Like and believe it or not, the Cincinnati Bengals believe the ails of the passing game will be remedied with the return of wide receiver Marvin Jones and tight end Tyler Eifert. The team cemented this belief by not drafting a wide receiver until the seventh round this year's draft and by recently-releasing free agent acquisition Denarius Moore.
In the first few weeks of training camp, Jones fell into Marvin Lewis' doghouse a bit, after suffering a hamstring tweak and missing some time. He's recently made his way back and his impact has been felt on the field the past two games. His big splash came Saturday against the Bears, where Jones had one deep pass negated by a penalty and another tough catch and run for a 31-yard score.
What a TD!! A 31 yard throw to Jones, who navigates (and then powers) into the endzone. https://t.co/hJRYvu77RZ— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 30, 2015
Sometimes when a player has an injury, they get a little gun-shy when first returning to the playing field. That's not the case for Jones. On the touchdown catch, Jones pinballed his way into the end zone while taking a hit from a Bears defensive back. In speaking with the local media, it sounded like he couldn't have been happier about it.
"For me to get that feel and to be in those types of situations where I'm getting hit and somebody's falling on me and stuff like that, I can't get enough of that," Jones said. "You can't replicate that. I want as much of that as possible."
"I love that that happened," Jones said, smiling. "If you think about it, that was really my first super hard contact. That's what I wanted. To get hit a couple times and to fall in. Stuff like that, it's taking me back. 'Ah, this is me.' It was just a happy moment."
The injuries to Jones, Eifert, A.J. Green and other passing targets dropped the productivity of quarterback Andy Dalton in 2014. After breaking the Bengals' single-season records for passing yards (4,293) and touchdowns (33) in 2013, Dalton saw a career-low in touchdowns (19) as well as his second-highest interception total last season.
The shoring up of the running game and the return of weapons like Jones should provide more stability for Dalton and the rest of the offense this year. The 2015 season might be the first where the Bengals can adequately sell the play-action, opening up big-play opportunities for the speedy Jones.