Monday, June 30, 2014, 9:13am
During an interview with SiriusXM NFL this week, Bengals OC Hue Jackson said he believes that QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green are the top tandem in the league. He didn't say if he meant regular-season only.
"I think they're the best in the game in my opinion," Jackson said. "I know people will fight that and say differently, but I've watched these guys and these guys have grown. They came in together. They started off hot, they're still hot. Every year statistically, they've gotten better."
In terms of fantasy, not so much. But it should be noted that Green's production continues to climb, as the story pointed out. Green went from 65 catches in 2011 to 97 in 2012 and 98 in 2013. Green's 260 career receptions are the most by a receiver in NFL history through a player's first three seasons. Green's also improved on his yardage total in each of this three years. Green is once again one of the top fantasy receivers out there this season while Dalton is more of a QB2 with the potential to start on occasion.
Bengals beat writer Geoff Hobson on the team's offensive philosophy under new OC Hue Jackson:
"Jackson is committed to changing it and I think he’s also committed to taking the load off Andy Dalton. A big adjustment that has to make is cutting his pass attempts from 586 to closer to Russell Wilson’s number of 407.
"To heck with the short stuff. The running game should open up the deep ball and with Jackson’s experience under Al Davis you can believe they’ll be running many more vertical routes."
Hobson writes this with an editorial slant, so it should be taken with a grain of salt. Dalton's pass attempts are very likely to drop, but it's not likely that they fall to Seattle's levels. For one, the Bengals don't have the running game that the Seahawks have, and their defense isn't as good, either. Giovani Bernard is better in the receiving game (than Marshawn Lynch) and the Bengals have an elite receiver in A.J. Green. The Bengals were pretty balanced in 2013 and may tilt a bit more towards the run in 2014.
Bengals RB Cole Harvey was asked about the status of BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has been running behind rookie Jeremy Hill in OTAs: "If I had to guess I'd say that Green-Ellis will be cut before the season. By letting him go the Bengals will save $2.5 million in cap space this season; space that along with other cuts could help fund the contract extensions quarterback Andy Dalton and linebacker Vontaze Burfict are trying to get this offseason. Again, it's possible that a three-back system could work as long as there's a nice balance of pass-catching and power/finesse running among all three backs. Since Hill can play the role of a physical runner and can catch passes, too, it's not so clear that Green-Ellis would be a good fit as a third back in Cincinnati's scheme."
If Hill does take over as the complementary back to Giovani Bernard, then he'll have RB3/flex value since new OC Hue Jackson likes to run the ball a little more than Jay Gruden did.
Thursday, June 12, 2014, 2:32pm
In the two years that Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson spent in Oakland, he helped 255-lb Marcel Reece earn the nickname the “Matchup Nightmare.” Jackson used Reece as a fullback, tailback, and even had him line up at wide receiver to take advantage of his unique skills as a runner and receiver.
Could Jackson have similar things in mind for Mohamed Sanu?
“He’s got me doing some stuff,” said Sanu with a grin. “I love it. I’m embracing it and I’m going to do everything that I can to make sure that I’m the best at it.”
“He’s rolling,” said Marvin Jones. “He’s gotten a lot faster and more explosive and it’s good to see out there.”
“He’s running a lot better I think than he has the last two years,” said Andy Dalton. “He looks smooth and I think his speed has increased. It’s been fun to see all of the things that he does. He’s a guy that’s outside, inside, and can play all of the positions. You need a guy on the team like that that can do it all.”
"I think he's throwing the ball fantastic," Jackson said. "I really do. He's improved. I see it. I see it on the practice field."
"I see a very confident player who goes in and calls the play and makes decisions, who redirected things and gets us in the right place," Jackson said. "There's not a lot of negative football plays. That's what you want. He's taken charge and control."
For a guy who has finished #17, #12 and #4 in his first three seasons, Dalton doesn’t get a whole lot of respect. He’d be ranked higher this year if not for new OC Hue Jackson’s propensity to run the ball. However, Jackson’s 2011 Raiders threw the ball 52.9% of the time with Carson Palmer under center, which isn’t too far off the Bengals’ 55.0% pass rate in 2013. We’re expecting fewer pass attempts, but Dalton should still be a quality option for owners who like to stream the position or draft a committee.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 10:18am
The word is that Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, along with quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese and wide receivers coach James Urban, have emphatically stressed route precision so that Andy Dalton can anticipate quicker and get the ball out faster because he and his receivers have a more defined notion where they are going to be. The early returns appear to be good.
With deference to the late Al Davis, this year's Bengals don't want to be patient and take what the defense gives them. It seems they want to "take whatever the hell [they] want."
That's the identity Giovani Bernard seemed to reference Wednesday when he energetically told reporters about how much he was looking forward to new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's uptempo scheme.
"It's a lot more tempo, tempo, tempo," Bernard began, adding, "We're just going to smash your face in -- basically."
Jackson, who was elevated from running backs coach to offensive coordinator in January, wants to run and run and run some more. Then when he's done feeding Bernard and fellow backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Jeremy Hill carries in between the tackles, he wants to flank one out wide and pass to him for big after-the-catch yards off a playaction fake to another back. Then when he's called one or two of those plays, he wants Green or fellow receiver Marvin Jones to sprint down the sideline for an occasional "Go" route bomb from what he hopes is a more confident Andy Dalton.
This offensive coordinator wants to use the run to set up the pass.
Bernard should see an increase in touches in Jackson's run-heavy scheme, but that could be tempered somewhat if Jackson tries to involve both Green-Ellis and Hill in the running game. One thing is for sure -- Andy Dalton is not likely to throw as much in 2014.
Andy Dalton has been getting second looks from his wide receivers during their throwing sessions in Phase II of the voluntary sessions. His trip to Los Angeles back in March to work with throwing guru Dr. Tom House seems to have helped.
“Best I’ve seen him,” said Mohamed Sanu Wednesday. “I think it’s everything. That guy helped. He’s put a lot of work in the offseason, just seeing how he approaches it….it’s on you fast. You turn around and you’re like, ‘whoa.’”
“He’s got a lot of zing, a lot of velocity to him,’ said wide receiver Marvin Jones. “Especially when it matches the intensity with the way we run our routes. We run our plays in different periods and it just bring s everybody up, him included. He’s spinning the ball real nice.
Dalton was the #4 QB in 2013, but is unlikely to have a repeat finish in the top 5 now that Hue Jackson is calling the plays. Expect the Bengals to call more runs, especially when leading in the second half. Jackson had a 52.9% pass/run percentage in 2011 with Carson Palmer under center. The Bengals threw it 55.0% of the time in 2013.
New HC Jay Gruden commented again on how he plans to use QB Robert Griffin III...
“Robert’s the quarterback and ultimately Robert will play the position the way Robert plays it,” Gruden told Pollin. “You know, I’m not gonna turn him into a robot and say, ‘Stay in [the pocket] no matter what.’ Part of his effectiveness as a quarterback is his ability to run. But will we have designed runs for him? Maybe not as many as they had last year, but there’s a possibility of having those.
“Obviously when we call drop-back passes, we want him to be a drop-back passer, but if things break down like sometimes they do – sometimes guys are covered, they’re not open – he needs to be Robert and make good decisions. And sometimes throwing it away is a good decision, sometimes running for two yards is a good decision and getting down. So he’s got to play the position the way he plays it.”
Regarding the read-option...
“We’ll have sprinkles here and there,” Gruden said. “It’s not going to be a major part. I want to make sure that we have other things that we can do besides the read-option, because it takes a toll. You have to practice it a lot to be very good at it. It kind of takes away from the defense’s ability a little bit, it takes away from other plays that you need to work on, your protection schemes, your running game, all that stuff. It just takes away from that. So we want to make sure that we work on the core running game that we have, the core drop-back passes we have. And then once we get going, we get those implemented, maybe sprinkle in some read-option.”
Griffin is a major bounce-back candidate with the addition of DeSean Jackson and the arrival of Gruden, who coaxed top 5 numbers out of Andy Dalton. Rushing yards are a big part of his fantasy value, but he'll still be a threat in that area of the game even if the Redskins don't feature the read-option.
“He looks more comfortable, because he don’t have to worry about that brace,” Moss said. “I think the brace was the big discomfort last year. You know, he’s a young guy with those fiery legs that want to do so much, and that brace probably gave him a little pinch in the behind, because he couldn’t do the things that he was normally accustomed to doing. You can already see, when we’re out there in conditioning and stuff, he’s running around, looking like the old Robert Griffin.”
Which reminded me that Chris Cooley recently hit a local field with Griffin, and had a similarly rave review. This was before Griffin was permitted to work out with his teammates at Redskins Park; Cooley instead took the QB to his own gym, Lifetime Fitness near Ashburn. The men took turns running routes and throwing passes to each other.
“It’s unbelievable,” Cooley reported. “He’s another person right now. I was like, ‘you’re running unbelievably well.’ It was silly to watch….When you watch him run, you’re like ‘You’re a freak. You’re seriously a freak.’ ”
Griffin is a bounce back candidate now that he's another year removed from his ACL surgery and is able to discard the knee brace which obviously limited his mobility in 2013. Jay Gruden coaxed top 5 fantasy numbers out of Andy Dalton, so it's not inconceivable that he could do the same with RG3. It doesn't hurt that the Redskins have plenty of weapons in the passing game (e.g. Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Jordan Reed).
Hue Jackson is taking over as offensive coordinator after spending the 2013 season coaching Bengals running backs. In 2010, he was the offensive coordinator in Oakland before getting promoted to head coach in '11. The Bengals signed his quarterback from those two teams, Jason Campbell, last month in part to give Andy Dalton a veteran voice at the position that he hasn't really had throughout his career.
"You have to have the threat of running the ball and the threat of being a physical unit in order to last for the duration of the season," Jackson said on the radio interview.
This is good news for Giovani Bernard and not so good news for the fantasy prospects of Dalton, A.J. Green and Marvin Jones. The Bengals were 12th in pass attempts in 2013 and it sounds as if that number (587) is going to drop in 2014.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 8:34pm
"We are hopeful we can get a deal done that works and Andy can put it behind him," Lewis said. "He can get back focusing on football. He doesn't have to go into the season and worry about this contract thing, every week someone is going to ask him a question … all those things that come into play later on. Let's get it behind us."
Despite some early playoff exits, the Bengals are committed to keeping Dalton around. However, he's still a QB2/committee-type of fantasy QB.
Thursday, March 20, 2014, 3:23pm
The Bengals made it clear that Campbell is not a threat to starter Andy Dalton.
“I worked with Andy Dalton for three years in Cincinnati, and built a foundation of concepts and protections that I think worked well with him,” Gruden said. “With Robert, we’ll obviously use his skill set differently. When it comes to the quarterback position, my job is to make him comfortable and productive. I’m not going to try to turn RG3 into Andy Dalton or Drew Brees. He isn’t them. They’re not him. I would be foolish to try to turn RG3 into a pocket passer. It would be foolish. The way he is as a runner, we have to take advantage of that. He strikes fear into defensive coordinators when he runs outside. I’m going to let him be himself.”
Griffin's fantasy value will be a hotly debated topic heading into 2014 drafts. On a per game basis he was the #3 QB in his rookie season, but finished #17 in the same category in 2013. If he's healthy, he should be a fantasy QB1.
“He’s won big games for us and he’ll continue to win big games. We ask a lot out of him, there’s no doubt about it. He just finished his third season of doing it. I believe in his abilities, I believe in his makeup, I believe in his maturity and I believe in his ability to let the last play go and move on to the next play. That’s probably one of his best attributes along with his abilities,” Lewis said. "He had another very good season. He’s progressed well. We need to continue to do things to make his job just easier and easier to do, and make sure to continue to be repetitive with what we do for him, and continue to let the players around him continue to get better, and they continue to get better and that’s all we have to work at."
Apparently Dalton was looking for that assurance. After taking part in three turnovers in his third straight poor postseason performance, Dalton is under terrific heat from fans and pundits despite his three-year starting record in the regular season of 30-18 as one of four quarterbacks in NFL history to lead his team to the postseason in his first three years as a pro.
It sounds as if the Bengals will not make a change at QB this offseason.