Bengals’ offseason goal will make NFL defenses more fearful

Bengals' offseason goal will make NFL defenses more fearful

Having an identity crisis in the middle of the season is not ideal for any NFL team. It’s what the Cincinnati Bengals had to quickly overcome last year to get their season on track.



For the first four weeks of the 2022 campaign, the Bengals‘ offense proved far too predictable, primarily due to the run game.



Bengals' offseason goal will make NFL defenses more fearful



Their insistence on running wide zone under center despite basing a passing attack almost entirely out of shotgun proved tumultuous, and a sudden shift into running out of the gun barely saved the unit before it was too late.

Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan has no interest in repeating that process again this season, which is why it became an emphasis during the Bengals’ offseason programs.



The simple solution is to just run the ball better under center, but if your passing game isn’t effective in this pre-snap alignment, then that goal becomes harder to accomplish.



Bengals' offseason goal will make NFL defenses more fearful



Instilling the threat of creating explosive plays from a drop-back passing attack will eventually make your under center offense less predictable. Cincinnati spent plenty of practice time in May and June hammering down play action concepts, as Callahan explained on the Locked On Bengals Podcast this week.

“That’s a point of emphasis for us this year,” Callahan said. “With the way the season unfolded, how we pivoted about halfway through our transition into the shotgun game, we found more creative ways to run the ball out of the shotgun. We found more creative ways to attempt some play action. And one of things I think we could have done a better job of and that we will do this year is marrying up that system of offense with the play action game.

“I think that part of it is has been fun to explore this year, and that was probably part of why you saw so much of it.”

Callahan and Co. knew this was an issue during the season, but there’s no time in-between games to completely rework the offense from the ground up.

Bengals' offseason goal will make NFL defenses more fearful

It was a problem for the offseason, and the work has already begun remedying it. The Bengals made it work last year. They experienced much success running into lighter boxes when defenses couldn’t key in on the play before the snap. In fact, they ranked fifth in rush success rate from Week 5 through the AFC Championship game, per

Should they hit the ground running with a more diversified attack out of the gate, defenses will find it considerably tougher to put a cap on the Bengals’ offense at its full strength.