Jay Gruden’s Pass Happiness

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Dec 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden prior to the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

In an article earlier this month discussing the potential for Alfred Morris’ carries per game, Washington Redskin’s blogger Rich Tandler glibly offered that Cincinnati’s offense last season under then Offensive Coordinator Jay Gruden was “far from pass heavy.”  Tandler notes the Bengals actually passed the ball as many times as the ‘Skins last season, 1,764 attempts to be exact, which tied both teams for 19th overall in the NFL.  Because of this and the fact that the Bengals 1,366 rushing attempts was 11th in the NFL, Tandler bocks at the impression in the League that Coach Gruden is “pass happy.”

While it’s absolutely fair to assess and assert that Coach Gruden will be a perfect fit in Washington, those numbers over simplify Cincinnati’s offense in order to put an cheerful slant on the Redskins’ upcoming season.  Optimism aside, let’s not change what happened in Cincinnati just to fit a positive storyline.

First of all, Cincinnati may have been tied for 19th in the League in pass attempts, but they were also the 8th best passing team as well, a testament to Coach Gruden’s passing effectiveness, the Bengals receiving corps and, yes, Andy Dalton.  As far as rushing, Cincinnati notched 481 rushing attempts in 2013, which is 96 more attempts than their opponents’ and admittedly a statistic supportive of Coach Gruden’s commitment to the ground game.  However, attempts did not correlate to effectiveness.  Despite being 11th in rushing attempts, the Bengals rushing offense was ranked 18th overall and tied for 27th in yards per carry (3.6).  Further, the Bengals only ripped off five rushing plays of 20 yards or more all season long; only the New York Giants had less.  These numbers are even more disappointing when one considers that Giovanni Bernard was the highest drafted running back that offseason and that the Bengals had the best offensive line in the NFL last year according to PFF.