According to Football Outsiders, the Bengals lined up three-wide formation on nearly 57% of their total offensive snaps in 2010. And of those offensive snaps, the Bengals offense actually improved their Defense-adjusted Value Over Average to 24.0% (DVOA grades every play in the NFL and how other players/teams compared, with an adjustment of the opponent's strength). Cincinnati ranked below average in 0-1 wide receiver formations, two-wide formations and 4-5 receiver formations with a -32.3% DVOA.
In laymen terms, the Bengals offense played at its best in formations with three receivers. No more, no less. It's also not terribly surprising, incorporating Jordan Shipley into the slot while Jermaine Gresham lined up on the opposite side of the field at tight end, frequently giving the Bengals four threats in the passing game.
On the other hand, according to ESPN.com's generic stat sheets (that offer little context, but informative nonetheless), Carson Palmer posted a better passer rating of 87.6 in two-wide formation than he did with three wide receivers (85.0).
|2 WR||3 WR||4+ WR|
The irony is all of this means nothing. Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens could all be absent from the 2011 squad, replacing it with an entirely new offensive philosophy.