Jay Gruden’s Pass Happiness
May 29, 2014; Ashburn, VA, USA; Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden speaks with the media after organized team activities at Redskins Park. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
But let’s look at this another way. Under Coach Gruden in 2013, the Bengals achieved 205 of 330 first downs from pass plays, roughly two-thirds of their season total. Further, while Bengals converted on third down 92 times (40.9%) and fourth down 12 times (57.1%), this combined number fails to account for even half of the total first downs, suggesting that the Bengals moved the chains the majority of the time on the first or second play of the series. As the Bengals averaged 7.4 yards per pass attempt and completed 15 pass plays of 40+ yards, 2nd most in the NFL, one could posit that Coach Gruden’s rushing scheme didn’t need to be effective, just distractive.
Okay, last one… Acknowledging that Coach Gruden committed to the run game from an aggregate perspective, it is important to note that the most notable losses from the Bengals’ 10-6 season came when the run was abandoned and Dalton was asked to throw the ball a disproportionate amount of times. Cleveland in Week 4 (42 pass / 20 rush), Miami in Week 9 (53 pass / 35 rush), and San Diego in the Wild Card (51 pass / 25 rush) were all stunning losses to inferior teams while victories over perennial playoff contenders like Green Bay in Week 3 (28 pass / 24 rush), New England in Week 5 (27 pass / 39 rush), and Baltimore in Week 17 (36 pass / 30 rush) all came from a more balanced, patient approach.
To be clear, I am not seeking quarrel with Mr. Tandler. After all, his point is a sanguine and enthusiastic one – that Alfred Morris should get just as many touches this season with Coach Gruden at the helm as he did last season under Head Coach Mike Shanahan. And while I certainly agree with that assessment, my point is simply highlighting that Coach Gruden’s reputation is actually earned and not a myth. I could be persuaded to say that he is not ‘pass happy’ per se, but clearly he is ‘pass prone.’
For that reason, it is difficult to find fans in Cincinnati who are upset that Jay will not be calling plays from the sidelines this season.