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Bengals Run Direction Breakdown (And Why They Should Stop Running To The Left)

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Breaking down the direction in which the Cincinnati Bengals run the football, with glaring data that suggests abandoning the left side.

Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Chris Burke with Sports Illustrated wrote an interesting note on Tuesday. Rather than setting the table with hyperbole, let's get to the point.

Miami’s run defense is one of the best in the league right now, so struggling to find room against it is no great embarrassment. But Green-Ellis had his worst game of 2012, by far, on Sunday (nine carries, 14 yards) and his production has fallen off since a strong opening game at Baltimore. One issue: The Bengals don’t seem willing or able to run left. Green-Ellis headed left of center just once, for a two-yard loss, and Cincinnati’s only positive gain outside the tackle in that direction came on an eight-yarder by Bernard Scott.

According to the NFL Game Statistics and Information System, the amount of running plays called in each direction, the average of each gain and where they rank compared to the rest of the NFL.

Plays: 17 Plays: 17 Plays: 12 Plays: 34 Plays: 19 Plays: 14 Plays: 13
Rank: 11 Rank: 14 Rank: 17 Rank: 18 Rank: 6 Rank: 18 Rank: 16
Avg: 2.18 Avg: 1.88 Avg: 5.83 Avg: 3.79 Avg: 4.21 Avg: 3.21 Avg: 5.08
Rank: 28 Rank: 28 Rank: 1 Rank: 18 Rank: 10 Rank: 20 Rank: 14

Excluding "Center" that's 46 runs to the left and 46 runs to the right for the season. Play direction isn't so much a problem, based on this data (thanks for pointing that out, Mr. Obvious). It's in actual production. When running to the left of center Jeff Faine, the Bengals are averaging 3.02 yards per rush. That average skyrockets to 4.15 when the Bengals run behind Kevin Zeitler and Andre Smith.

According to ESPN's split breakdown of BenJarvus Green-Ellis:

L.SIDELINE 11 20 1.8 0 12
L.SIDE 27 79 2.9 1 19
MIDDLE 22 89 4.0 0 13
R.SIDE 22 94 4.3 1 14
R.SIDELINE 9 18 2.0 0 4

Compressed to differentiate the left and right.

MIDDLE 22 89 4.0 0 13
LEFT 38 99 2.61 1 19
RIGHT 31 112 3.61 1 14

Maybe Burke has a point. But if it's a difference between running to the left and right, can we hardly blame them for reducing their shots to the left?