Talent Injection Boosts Cincinnati Bengals’ Offense
Aug 24, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) runs with the ball against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at AT
While Dalton certainly did look improved, much of that can be credited to the improvements that the team made to the offense, along with improved health at skill positions.
While Dalton has been improving in finding throwing lanes, having improved options across the board has made those windows much bigger. Bringing in Eiffert has been a perfect for Jermaine Gresham. Eiffert excels at things (catching the ball in traffic and down the seam) that have historically caused problems for Gresham, while Gresham can focus on working as an in-line tight end and making power-forward-style catches, posting up against defenders then driving down the lane like LeBron James.
The return of Mohammed Sanu, whose outstanding play gave a giant spark to the Bengals’ offense last season before he landed on IR, has benefited the offense in a few ways. First of all, he gives a Houshmanzadeh-esque presence for Dalton to find intermediate routes at the Z receiver, savvy out of the slot, and a knack for finding a hole in the defense. Even when Andrew Hawkins returns, Sanu will be plenty useful lining up in the backfield, slot and outside.
Furthermore, Marvin Jones not only looks exponentially better and more comfortable at the NFL level, but Sanu’s presence, much like Eiffert and Gresham, allows Jones to be used in the roles in which he excels: as a downfield threat on the outside, down the seam, or deep-ins. His route running may still be unrefined, but that’s less glaring when he sticks to the parts of the route tree that emphasize his skills.
Lastly, Giovani Bernard is the final piece that the offense so desperately needed: a versatile breakaway threat, with outstanding explosiveness and great hands that allow him, like Hawkins and Sanu, to line up in the slot in addition to the backfield. The unexpected benefit, however, is the fact the Bernard has a nose for the end zone. After repeatedly punching it in from a yard out this preseason, Bernard has made his case for being the lead back in Cincinnati’s rotation.
And while all of this ability to run multiple sets out of base personnel is fantastic, let’s not forget: A.J. Green is still A.J. Green. Enough said.