3) New strategies and play calling
With a backup quarterback comes new offensive strategies. Or, in Cincinnati’s case, old offensive schemes. For the Bengals, that could mean several things. The first of which might be to lean on the running game more.
The Cincinnati Bengals rank 31st in rushing attempts this season. That is a ridiculous stat for a team with a hobbled quarterback struggling to produce and protect himself. Perhaps, with a backup quarterback, they would choose to, or be forced to, rely more on the running game and their talented running backs.
Through Week 4, the top five teams in rushing attempts—the Eagles, Ravens, Cowboys, Lions, and 49ers—are a combined 17-3. The teams with the fewest rushing attempts—the Vikings, Bengals, Jets, Broncos, and Raiders—are a combined 5-16. Perhaps the Bengals brass should consider running the ball more to protect Burrow and a struggling defense.
Running the ball is not a panacea for the struggling offense. Their expected points contributed by rushing offense -5.52, which ranks 15th. While not ideal, it is a virtual smorgasbord of anticipated scoring compared to the team’s -24.32 expected points contributed by the passing offense.
Another potential strategy shift would be to access more of the playbook. The Bengals coaching staff has limited the playbook to shotgun snaps and quick throws for the most part. As a result, they are not accessing parts of the playbook that include snaps from under the center, rollouts, bootlegs, seven-step drops, quarterback draws, and anything else that would require a quarterback to use his mobility to create offense.
Cincinnati would theoretically be able to run more of their offense with a healthy quarterback. Whether or not the backup quarterback would be able to run that office as successfully as Joe Burrow is running this current incarnation of an offense would be a question. However, at least we would find out how it would look.
We would also learn how Zac Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan's offensive system functions without Joe Burrow.
Many offensive-minded coaches would see this situation and say, "Challenge accepted.” They would have faith that their system could get a win or two with their second-string quarterback. However, it would appear that Zac Taylor has neither the interest nor the time to think about that. Maybe he should.