Flashback: Gruden outwits Haslett

Flashback: Gruden outwits Haslett
January 10, 2014, 7:45 am
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Tarik El-Bashir talks about the first day of the Gruden era

If reports are accurate and Jim Haslett does remain as the Redskins’ defensive coordinator, it is likely that Jay Gruden will have a talk with him about becoming too predictable.

Let’s go back to the one and only matchup between Gruden as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator and Haslett as the Redskins’ defensive coordinator. That was in Week 3 of the 2012 season at FedEx Field.

Cincinnati took the opening kickoff and returned it to the 27-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu lined up behind center in a Wildcat formation. The rookie launched a 73-yard touchdown pass to a wide opn A. J. Green.

The play worked because Gruden knew what defense the Redskins would be in. A few days after the game he was on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

“We had a pretty good indication that they were gonna be in Cover-0 when we went wildcat with whoever we had back there other than a quarterback, whether it’s a running back or wide receiver,” Gruden said (h/t DC Sports Bog). “It took a little bit of time, but the free safety came out of the middle of the field, and came in the box, and we knew we had A.J. one-on-one against a safety.”

This wasn’t a play that the Bengals had sitting in their playbook. It was designed to go against Haslett and the Redskins.

“Actually, it was just for this game,” Gruden said. “Because Coach Haslett, I was just watching their wildcat reel. And every wildcat snap they had, they played Cover-0. And I’ve been waiting for it.”

A Cover-0 is not necessarily a bad way to defend against the Wildcat. It is bad if you run the same defense against the same formation every time.

One would think that one of the first conversations that Haslett and Gruden will hae is about self-scouting and how a sharp offensive coordinator will make you pay for predictability. 

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