This week, John Fay is getting answers to nine questions the Bengals face heading into the regular season. This is the fifth of the series.
CINCINNATI -- How different will the offense be with Ken Zampese as the offensive coordinator instead of Hue Jackson?
It probably won’t be noticeably different to a casual fan. Zampese’s been on the Bengals staff for 14 years, the last 13 as quarterbacks coach.
“I don’t know if fans will notice it or not,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “There are some new things we’re doing, some things we’ve tweaked, some things we’ve changed.
“But we’re trying to do whatever we can to score points.”
The roster may dictate some changes. The Bengals have two good running backs in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. The only wide receiver holdover is A.J. Green. And tight end Tyler Eifert is likely out for Week 1 against the Jets in New York.
So you may see more emphasis on the running game. Head coach Marvin Lewis’ theme for the season is “Pound the Rock.” That’s very different from “Throw the Rock.” But the theme is about more than what the Bengals will do offensively.
“It just reflects that we have to stay the course, keep pounding,” Lewis said. “We have to continue to be physical, to be relentless. So I am pressing that one on them that way. Doing the little things right. It’s about work and competing, outworking the guy across from you for 60 minutes. We’ve developed some really good core values here, and we want to continue to press those as we move forward. Our guys walk in the door and they understand that. That’s good for when new guys walk in and see that. They have to get in step right away or they stand out.”
The Bengals were a balanced team on the whole last year. They finished fifth in the NFL in total yards. They were 13th in rushing at 112.8 a game and 15th in passing at 245.2 a game.
You’ll likely see a similar mix, although because of the lack of experience at receiver, it may not be that way from the start.
But Dalton is coming off his his best year. He set a Bengals record with a 106.5 quarterback rating, so the Bengals won’t become a three-yards-in-a-cloud-of-dust offense.
“I’m confident in my ability and what this offense can do,” Dalton said. “That should carry over. It was the best season I’ve had. For me, it’s to try to improve on that.”
John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
QUESTION 1: How will Bengals fare without Tyler Eifert?
QUESTION 2: Will Alex Erickson shine in regular season?
QUESTION 3: How much will Bengals miss Vontaze Burfict?