Getting rid of Bratkowski and getting into some new blood was one of the many things Bengals fans, and I am guessing Marvin Lewis, really wanted to happen. We finally got a glimmer of hope last year when Jay Gruden was brought on board to run the Bengals offense. He knew he wanted AJ and Andy to be the centerpieces and he had a book of magic ready to put some spark back into the offense for Cincinnati. Given as though every story needs some form of conflict, the NFL got theirs with that little thing we remember as the lockout. Rookies weren’t allowed in contact with their coaches or even the playbooks they would be expected to memorize. Gruden’s exciting West Coast Offense had to be dwindled down to a few plays to get ready for the season and he would eventually begin working new things in throughout the season. That limited book helped lead us into the playoffs.
“I’ve always been criticized about having too many plays. But I’d rather have too many than not enough.”- Jay Gruden
Looks as though Jay isn’t going to waste much time in expanding the playbook he used in 2011. We’re not talking about adding a handful of new plays. He knows that the foundation for this offense was set during the 2011 season and most guys have the basics down. This offseason is for getting more creative and more complex to break away from that 20th ranked offense of 2011 and rise up the ranks to the level of the Saints and Packers. With the players we have in place and the possibility of Andy Dalton having improved on his deep accuracy and footwork, we could see a much more deadly offense to help ease the burden on our defense.
Jay Gruden, to me, will be the most important person on this entire team for the 2012 season. If he can expand this offense into what fans expect, we could see this team become one of the next elite franchises over the next decade. Not only is it imporant for the team, but it will be important to Gruden personally with Marvin Lewis in the last year of his contract. How well this offense executes and progresses will determine if Jay may be looking at taking over this team if Marvin decides to walk away. This season will be one of the most exciting we have seen in way too many years, but the outcome will have a huge determination in who is coaching this team next year.