Offseason Playbook: Bengals
A look at Cincinnati's philosophy, team needs and a key free-agent move
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?
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.
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