Offseason Playbook: Bengals

A look at Cincinnati's philosophy, team needs and a key free-agent move

Originally Published: March 2, 2013
By Gary Horton and Field Yates | ESPN Insider
A.J. Green John Grieshop/Getty ImagesThe Bengals hope to add a quality No. 2 wide receiver to pair with star A.J. Green.

In a new offseason series, Insider takes an in-depth look at NFL teams before free agency begins March 12. What is each team's philosophy on offense and defense, what are its biggest needs, and which one player could make for an ideal signing in free agency?

Team philosophies

Offense -- This is technically a West Coast offense, but there are some unique "tweaks" under coordinator Jay Gruden that give it some flexibility. The Bengals will throw deeper routes than a lot of West Coast offenses, mostly to wide receiver A.J. Green, but many of their personnel are better suited to the short-to-intermediate passing game. They like three-wide receiver sets to spread the field and will use their tight ends over the middle, and their backs are more of blitz pickup/pass blockers than outlet receivers. They like to think they are physical between the tackles, but they show more zone-blocking looks and even some stretch plays. When the run game is going well, it opens up play-action and bootleg opportunities for quarterback Andy Dalton -- something that really suits his skill set. They would like to get more explosive plays out of their running game, and Dalton needs more passing targets than just jump balls to Green.


To see the rest of the file on the philosophy and offseason needs for the Cincinnati Bengals, you must be an ESPN Insider.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.