The regular season is getting closer. With a number of big name pass catchers and running backs, new Bengals head coach Zac Taylor has a plethora of options for offensive success in 2019. Highlighted below are five keys for the unit.
Joe Mixon – feature back
Away from the Queen City, Joe Mixon is perennially underrated. He is an instinctive runner and a more than capable pass catcher. Mixon has the ability to fill the role Todd Gurley did for Taylor’s Rams last year. Recent interviews show that Mixon is not short on confidence. speaking to Jeremy Rauch of Fox 19, Mixon was recently quoted as saying: “Proof is in the pudding. I’m going to put it on for the city of Cincinnati, people back home, and the fans.”
John Ross – deep threat
Ross, known for recording the fastest 40 yard dash in NFL Combine history, has been subject to mockery since his rookie year. 21 total catches in two seasons makes some of it deserved. Still, the play that got fans most excited last preseason was his 57 yard connection with Andy Dalton in week 3 against the Buffalo Bills. Alas, we saw none of this in the regular season. However, Ross’ skillset is evident and his ability to stretch the field may well be the key to unlocking huge progress for the offense as a whole.
An effective offensive line via scheme
The injuries to Clint Boling and Jonah Williams mean that the Bengals have a weaker unit up front on paper than the poor performing squad of last year. Hopefully, the minds of Taylor and first year offensive coordinator Brian Callahan can find ways around this via an increase in pre snap motion and three wide receiver sets. This is a package that Pro Football Focus states that the Rams used on 80% of offensive snaps in 2018.
Increase in play action
The act of faking a run play only to set up a throw is known as play action passing. The concept has been highly successful in the NFL in recent years. However, Dalton will need to improve in this area. As explained below by our Dylan Streibig, Dalton only completed 63% of play action throws last year, ranking him 24th in NFL quarterbacks.
Risk taking play calls
Nicknamed “Blandy Dalton” in 2018 by James Rapien, then of Locked on Bengals, many local and national reporters see the “Red Rifle” as the personification of average. People forget that Dalton was a 2015 MVP candidate before he broke his thumb tackling Stephon Tuitt of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A key factor in Dalton’s performance in 2015 was the innovative play calling of Hue Jackson. Yes, the former Browns head coach was highly regarded not long ago. Jackson was forward thinking. His creativity was epitomized by his ever fluctuating formations. With a smorgasbord of offensive weapons and new young offensive minded coaching personnel, Dalton could turn some heads in 2019.