The Bengals have to find a way to get more out of John Ross

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

John Ross could become a difference-maker on offense for the Cincinnati Bengals, but the coaching staff needs to start utilizing him better.

John Ross was originally drafted as a top ten pick by the Cincinnati Bengals with the goal that he would be the difference-maker on offense. The dream of pairing A.J. Green with the fastest wide receiver in the league was enticing. Visions of the speedster blowing past defenders and stretching the defense vertically were what led the Cincinnati front office to pull the trigger on his selection.

Unfortunately, none of that has happened. Ross has never played a full season due to injuries that have kept him sidelined repeatedly. He has never turned into a number one or even a number two receiver, struggled to create separation, and developed a knack for dropping passes. Unless something drastic happens this year, this is possibly his last season in Cincinnati.

The Bengals have to change the way he’s utilized in order to tap into some of the potential that caused him to go so high in the draft. Ross should not be in the game for the majority of snaps like he was in week one. Cincinnati needs to give Tee Higgins a chance to show what he can do in the NFL, and Higgins has a skill set better suited to Joe Burrow. Tailoring the game plan to the rookie signal-caller is the key for Ross to succeed.

Getting John Ross involved in the short passing game

John Ross excelled in college by running right by defensive backs and catching the long ball for big plays. That is what he was brought into the NFL to do, but as discussed, he has come nowhere close to living up to the hype. Instead, the Bengals need to maximize his speed by giving him short throws and allowing him to run after the catch.

Joe Burrow’s passing charts show that the vast majority of his throws are going 10 yards or less downfield. This is a fine way to let him get acclimated to the speed of the NFL and still produces some good drives.

Rather than having Ross be the outlier to this plan, Zac Taylor needs to incorporate him in it. Let him run short crossing routes so that Burrow can hit him in stride. The majority of the time, this may only result in 5 or 10-yard gains but putting the ball in the hands of a speedster will result in more opportunities to break away from the defense.

There are still some issues with Ross that prevent him from being a top wide receiver, but if the coaching staff would make it a priority to get him the ball close to the line of scrimmage 5-7 times a game, he could do way more damage than he is currently doing. Simplicity is the name of the game for the Bengals right now and allowing one of their best athletes to get the ball and start running seems pretty simple.

Next. Should the Bengals be making better use of Alex Erickson?. dark