New Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden brings his version of the West Coast offense to town Monday. Let’s hope the passing game has some of the elements Green Bay used to knock off the Steelers in Sunday’s Super Bowl.
That’s not to say what the Packers run is anything near the West Coast, which seems to be all things to all people. Certainly Sunday’s running game was nowhere near what Gruden envisions. After a postseason the Packers flummoxed foes with a Wishbone of sorts, on Sunday they sat one fullback (Quinn Johnson) and barely played the other (John Kuhn) in calling just 11 runs and never tried to “pound it” as Gruden says he wants to do. Plus, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t do any bootlegs or sprintouts that are usually associated with the West Coast.
But the Pack did some things that have become principles of any version of the West Coast, be it the branch of Bill Walsh, Mike Holmgren, Jon Gruden or Brian Billick. Even when he was in shotgun, which was most of the time, Rodgers got rid of it fast to receivers running quick slants and angled crossing routes that emphasize yards after catch. And even though they didn’t run much, the game’s first TD, a bomb to Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson, came off a run fake, another Coast staple.
One criticism of the previous regime had been the slow amount of time it took for routes to develop downfield, such as comebacks, digs and outs, putting the quarterback under duress to make perfect throws. To be fair, they had that guy in Carson Palmer. But when the pieces around him started to be replaced in 2006, it never quite fit again.
Yet with tight end Jermaine Gresham and wide receiver Jerome Simpson emerging as YAC guys, maybe visions of Nelson and Greg Jennings can dance in the head.
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