If the Cincinnati Bengals want to take the leap from Wild Card losers to AFC contenders, they’ll need more production from an offensive unit that hasn’t cracked the top 20 in two seasons under Jay Gruden. At 332 yards per game in 2012 (ranked 22nd), the Bengals would need to get around 372 yards per game in 2013 to get into the top 8 offensive teams. Five of the top eight made it to the Playoffs in 2012 and with Cincinnati’s defense poised to be another top 10 unit, the Bengals could join the Playoffs again in 2013 for the third straight year.
Using the numbers from this offense from 2011-2012 and projecting the new changes to Gruden’s offense, here’s how I see the Bengals offense playing out in 2013.
Andy Dalton has been very efficient in his first two seasons in the NFL. He’s averaged over 3,500 yards passing and has racked up 53 total touchdowns in two seasons. His yards per attempt increased from 6.6 to 6.9 in his sophomore year and his accuracy jumped from 58.1 to 62.3 this past season. While his touchdown percentage was up in 2012 (3.8% to 5.1%), his interception percentage also increased (2.5% to 3.0%).
The additions of Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert and a healthy Mohamed Sanu should increase Dalton’s efficiency and accuracy again in year three, but it also may cap his yards per attempt at 7.0 because we can expect more passes to the running backs and more targets for the slower-type WR in Sanu. Eifert is the wild card because he can make plays on the ball down field. If he and Dalton are in synch early, it could help Dalton’s down field efficiency; an area that has held the offense back.
2013 Projection for Andy Dalton
Passing yards: 3,947
Yards per attempt: 6.95
Passing TDs: 30
QB Rating: 88.4
Rush yards: 130
Rush TDs: 2
Fantasy Points: 363
The Bengals are notorious for being loyal to their veteran, bell-cow runners and with BenJarvus Green-Ellis returning as the starter many are skeptical about the production of rookie Giovani Bernard.
Bernard and Green-Ellis aren’t even on the same planet in terms of talent and running back isn’t a position that needs time to develop from college to the NFL. I think it will only take a few games before Gio is taking the bulk of the carries and I expect him to get all of the passing game touches from day one.
But what about the Law Firm?
He’ll continue his role as the short yardage back and will often spell Bernard to change the pace. Cincinnati usually gives their top two backs about 87% of the total carries in a season under Gruden and their former RB coach (Anderson). The Bengals haven’t been good with rotating their backs, but Marvin Lewis puts that responsibility on his RB coach and Hue Jackson has that title for the first time in 2013. Remember, he hand-picked Giovani Bernard in the draft before any other back in that class. This is Hue’s guy.
2013 Projection for Giovani Bernard
Rushing TDs: 4
Rec Yards: 323
Rec TDs: 2
Fantasy Points: 196 (PPR)
2013 Projection for BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Rush TDs: 5
Rec Yards: 55
Fantasy Points: 102 (PPR)
A.J. Green leads the pack again as the focal point of the offense. They flow through him and as he goes, the rest of the offense goes. I expect second-year players Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones to take steps in relieving pressure from Green. Sanu is listed as the other starter, but he moves into the slot (where he’s much better) and Jones goes outside in 3-WR packages. With Andrew Hawkins expecting to miss most of the first half of 2013, Sanu shouldn’t see a bite into his slot snaps, but veteran backup Brandon Tate works at all three positions and the Bengals like his speed. They’ll find ways to mix him in the game.
Green has averaged about 40% of the total receptions by the team’s wide receivers since 2011. I projected him to be around 44.7% in 2013 after being about 44% in 2012. He should double the next closest receiver’s total receptions.
Sanu and Jones may see a drastic increase in playing time from their rookie years, but they’ll see their production bitten by rookies at RB and TE. With more 2-TE sets, we won’t be able to see Sanu in the slot as much and that will hurt his productivity. Jones needs to be more confident in his hands and catching away from his body, but he offers big-play ability and I could see Jay Gruden designing deep plays for him.
2013 Projection for A.J. Green
Rec Yards: 1,241
Rec TDs: 10
Rush Yards: 65
Fantasy Points: 278 (PPR)
2013 Projection for Mohamed Sanu
Rec Yards: 367
Rec TDs: 6
Rush Yards: 60
Fantasy Points: 114 (PPR)
2013 Projection for Marvin Jones
Rec Yards: 317
Rec TDs: 2
Rush Yards: 35
Fantasy Points: 72 (PPR)
Andrew Hawkins (8 games)
17 Receptions for 178 yards
50 rush yards and 3 total TDs
17 Receptions for 198 yards and 1 TD
The Bengals dove into the two-tight end craze when they drafted Tyler Eifert 21st overall. They now have the two highest drafted TEs in the last 5-years on the roster with veteran Jermaine Gresham as the other.
This offense already ran over 250 plays with 2-TE on the field in 2012 and we can expect that number to increase. With Gresham, you must look past the initial misevaluation. He isn’t this athletic receiving freak we were expecting. He’s more of a Power Forward (Basketball) playing TE. He’s amazingly strong and stout and plays with a nasty streak when he’s on. He’ll hold down the blocking duties and I look for Gresham to be used underneath as they try to get the ball into his hands early.
Tyler Eifert is more of the natural receiver. His hand-eye coordination and his ability to high-point the football is RARE for a tight end. He’ll play the slot, split out wide and come in motion. Look for Eifert to be another chess piece and challenge defenses down field and up the seam.
The tight end position has caught about 23% of the Bengals passes over the last two seasons and I’m projecting that number to increase to about 30% in 2013.
Gresham has also caught 75-88% of the total receptions by TEs on the Bengals in the last two seasons. I’m decreasing that number to 65% in 2013 with the addition of Eifert.
2013 Projection for Jermaine Gresham
Rec Yards: 693
Rec TDs: 5
Fantasy Points: 167 (PPR)
2013 Projection for Tyler Eifert
Rec Yards: 363
Rec TDs: 4
Fantasy Points: 91 (PPR)
***This leaves 23 receptions and 225 yards left to spare. I’m leaving those for the backup RBs, TEs and WRs that we can’t account for. They’ll get some playing time due to inevitable injuries.****