Monday, July 28, 2014, 8:17pm
Late in Monday afternoon's practice, on one goal-line exercise, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton stepped up in the pocket, then stepped back, rolled to his right away from more pressure, and threw the ball to an empty space well beyond the back corner of the end zone.
The play resulted in an incompletion. And his offensive coordinator couldn't have been happier.
Indeed, it was good recognition by the long-embattled quarterback who has struggled in the past with deciding in similar scenarios of good defensive coverage and pressure whether he wants to tuck the ball and run, take a sack, throw it away or still try to complete the pass.
More often than not, his instinct in the past was to make the play work anyway. The end result of those decisions? Typically wobbly passes that fluttered into the hands of a defensive back who greedily picked off the pass that shouldn't have been attempted. A number of Dalton's 20 interceptions last season came when he tried to force a pass.
This was one of the big things the Bengals wanted to work on with Dalton before the season. Simply getting rid of the ball and not forcing a play is something that plagues the most veteran of NFL QBs. Many feel the Bengals are going to throw the ball a little less this season with Hue Jackson running the offense, and as a result Dalton is ranked 17th among our QBs. He's still a quality QB2 option in certain matchups.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 12:24pm
As Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson started laying the groundwork of his new scheme this spring, he implored the players on his side of the ball to pick up their pace of play. He wanted them to break huddles quicker and get to the line of scrimmage at a similarly stepped-up tempo. His hope has been that in doing that, the Bengals will be able to get plays snapped earlier in the play clock. If they do that and move the chains as regularly as Jackson anticipates, they'll be calling more plays and wearing down more defenses by the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Andy Dalton had to adjust to the stepped-up tempo during minicamp and organized team activities. Overall, Jackson was quite pleased with the way Dalton led the group through that modified hurry-up, but he wants to see what the entire unit will be able do once the temperatures go up and the shoulder pads come on. I'll be keeping an eye on how well the group continues pushing the tempo it established in the spring, and if that will allow it to get into the rhythm Jackson is seeking. After all, the best offenses are the ones that can get in and stay in sync.
If the Bengals are successful in pushing the tempo, they'll likely be running more plays which may offset some of the concerns about Jackson going too run-heavy with his offensive play-calling.
Per a league source, Jones is day-to-day due to a tweaking of the ankle that happened at the post-OTA passing camp arranged by quarterback Andy Dalton. Jones had an issue with the ankle in 2013.
He finished as the #21 WR in 2013, racking up 51 catches for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 80 targets. What gives Jones upside is the fact that he played just 48% of the snaps, sharing time with the far-less-effective Mohamed Sanu. In that limited playing time, he posted the #4 FP/snap (.25) of all wideouts who played at least 20% of their team’s snaps. All indications are that Jones is going to start opposite A.J. Green, and even though new OC Hue Jackson likes to run it more than Jay Gruden did, Jones’ new role should ensure that he has plenty of opportunity to make plays in his third year.
Bengals Marvin Jones may have been the most efficient receiver in football last year. Of the 22 receivers with at least six touchdowns, Jones (10 TDs) did it in the fewest snaps (555). In fact, only two others on the list accumulated less than 725 total snaps. A full year of Jones on the field most plays and a burgeoning relationship with Andy Dalton could mean a massive spike in production from his 51 receptions for 712 yards.
He finished as the #21 WR in 2013, racking up 51 catches for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 80 targets. What gives Jones upside is the fact that he played just 48% of the snaps, sharing time with the far-less-effective Mohamed Sanu. In that limited playing time, he posted the #4 FP/snap (.25) of all wideouts who played at least 20% of their team’s snaps. All indications are that Jones is going to start opposite A.J. Green, and even though new OC Hue Jackson likes to run it more than Jay Gruden did, Jones’ new role should ensure that he has plenty of opportunity to make plays in his third year. He is shaping up to be a terrific value in the 9th-11th rounds.
Friday, July 11, 2014, 10:52am
He only wants quarterback Andy Dalton throwing him passes.
Whether that continues will depend largely on whether the Bengals get a contract done with Dalton.
"We came in together and that is the great thing for me and him," Green told NFL Network. "I know he's my guy. I don't want any other quarterback throwing me the ball. I think he feels the same way about me. ..
Green's endorsement is good for Dalton as his camp negotiates a new contract.
When asked about Sammy Watkins' potential production as a rookie, Bills.com writer Chris Brown used A.J. Green as a benchmark: "He is dependent on quarterback play and such, but I think A.J. Green is a good indicator as to what Sammy can be in his rookie season. Green was also the fourth pick in the draft and he played with a young quarterback at the time in Andy Dalton. Green had 65 catches for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns as the number one receiver in the Cincinnati offense. I don’t think those are unrealistic numbers for Watkins."
While a 1,000-yard season is certainly in the realm of possibility, seven touchdowns may be a stretch for the Bills, who had 16 passing touchdowns in all of 2013. We currently have Watkins projected for 70.7 catches for 989 yards and 5.3 touchdowns.
The Redskins failure last year to identify the blitz often left them with the wrong protection scheme, allowing 43 sacks in 2013.
This is something Jay Gruden must address. The Mike Shanahan regime left most of the protection setting to the center, not allowing QB Robert Griffin III much flexibility to change things at the line of scrimmage. While Gruden had his center heavily involved in Cincinnati, he also gave quarterback Andy Dalton the freedom to change the protection, and even the play, at the line of scrimmage if he saw fit.
The Skins have plenty of weapons for RGIII to utilize if he can start to recognize mismatches that he seemingly wasn't allowed to change in the past. This story points out a good example of the team having plenty of blockers, just doing a poor job of picking up a blitz on a play last season. RGIII is ranked 11th among our QBs and his ADP is the seventh, but if you can nab him as your backup QB, he could prove to be a guy you start more often.
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.