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Jon Gruden long shot to win NFL Coach of the Year award

Jon Gruden is one of 34 coaches to win a Super Bowl. But he has never won the NFL Coach of the Year award.

The odds are against him winning it this season. Gruden is one of the longest shots on the board, at 50-1 at William Hill, to claim the honor.

But William Hill sportsbook director Nick Bogdanovich says there’s a chance.

“I think the Raiders could flip it this year,” he said. “If they go 11-6 and win a playoff game, I’d say he’s got a good chance. And I don’t think that’s far-fetched. If they went 10-7 and won a playoff game, he’s probably in the mix. I like the Raiders’ personnel.”

The Raiders have made gradual improvement in Gruden’s second stint as their coach — climbing from 4-12 to 7-9 to 8-8 last season, when they went 2-6 at home and lost five of their final seven games.

“He’s definitely got a chance if the Raiders improve at home and down the stretch,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “They just happen to play in a tough division.”

First-year trend

Three of the last four award winners were first-year coaches: Sean McVay of the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, Matt Nagy of the Chicago Bears in 2018 and Kevin Stefanski of the Cleveland Browns last season.

“You can never discount any first-year coach in a garbage situation,” Bogdanovich said. “Just because if they do something halfway reasonable, they’re going to get votes. Then it’ll just depend on how heroic of a job someone else did. So I think any of those guys going into a dumpster fire are live. They’ll be in the hunt if they can do anything.”

Stefanski and Brian Flores of the Miami Dolphins are the 12-1 co-favorites to win the award, followed by Sean McDermott of the Buffalo Bills, Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints and first-year Los Angeles Chargers coach Brandon Staley at 15-1.

“Usually first-year coaches are taking over really bad rosters,” Bogdanovich said. “Obviously Anthony Lynn had his chance with the Chargers and didn’t get it done. Staley has a great team to start with. He hit the lottery, as far as a situation to walk into. He’s definitely going to be live with this team.”

Vegas Vic

The Chargers went 7-9 last season to place third in the AFC West. The Broncos went 5-11 to finish last, and Esposito said Denver coach Vic Fangio is worth a shot at 30-1 to claim Coach of the Year honors.

“You’re looking for teams that are going to make kind of a big leap next year to the next level,” he said. “If I’m looking for a real value play and a little bit of a longer shot, I’m going with him. They have a real good group of wide receivers with Jerry Jeudy and if they can get Courtland Sutton back and K.J. Hamler and tight end Noah Fant.

“There’s a lot of talent there, with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb back on defense, and they drafted Patrick Surtain. There’s one big question mark, and that’s at quarterback. If they can get any steady play from Drew Lock or Teddy Bridgewater or (possibly Aaron Rodgers) and they can make the playoffs, it’s Vic Fangio.”

Urban legend

Urban Meyer takes over a Jacksonville Jaguars team that went 1-15 last season and drafted quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick. Bogdanovich expects Meyer, a 22-1 long shot, to lead the way in wagers and liability on the award.

“I think Meyer is live at 22-1. The Jaguars are closer than people think,” he said. “If Lawrence plays well, they’re going to do well. Meyer is such an enormous name, and it’s a huge story for him and Lawrence to be at the same place at the same time.

“He took over a horrible situation. All he has to do is do halfway decent and he’s got a chance to succeed. It’s tailor-made for him to get a lot of votes.”

Here comes Judge

Esposito said Joe Judge of the New York Giants is worth a shot at 22-1 and Ron Rivera of the Washington Football Team at 18-1. Washington won the NFC East with a 7-9 record last season, and the Giants went 6-10.

“No team has dominated that division and repeated,” Esposito said. “The Giants have probably their best offensive skill position players ever around (quarterback) Daniel Jones. They’ll be a better team, and Washington, too, having (QB) Ryan Fitzpatrick there and one of the best defenses in the entire league.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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