May 26, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) looks to throw during OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Over the past couple of seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals have done just about everything they can to bolster their offense and play to their strengths. They’ve added talent to their receiving unit, have drafted a few tight ends, have created an elite offensive line, and have added running backs.
Part of the reasoning behind all these decisions was to help Andy Dalton mature and find success. Last year, the Bengals began their biggest transition on offense. Hue Jackson took over the offense when Jay Gruden took the Redskins head coaching job. Jackson started implementing a new offense to play to the strengths of Dalton. He designed a creative playbook that emphasized the run and asked Dalton to complete short, quick throws which asked receivers to create yards after the catch rather than get open down the field. The effort to put Dalton in a better position to succeed has been the focal point of the offense for some time now.
This offseason, Cincinnati seems to be focusing on yet another aspect of the offense, which should aid Andy Dalton yet again. When answering questions from fans recently, Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson suggested that the receivers will focus on “going up for the ball” this offseason.
"“In fact, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson indicated this offseason that going up for the ball is going to be a point of emphasis this season for all the receivers because except for Marvin Jones, it doesn’t seem to be happening with any regularity with anyone.”"
Working on such a skill is a good idea for several reasons. Receivers should be challenging defenders at the point of the catch regardless of the throw, and practicing doing so should help these players make more catches and potentially help decrease turnovers on bad throws.
Yet, we cannot ignore the fact that Andy Dalton can be rather inaccurate at times, which leads to turnovers and loss of downs. Working on this skill set would be huge for him, as his receivers would be better prepared to catch inaccurate throws and help bail out Dalton and the offense by making tough catches in unpropitious circumstances.
Whether Andy Dalton or not will improve going forward remains to be seen, but if the unprecedented silence on him this offseason is an indication of anything, it’s likely that he is what he is and fans and the organization have accepted as much and are focusing on finding ways to circumvent Dalton’s deficiencies.
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You can look at this focus in two ways. First would be viewing it through a wide receiver prism. The Bengals are working on skills that their receivers lack in an effort to make the unit better as a whole. The second prism would be when viewing the passing game as a whole.
The fact is the Bengals employ a quarterback who is inaccurate at times and needs help when seeking success. With this in mind, and continuing the trend of the past couple of years, the team is working on skills that aids their quarterback and hence, the passing game as a whole, or at least, mitigates the quarterback’s and offense’s shortcomings.
In the end, it’s likely a bit of both. The receivers will hopefully continue to improve and have a stellar year. Nonetheless, this focus is yet another strategy that’s goal is to help Andy Dalton find a greater level of success, and in the end, hopefully the team as well.