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Top-Five Bengals Offseason Priorities: Surround Dalton With Even More Talent, No.3

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We continue the offseason priority countdown with an opinion that could cause some uneasiness. What other weapons could the Bengals add?

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If you've been reading these offseason priority lists and are seeing how each either feed into the next and/or intertwine, you're not crazy. We kicked off the list with a broad-sweeping look at the Bengals changing their organizational stripes, and followed that up with the team's need to figure out the slot receiving position. That all plays into the No.3 point on our offseason priorities list.

Most who see this point aren't looking through the lens of Bengals management. Fans that read this will likely cry out for a new quarterback as a need this offseason, not continuing to prop up an embattled guy who is and has been gaining the reputation of a guy who can't beat the good teams in the biggest of spotlights. Well, here is a news flash for you: barring something completely unforeseen (namely an injury), Andy Dalton will be the Bengals' starting quarterback in 2015.

Marvin Lewis basically said as much at The Senior Bowl. Don't shoot the messenger, folks.

That being the case, the plan for 2015 should be pretty similar to what it has been since No.14 was drafted back in 2011: Surround him with as much talent as possible. Injuries on offense and a sub-par defensive performance put a lot pressure on Dalton to create miracles. And, whatever your thoughts are on Dalton, he simply isn't a miracle-worker like some of the perceived "elite quarterbacks" (lame term) in the league.

Get More "YAC" Guys:

A big knock on Dalton throughout his career has been the inconsistency with the deep ball. There are some that he's unleashed that help bring truth to his "Red Rifle" moniker. Many others seem to be vastly over or under-thrown causing sighs of exasperation. Where Dalton does seem to excel though, are those short and intermediate routes--either in the flats or in the middle of the field.

As we addressed in the previous post in this series, Dalton was severely hampered in this respect with all of the injuries to the wide receiver and tight end corps. A tight end who can run a quick route, catch the ball and has enough speed to break one up the seam would be a great addition. Perhaps that's Tyler Eifert, or maybe it's a new face to add to the position group.

As we'll touch on in a future post, speed is an attribute that will be needed for this Bengals team in 2015. Marvin Jones was known as the "deep threat" of sorts, but he wasn't available for all of last season. A.J. Green's speed is outstanding for his size, but he's more of the Jack of All Trades type of guy, not the speedster. The Bengals need a guy who can take a bubble screen for a touchdown. They need a player who can take a slant route for a big gain after outrunning opponents. Maybe it's time to make room for these types of wideouts instead of the Brandon Tates of the world.

Defense Is Part Of The Equation, Too:

Many people look at Carson Palmer's 2005 campaign as one for the statistical ages--at least when speaking of the Bengals record books (side note: ironically, it was the embattled Dalton who broke those franchise touchdown and yard marks in 2013). That year from Palmer marked the best passing season since the 1988 MVP season of one Norman Julius Esiason. What people often overlook in that season was the crazy amount of turnovers, in the form of both touchdowns and creating of short fields for the offense, that the defense provided Palmer and Co. It's easy to overlook that though, given the overall terrible performances from that defense.

As I mentioned, a future post in this series will talk about speed and athleticism. The Bengals need this on defense as well to create more turnovers and even provide touchdowns as they did in 2013. In the chart below. You'll see the differences between the 2005, 2013 and 2014 defenses and how those areas affected the offense and the team, in general.

Year Fumble Recoveries Interceptions Touchdowns (D/ST)
2005 13 31 1
2013 14 20 6
2014 7 20 1

Though the interception total remained the same from 2013 to 2014, there were half as many fumble recoveries and five fewer touchdowns. One could attribute these to luck, choice bounces or the complete randomness that comes with turnovers, but the ability to create big plays also comes with players who have excellent speed, awareness and "play-making ability".

Conclusion:

We say it time and time again with Dalton: if he's your guy, get him as much help as possible. For the past couple of seasons, it appeared that the had Bengals achieved that. Unfortunate injuries, an overconfidence in certain players and the roster in general led to another heartbreak in 2014. Dalton is the guy in 2015, so I say, load up where and how you can.