Since the draft started on Thursday, the Bengals have re-signed tackle Andre Smith and drafted four skill position players and three offensive linemen.
That’s made for an offense that looks considerably different from the one we saw when the Bengals last took the field and it will raise the expectations on a unit that sputtered to defeat against the Texans in the playoffs. That’s not just an outside perception, either. Quarterback Andy Dalton feels the same way.
“Well, there shouldn’t be any excuses,” Dalton said, via the Bengals website. “The players we already have and adding these guys is just going to make the offense better. So I expect us to take the next step, I expect us to improve from where we were last year. Time will tell, but we’ve got the right attitude going in and the way we’ve been working, I don’t expect any less.”
Tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard are the most intriguing additions to the offense from the draft. Eifert should give Dalton a weapon that makes it harder for defenses to sell out against A.J. Green in the passing game while Bernard is the kind of multi-talented back that the Bengals have been missing in the backfield for the last couple of years.
We can’t know right now what the new additions will mean for the Bengals offense once the season gets underway. If it isn’t a better unit than the one that flamed out in Houston, you can be pretty sure about who will be the guy held to the fire. It’s Dalton and his third NFL season is setting up to be a pretty defining one for his career trajectory.