The Bengals finished last season sixth in the league in points and 10th in total yards, offensive numbers that were good enough to lift them to an AFC North title and third straight trip to the postseason.
It was also good enough to lift former offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to the head coaching job in Washington, leaving Hue Jackson to run the offense in Cincinnati this year. Jackson was on the staff last season as running backs coach, but he isn’t keeping things just as they were last season.
Running back Giovani Bernard says that “the mentality of the offense has changed” with Jackson calling the shots, particularly when it comes to the tempo. The Bengals are working to speed things up, which reminds left tackle Andrew Whitworth of the way the offense ran from 2005-2007 when Bob Bratkowski was the coordinator and Jackson was on the staff as wide receivers coach.
“You make it to where [the opposing defense] have to work and operate quicker and don’t have as much time to line up and dissect and all those types of things,” Whitworth said, via ESPN.com. “[Offensively], when you get hot a lot of time in that kind of situation, you get real hot. Working with a tempo is a great way to be able to play. Now you have to have players who are in condition to do that and that’s a total different thing. I can remember back in ’06, ’07 when we did no-huddle some … playing at that kind of tempo, it was always an adjustment to get used to being in that kind of shape.”
A high tempo doesn’t mean the Bengals will be relying on finesse as they are deep at running back after drafting Jeremy Hill and Bernard says they are going to “basically” try to smash in the face of the opposition. If the Bengals succeed at mixing that desire with a pace that presses defenses, it will make for a pretty appealing offensive identity in Cincinnati.