The Bengals remade their offense — and their franchise — over the weekend.
Now they just have to trust all the new parts will magically fall into place without working together.
Given the uncertainty about when teams might actually be able to work on the field as a group, Bengals coach Zac Taylor knows one of his biggest challenges will be getting first overall pick Joe Burrow and second-rounder Tee Higgins up to speed with A.J. Green and all their new teammates without the normal array of OTAs and minicamps.
“We’re going to have to find a way to manufacture a lot of the physical reps that we could potentially be missing out on all spring,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor told Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America. “If you’re taking a guy that you don’t trust has the work ethic, and the consistency in his daily approach to do that on his own, then you’re going to have problems. We’ve seen this coming for a couple weeks now what this offseason may look like and feel very comfortable that we can handle things virtually on our end, teach him what it should look like, show him on film what it should look like, and then have the trust factor that he’s going to find a way to be creative and manufacture in his backyard, in a field next to his house. . . .
“That’s not just Joe. That’s Tee Higgins. That’s all these guys. We’re going to have to really challenge them: Be creative in how you’ll approach this.”
Taylor said he wasn’t worried about Burrow being able to handle the technical adjustments to the pro game or the Xs and Os, once they’re able to work.
”I don’t think schematically there’s gonna be anything that’s overly concerning with him,” Taylor said. “It’s just the physical reps of playing against the speed in the NFL. And the different defenses you’ll face and the disguises that those guys can utilize. As smart as you are, sometimes you just need those physical reps. You need to train your eyes to see them at this level. He played in the SEC. You saw how many picks went in the first round from the SEC. It’s gonna get you as prepared as it can. But nothing can replicate what an actual NFL defense looks and feels like on game day, particularly in our division.
“So, you just want those physical reps as much as you can get them. We’ll take it—every practice they’ll give to us when the time comes. We’ll utilize all of them. Do our best to get up to speed and make sure we account for all those physical reps that may be missing right now.”
When those reps begin remains to be seen.