If Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is anything, he's industrious. Taking a rookie quarterback and a rookie wide receiver, while implementing an entirely new offensive philosophy without the benefit of an offseason, is nothing short of a major accomplishment. It's not entirely surprising that Gruden believes that a Tim Tebow led spread offense in the NFL could work. At the rate he's developing two star rookies while easily transporting veterans from a ten-year old philosophy into a new ideology, Gruden can implement any core offense and make it effective. There's the whole walking on water thing that we'll address at another time.
Through eight games this year, Gruden's offense is currently ranked 22nd overall, averaging 316.2 yards/game, with the league's 14th scoring offense, averaging 24.4 points/game (note: defense has helped with that average this season). After struggling to convert third downs during Cincinnati's two losses earlier this year, the offense is 18th in the league, converting 37%. They've done this facing two of the league's top six defenses with Houston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh (the top three defenses in the NFL as of week nine) still on tap.
Yet save for the times that Cincinnati's offense puts together game-tying and winning drives when they have to, Cincinnati's ability to prevent giveaways (seven interceptions, one fumble lost), is keeping the defense off the field, rested and ready to pin their ears back for inhumane destruction.
After Cincinnati's 24-17 win over the Titans, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was asked about his relationship with Gruden:
We have a great relationship. It is good to bounce ideas off of each other. He has definitely made this whole transition to the NFL easier for me.
Gruden was one of Dalton's biggest proponents during the 2011 NFL Draft, reportedly strong enough to sway Bengals Mike Brown from selecting Ryan Mallett. Additionally the players reaction to Jay Gruden is a far different tune from the Bob Bratkowski offense, where Terrell Owens complained that insight from players was disregarded and the overall philosophy was challenged by Cedric Benson.
And as Gruden, who is only a first-year offensive coordinator in the NFL, and Dalton grow together, this offense will continue opening up. Who knows what we could be witnessing a year from now.