Even the most unaware fan is aware that the Bengals just went through OTAs from hearing two discussions. The first is how Andy Dalton is improving when throwing the deep ball, and the second is how Jay Gruden is expanding his voluminous playbook.
Hearing the stories about Orson Charles moving to an H-back role and Giovani Bernard lining up at wide receiver, I began looking into what that might mean for a possible facelift for Gruden’s offense. We’re going to more deeply into this in the future, but let’s take a look at why this might happen.
While I have not always been on board with the encyclopedia-sized playbook, the indications from this offseason point towards a different type of expansion. Although Jay Gruden arrived in town with the same playbook that he used with Jon in Tampa Bay, he has shown an increasing willingness to inject that early-generation West Coast offense with some zest and creativity.
First of all, look no further than Jon. While rumors were connecting him to the University of Tennessee coaching job, he was playing coy about his interest in the collegiate spread offense. His “secret” interest was less well-guarded than a “leaked” iPhone prior to a new launch, and was even photographed studying Tennessee on an airplane.
Plus, Jon began studying the spread offense with Chip Kelly as soon as Tampa Bay fired him following the 2008 season. Jon’s offensive system until then, however, was developed under Bill Walsh disciples Mike Holmgren and Paul Hackett, the latter of which was a conservative, power-running advocate. Hackett was with Walsh in the early years in San Francisco, and later calling the conservative shots for the Martyball-era Chiefs.
With Jon’s traditionally built West Coast offense being the biggest influence on Jay’s system, it makes sense to look at Jon’s coaching tree to find hints of what offensive elements we might see injected into the Bengals this season.