Jay Gruden on the Bengals’ offense

Jay Gruden doesn’t have NFL announcing aspirations like his older brother Jon, but the new Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator has no problem speaking his mind.

During an interview last week with FOXSports.com, Gruden weighed in with some thoughts on Cincinnati’s offensive talent:

On rookie quarterback Andy Dalton: “We gave him a mini-playbook before he was drafted to see how mentally sharp he was. Obviously, that’s not an issue with him. We feel very confident, if need be, that he can come in, pick up the system and start. From a talent standpoint, speed of the game and nuances of the NFL, time will tell. But from a mental standpoint and mental toughness standpoint, we think he’s ready to go.”

On rookie wide receiver A.J. Green: “He’s just so gifted talent-wise. You couldn’t pass up on a guy like that (with the No. 4 overall pick) sitting there looking you in the face. He’s so athletic and smooth. He’s strong. Really, there’s no downside. The only negative is how quickly he’s going to learn a new system. Georgia did a lot of good things offensively, but, obviously, we’re going to do a little more. How he learns is going to be his only issue, if there is an issue. But he’s never had trouble in the past at Georgia. We talked to their coaches and A.J. We’ll make sure we keep it to where he can pick it up and not struggle mentally because physically he’s a hell of a player. Every time he walks on the field for pregame warm-ups, people go, ‘Wow!’ “

On tight end Jermaine Gresham: “There are some inconsistency issues he had blocking, route-running and catching the ball. But he’s shown the ability to be a dominant tight end in this league. He’s just got to show the ability to put it all together consistently.”

On wide receiver Jerome Simpson: “He played the last two games (18 catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns in Weeks 16 and 17 last season). He shows athletically that he’s an NFL receiver. Again, it’s consistency. He had a couple fumbles, and he sometimes has trouble lining up. Mentally, he’s got to get going and eliminate the dropsies. But from a talent standpoint, he’s exciting.”

On wide receiver Jordan Shipley: “He’s got to take over that slot spot and be great at it. He’s got to be Wes Welker-like: find holes, get open and take punishment. He’s had a concussion issue and some injuries that, hopefully, he can fight through and understand those are flukes. They don’t happen all the time. You can still go across the middle and make the tough catch.”

On unsigned free-agent running back Cedric Benson: “I am a huge fan. He’s a durable, tough guy. He can run between the tackles and has the speed to go outside. He’s everything you want in a back. From when I talked to him before the lockout, he wants to come back. But, obviously, free agency is free agency. Someone may offer him a bucket load of money, and he may not come back. Hopefully, he does, because I expect him to be the leader of this offense.”

On the possible return of wide receiver Chad Ochocinco: “That’s up to (management). I haven’t had a chance to talk with Chad. I haven’t been reading his Tweets to find out what he’s doing lately. He’s, obviously, a very talented guy still, but it’s whether coach (Marvin) Lewis and (Bengals owner Mike) Brown want him back. I’d welcome him back. I love to have talented players on our team, but I don’t know him like other people in the building. That’s totally their call. I could go either way. It’s the same with Carson (Palmer). If Carson comes back and they want him back, we’ll coach him up.”

On the overall offense: “When you add A.J. and Andy and (rookie wide receiver Ryan) Whalen to the mix, we have a good young team that just needs direction. They had a good staff last year. A lot of them are returning. Obviously, (Bengals management) wasn’t satisfied with what went on offensively. When you’re 4-12, you shouldn’t be satisfied with the offense, defense or special teams.”