GEORGETOWN, Ky. — Jay Gruden has his older brother's voice, and their eyes have the same steely glint. Jay is bigger, has darker hair and more of a twisted smile than a sinister Chucky grimace.

"Jon's more edgy, grouchier too. Meaner," said the younger Gruden, the Bengals' new offensive coordinator. "I'm a nice guy. I'm more laid-back. His tolerance level isn't as high as mine, and mine's pretty low."


Case in point: During an offensive meeting last week, one Bengal had the nerve to chomp on a mouthful of ice as Gruden was making a point. The coach asked him to kindly knock it off.

"Jon probably would have kicked him out," said Jay, 44, four years younger than the former Raiders and Buccaneers coach. "See? I'm nicer."

Jon doesn't dispute that but is quick to point out his little brother isn't low-key.

"He's fiery as hell when the lights go on and the time is right," Jon said. "He's very confident and prepared. But he's probably got more control of his emotions than I do. I've always been a little irritable. I remember a girl was chewing gum and popping bubbles during the SAT test, and I almost had a nervous breakdown."

There's a good chance Jay's patience will be tested by the sights and sounds of the Bengals this season. He might have the toughest assignment of the huge crop of new coordinators (19 teams have made at least one switch).

Quarterback Carson Palmer isn't there. Neither are receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. And there was no offseason program to get rookie quarterback Andy Dalton up to speed, turning training camp into a mad scramble to install an offense.

That hasn't dampened Gruden's enthusiasm for the challenge ahead.

"It's not like we don't have anything here," he said. "These guys are legitimate weapons. Yes, it will be a challenge with whoever's on offense, and I don't think we can use any excuses. … There's no excuse for us not to be great because we have great people here."

Gruden's experience is vast, even though his only previous NFL gig was as an offensive assistant to Jon with the Bucs from 2002 to '08. Jay threw for more than 7,000 yards as Louisville's quarterback from 1985 to '88 and was a highly decorated player, then player/coach, in the Arena Football League. For the last two years, he was a head coach in the fledgling United Football League.

"I never tried to kick any doors open by interviewing," said Gruden, hired to replace the fired Bob Bratkowski in Cincinnati. "I never had to do a resume. I've always been content where I'm at."

He started to get nervous, though, as he saw how much the UFL was spending on players, travel and accommodations — far too much for a league that wasn't attracting fans, TV deals or sponsors.

"I thought, 'Now, who is footing this bill?'" Gruden said. "I loved the UFL. It was a great experience. But I had to make a decision: Do I stay with this or look for a new job?"

Now he's following the path of his brother, who was the Eagles' offensive coordinator before the Raiders gave him his first head coaching job in 1998.

Jon, who went on to coach the Buccaneers over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII, is enjoying life these days as a color analyst for ESPN's "Monday Night Football."


"I always knew he'd be a good announcer," Jay said. "He used to announce all the games when we were kids: Nerf basketball games, football in the back yard, baseball. He knew everybody's name. I honestly think he could do a whole game by himself and nobody would miss anything. He could do the play-by-play, be the color guy, change his voices if he wanted to. He could do it all."The Bengals don't have a Monday game, so Jon won't be in the potentially uncomfortable position of critiquing his brother's offense.

To an extent, the Bengals wound up getting two Grudens for the price of one. Jay has Jon on speed dial, and the two talk or text at least a few times a week. Jay doesn't hesitate to ask for advice.

"If I had a question about offense, or what to do with a blitz, red zone, whatever, he'd be the first guy I'd call," he said. "And probably the only guy."