With a lot of talk this offseason on contract extensions and if Andy Dalton is going to lead the Bengals to a playoff win, less has been made of what new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson is doing to revamp his starter and best utilize all of the weapons on offense. Fans have gotten glimpses of this during training camp, but Saturday, in front of around 8,000 fans at Paul Brown Stadium, the offense really shined. Rumors of the fast pace and comfortable Andy Dalton came to fruition as the offense seemingly scored at will.
Yes, A.I., I’m talking about practice. There is just timing and a tempo though, that is only learned by veterans stepping up and accepting that this is how things are going to be. Certainly one surprise has been 2nd year player, and first round pick Tyler Eifert. With 5th year man Jermaine Gresham seemingly out of training camp, Eifert has made the most of being the number one target. Eifert fits nicely into what Hue Jackson wants to do, and with a healthy Jermaine Gresham, the Bengals could have the best tight end combination in the league.
Eifert easily caught everything thrown his way, including a touchdown pass off of play action that went for 41 yards, and another deep ball that went for 53 yards and a touchdown. All in all, Eifert had 7 catches and two touchdowns. Dalton also looked much more comfortable throwing the deep ball, and it might be because he does not need to throw it as much. With other threats like 2nd year man Giovani Bernard and now rookie Jeremy Hill, the Bengals offense looks poised to do what it should be doing, which is scoring often.
Oh, and there is A.J. Green. Green just looks like a man among boys on the practice field. Green has not really had to try to catch anything, yet he just reels in catch after catch. Dalton aired out a beautiful deep ball to Green during Saturday’s practice for a touchdown, but it was called back because they said Green pushed off. Apparently this mock game was pretty serious to be called that tightly.
With all of this said, there are still key components that are not participating. These players include Andrew Whitworth, Marvin Jones, Andre Smith, and the previously mentioned Jermaine Gresham. With four preseason weeks for these guys to get healthy, don’t look for the semi-starters to get a lot of playing time when they play the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night at 8pm. In fact, more than one or two series might be too much.
This is an exciting time of year for football, and as shown by the crowds around training camp, fans are chomping at the bit for the Bengals to win back to back AFC North titles and that elusive playoff game. Only time will tell if that happens or not, but so far the Bengals offense looks about as good as it can at this point in the season.