Does Bengals’ three-headed monster go away with Lazor?

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CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up prior to the start of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 10: Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals warms up prior to the start of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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The Bengals are ready to get things in gear with new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Now, it’s time to address the backfield issues.

With Week 2 officially done for the Bengals, there’ a feeling of both relief and apprehension. Second-year offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was released on Friday. Most Bengals fans probably saw Marvin Lewis’ name along with “fired” and spit out whatever they were drinking. But, that wasn’t the case. Lewis is here until further notice.

As Bill Lazor takes on the responsibility of calling the offensive plays, there’s a situation that needs to be settled. Who is going to be the featured running back? Zampese politely dodged the issue by implementing a three-headed back system. But, honestly, that isn’t going to work in the NFL. Sure, anything is possible. But, most backs need to get a feel for the game and get in rhythm with the O-line. Unfortunately, rotating the running backs isn’t going to allow that to develop.

In the two games that the running back rotation was used, the numbers are lukewarm to stagnant. Yet, Giovani Bernard is leading the pack with 50 yards on 12 carries. Joe Mixon is second in line, with 45 yards on 17 attempts. Jeremy Hill is just shy of Joe’s production, with 43 yards on 12 carries. A grand total of 148 yards from those talented runners is unacceptable.

This Could Mean Featured Back 

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In his time as offensive coordinator in Miami, Lazor wasn’t a fan of the backfield rotation. It’s extremely difficult to get the steady flow a running back needs to get going.

"“When they all run for 100 yards in a game, I view that as very positive. I haven’t done three in the past, splitting it equally, but that’s where we’ve been so far.”"

Actually, it’s possible to get the job done with a tandem in the backfield. But, it’s rare to nonexistent. The Bengals had the luxury of James Brooks and Ickey Woods when the offense was blowing defenses away. But, this version of the Bengals’ offense hasn’t developed a strong chemistry between the front five. When that happens, it’s all a matter of replacing one talented running back with another. Until then, it’s about skillful running and great vision.

With Lazor calling the shots for the Phins, Lamar Miller amassed 1.099 yards on 216 carries. However, there was no one remotely close to being a rotation RB. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill was a distant second with 311 yards rushing.

Apples And Oranges?

In the system that Zampese proposed, the Bengals would have three backs hovering around 100 carries and 350 yards. But, that’s just going by hard numbers and eliminating ever going with the back who heats up.

Essentially, the Bengals would have 1,104 yards collectively. But, there would be no standout running back. Additionally, the backfield would be averaging 3.4 yards per carry. Again, these are just numbers tossed out based on the analytical thinking of Zampese.

Yet, based on what Zampese stressed and the 1,804 yards the main backs supplied the Bengals in 2014, that would be a step backward.

Clear Cut Plan

It’s plain to see, someone has to end up being the odd player out. After drafting Mixon, it’s fairly obvious he wouldn’t be standing on the sidelines cheering. He was snatched to solidify the running game.

To the horror of Hill fans, the ax could probably fall on him if his production slacks. So far, the majority of carries have gone to Mixon. Fans have seen more of him than Gio and Hill. But, with the Bengals trying to get things in order, it doesn’t seem like he’s been on the field that much.

Next: Who Dey Notes

Don’t expect the offense to suddenly become a reincarnation of the Bill Walsh led Niners dynasty. But, there should be some interesting things in store. At least the running game should get some much-needed definition.

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