While the Bengals sport one of the leagues’ top offenses, much of the praise has gone to offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, who in just his second year with the title has become one of the top coordinators in the NFL. But its the little stuff he and his players are doing that has made the Bengals offense one of the best in the NFL and himself one of top candidates to become a head coach next offseason.
How many times over the years did we see Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson not on the same page, leading to passes thrown at a field of grass, or a defender running it the other way for six? Former OC Bob Bratkowski routinely allowed his receivers freelance and be undisciplined in their route running. While this worked when Chad Johnson was playing like an All-Pro and T.J. Housmanzadeh was a playing at a Pro-Bowl level, not to mention Chris Henry being arguably the best third-receiver in the NFL. But once that time passed, it led to the downfall of the offense and eventually Bratkowski as well.
Last season, Andre Caldwell Jerome Simpson continued that trend after playing for Bob for two years, then not getting coached by Gruden until the lockout was over. While A.J. Green was having a historic rookie year, his inability to run the proper routes consistently also hurt the offense. After Gruden was given a full offseason to work with his receivers, the Bengals have improved their passing offense from 20th in the league last year to 8th this season. He’s done this with arguably a less-talented group than what he had last year. Caldwell was replaced with Brandon Tate, while Simpson was replaced with Armon Binns.
Green and Andrew Hawkins were the only two receivers to return from last year that played significant snaps, but yet this unit is clearly better, and the biggest reason is the discipline and chemistry these receivers have developed. Rarely have we seen Andy Dalton yelling at his receivers for running the wrong route as we saw all too often with Chad, Carson, T.J., and sideshow Bob running the offense. Discipline is why the Bengals are 3-1 right now, and may be a threat to not only make the playoffs for the second-consecutive year, but do some damage once they get their.