The Bengals offense hasn’t lived up to expectations thus far in the preseason, and that’s never a good sign, as teams who struggle on offense in the preseason tend to struggle as much, if not more during the regular season. Of course Pro Bowl TE Jermaine Gresham is out, but the team did fine while he was injured during the regular season last year.
The team has also been missing its top-2 RBs, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott, and there’s a growing feeling Scott won’t be ready for the opener against Baltimore. This preseason, Bengals backs have rushed 67 times for 129 yards, a rate of 1.9 yards per carry.
Can Green-Ellis be expected to make that big of a difference when he comes back? A lot of questions are starting to surround the offense with 16 days remaining before the start of the regular season, and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden knows that time to find answers is running out:
We have to figure out what we’re good at. I know we’re trying a couple of different things up there. Until we master one we can’t use them all. So we probably have to settle down a little bit and focus on a couple of aspects of it and go from there.
It’s a matter of how many plays you get to practice. You practice on the pulling plays, those gap plays, inside zone, outside zone, all the draws and all that good stuff, and the next thing you know practice is over and you didn’t get a look at all of them. We just have to be able to hone in on the looks of the plays we want to run and try not to run them into unblockable fronts and go from there.
With time winding down, the Bengals need to get healthy and develop continuity with the players they have right now. Clint Boling is still getting comfortable with a starting role after projected starter Travelle Wharton was lost for the year with a knee injury. Green-Ellis needs to come back and develop some continuity with this offensive line. And this o-line has to start getting a better push in the run game, as they’re not giving the backs enough running-room consistently.
The team also needs to get more production from its WRs not named A.J. Green. The other projected top-3 WRs of Armon Binns, Brandon Tate, Andrew Hawkins have a combined 10 receptions for 94 yards. They’ve got to step up or Green is going to be facing a lot of double-coverage this year.