Bengals running back coach Jim Anderson has been on the payroll since1984. He's worked with five head coaches, worked with Ickey Woods, Harold Green, James Brooks, Corey Dillon, Rudi Johnson and Cedric Benson and coached in Super Bowl XXIII. Needless to say, he's going to be a big part of ushering the Bengals offense from the Bob Bratkowski era to the Jay Gruden era.
If he sounds like a throwback, he is. At 62, Anderson is the dean of NFL position coaches for length of service with his team and the last Bengals coach who interviewed with Paul Brown. And after 27 years of 13 different 100-yard rushers, 10 Pro Bowl seasons, nine different changes in the structure of the playcalling, six different 1,000-yard rushers, and four head coaches, Anderson is staring at Gruden's what-goes-around-comes-around playbook.
Anderson believes that under Gruden's system, running backs ,like Benson and Brian Leonard, would be able to be utilized on the field at the same time. He also mentioned some of the other staples of the west coast offense that Gruden is going to attempt to implement in Cincinnati.
Gruden trying to get the ball quickly out of the passer's hands in a tight end-friendly offense favoring play-action passes out of formations teeming with tons of personnel groups. He thinks the scheme fits the pass-catching abilities of third-year scatback Bernard Scott because "it's something he's been in and it will be more natural for him." Although Anderson says "a running game is a running game," it is going to be a key piece of the puzzle because both Gruden and head coach Marvin Lewis are saying they want the running game to mirror the passing game.
Anderson also says that the west coast offense has changed and evolved in the same way that defenses have changed and evolved over the past 20 years. The west coast offense that the Bengals ran during their last Super Bowl year (1988) will be completely different than the west coast offense they'll run in 2011. So different that Geoff Hobson says it isn't the difference between "Spanish 101 and Spanish 405. It's Spanish 405 and French 405."
"The system has evolved because the defenses have evolved," Anderson says. "The blitz has become so frequent that the major change has been the pass protections."
Hobson also mentions that the Bengals coaching staff is no stranger to the west coast offense and that many have operated under the system before.
Jay Gruden's staff is no stranger to West Coast concepts. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander broke into the NFL of 1992 under Wyche disciple Bruce Coslet with the Jets and came with him to the Bengals in 1994. Quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese is fluent enough in the West Coast from his days in Green Bay and Philadelphia that he can teach Bratkowski's scheme using West Coast terminology. Tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes played in it at Kansas City in the late '80s and '90.
Even Monday's hire of Eagles assistant offensive coordinator James Urban to coach the receivers is steeped in the West Coast. Jon Gruden learned at the foot of Eagles head coach Andy Reid and Jay Gruden learned from Jon Gruden and...
It should be exciting to see a new system in Cincinnati. Even though the old system, under Bob Bratkowski, had winning years, it seems to have gotten stale and predictable in the recent past. What is encouraging is that even though the west coast offense is an older system that many teams have moved away from, Gruden, Alexander and the rest of the Bengals offensive coaching staff seem to be adjusting it to combat modern defenses so it can thrive in Cincinnati once again.