The brainiacs at Football Outsiders are at it again. The fellows over there are putting together a comprehensive almanac of 2011 statistics that they've compiled and are breaking down certain parts of them on their site throughout the offseason. On Sunday, they released a chart showing every teams' statistics while running in both one and two back sets.
Now, we know that the Bengals rushing attack was largely ineffective last season. So much so, that it was a near miracle what Andy Dalton was able to do for the team without the kind of help from this aspect of the offense that every rookie quarterback craves. According to Rivers McCown, the Bengals rank 18th averaging their effectiveness in both sets on offense.
In the single-back formation, the Bengals had a DVOA percentage (essentially an effectiveness ranking) of -7.8%. One could attribute this to not having a lead-blocking fullback on the field to point at the ineffectiveness here and you could be right. After all, the Bengals' run game suffered without one throughout most of 2010 and it killed the running game and the overall offense. According to their stats, the Bengals ran plays out of this formation 48% of the time.Though this is a bit troubling, it's not nearly as worrisome as some of the other statistics on the chart.
In 2011, the team made a re-commitment to the use of a fullback--namely Chris Pressley. Unfortunately, it still didn't do much for the team's running game as it was wildly inconsistent throughout the year. According to PFF, the DVOA for the Bengals in two back sets (which pretty much means when teams use a fullback, as they didn't account for "Wildcat plays") was a staggering -17.3%. Only eight other teams had worse stats in this area than the Bengals, with only two of those eight going to the playoffs-- the Patriots and the Lions. This obviously also doesn't bode well for newly-acquired free agent running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis in 2012 either.
With the acquisition of two new starting guards in Travelle Wharton and Kevin Zeitler, the overall running game should see an improvement. Though the blame isn't solely on Pressley's Shoulders, caution should be taken with him still manning the fullback position. After all, the Baltimore Ravens played to the strength of their rushing attack using 80% of their plays with Vontae Leach on the field, paving the way for Ray Rice.
Still, it's a group effort and with a revamping of basically three positions involved, the star should look better after the 2012 season is dissected.