Cincinnati Bengals: Read Option a Possibility?

By James Rapien
Douglas Jones-US Presswire

Newly signed quarterback Josh Johnson appears to be Andy Dalton‘s backup for the 2013 season and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden seems excited about the signing.

“He’s smart and he’s got a big, live arm. He’s got a rifle and he can run fast,” Gruden told “I liked him in Tampa. My brother liked him. I think it’s a case where he just hasn’t had a lot of snaps. He’s had a few shots here and there but never a steady diet of work. I’m excited to have him because he can run a lot of plays that are being run in the NFL.”

Johnson, who has only started five games in his NFL career, brings a different dynamic to the Cincinnati Bengals. Gruden showed trickery in his play calling last season when he had wide receiver Mohamed Sanu throw a 73-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green.

Gruden may be able to use the highly-athletic Johnson in certain offensive sets including the read option.

“We ran it maybe one or two times last year,” Gruden said. “We’ll see how it goes and where everyone is, but you could definitely see Josh doing some of that. The zone read certainly gets the numbers in favor of the offense. It’s good to be able to show something a little different if he was your No. 2 and he had to go into the game. The big thing he has to do is get the basics of what we do first, and then it may be kind of fun to look at.”

It remains to be seen if the Bengals will have a read option package, but it is interesting to know Gruden is open to it. Could you imagine Johnson taking a snap with Andrew Hawkins lined up in the backfield? That amount of speed on the field could be nearly impossible to cover.

Creative play calling is exciting for the players, fans and coaches. It keeps people on the edge of their seat and offensive creativity would certainly be welcome at Paul Brown Stadium this fall.

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