Like Andy Dalton, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is entering his third year as the leader of the Bengals offense. Over the past two seasons, the offense has done enough to make it into the playoffs, backing their way in in 2011 and earning a spot in 2012, however, each year the offense struggled heading down the stretch.
Gruden knows this year needs to be different and the Bengals need to take the next step in order to get beyond the first round of the playoffs.
According to The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, Gruden is pleased with what he has seen from his young offense so far during OTAs and he has learned quite a bit from his first two years as an offensive coordinator.
Added Gruden: "Every year you see different things and you see your team in a different way but the one thing is I want to be consistent with my approach with the players and let them understand what it takes to be great. That's coming out every day and preparing, listening and adjusting on the fly. I've learned a lot the first two years of do's and don'ts, no question about it."
Gruden was worried that he was adding too much of te playbook for the offense during OTAs, especially for the rookies, but players have done a good job grasping the offense and only a few mental mistakes have been made. He's especially happy with the amount of work that Dalton has gotten during OTAs.
"We're getting accomplished what we wanted. We've seen a lot from a defensive standpoint," Gruden said. "Andy has gotten a lot of reps. He's working through some things and it is only his third year. We're going back to basics but throwing a lot at him. We're happy with the progress the offense has made.
"The thing about our offense is they came back and are willing to work hard, they are all unselfish and have a great understanding of what it is going to take for us to get to the next level."
According to Reedy, as players are becoming more comfortable with the offense, he has been able to open up the playbook a little more and get aggressive. The Bengals have run some no huddle offense. Also, with minor injuries, especially on the offensive line and at running back, young players like Tanner Hawkinson, Reid Fragel and T.J. Johnson as well as Dan Herron, have gotten quite a few reps.
The one thing that Gruden hasn't been quite as pleased with was the lack of a backup quarterback stepping up. Josh Johnson holds a slight edge due to his familiarity with the West Coast offense and his athleticism, but no clear choice has been made.
Gruden knows this is the very reason OTAs are important, though.
"It's a process, which is why these OTAs are very important for us. Get them the reps because training camp is going to be huge and then the four preseason games," Gruden said. "Get them as many reps as we can now, evaluate them and figure out who our two, three and four are and then get them the work in the preseason to make a decision."