Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden announced yesterday that he was not entertaining any offers to become a head coach and would be returning to the Cincinnati sideline next season. This announcement comes on the heels of a request from the St. Louis Rams to interview Gruden for their vacant head coaching position.
In Gruden's first season calling the plays, the Bengals offense finished 20th in the NFL overall. Gruden had much to overcome due to the NFL lockout cancelling any off season workouts and having to work with a largely new cast including a rookie quarterback in Andy Dalton and a rookie wideout in AJ Green.
Overall, the offense averaged fewer yards than in 2010 (319-331) but the rushing attack was more potent, averaging 14 more yards per game on the ground. The major improvement came in ball security where the Bengals only gave the ball away 1.5 times per game compared to 2.1 in 2010.
Gruden admits there's much more to do, telling the Enquirer's Joe Reedy:
“I feel like we’re just scratching the surface on offense, but we have a lot of good, young players and have the potential to do even better next season.”
One major area they need to improve is their execution in the red zone where they finished 26th in the NFL, scoring touchdowns only 44 per cent of the time. This is compared to 49 per cent in 2010. Just as a frame of reference, only San Francisco finished lower than Cincinnati in this category among teams who qualified for the playoffs. They also led the NFL in turnover margin while the Bengals, despite their improvement on offense, finished 18th due to a drop in takeaways this season.
An Orlando media outlet is also reporting that Gruden will receive a contract extension thought to be worth $3.6 million. This has yet to be confirmed by Gruden or the Bengals.
On the defensive side of the ball, coordinator Mike Zimmer has interviewed for the vacant head coaching position with the Miami Dolphins. He is in the running with several other candidates including former Tennessee Titans head coach, Jeff Fisher.
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