When looking at this year's nominees for the 2016 Bengals offensive MVP, there are a couple of concepts to consider. Given the injuries on the unit, we could nominate players who stepped up in big ways as replacements or those who played well when dealing with said injuries. We could also look at the star players who went down with injury and the obvious lack of production their vacancies caused as the ones to nominate.
We attempted to find a middle ground between the approaches, so cast your vote for the Bengals' 2016 Offensive MVP and sound off on your winner!
Quarterback Andy Dalton: When simply looking at the numbers for Dalton between 2015 and 2016, there is a noticeable dip in passing touchdowns and passer rating, even though Dalton missed essentially four games last year. Still, with injuries to star weapons, Dalton's 4,206 yards in 2016 was second in franchise history, only to his own record from 2013, and had just one more interception (eight) than he had in 13 games last year, while also maintaining a 91.8 passer rating.
Running Back Jeremy Hill: Yes, I know Hill has fallen out of favor with most fans, but he still showed some big improvement from 2015 in two important categories: fumbles and long runs. After fumbling the ball nine times in 2014 and 2015 (including the playoffs), the ball didn't leave his hands in 2016. He also once again proved to be an ample touchdown producer with nine this year, giving him 29 for his career. Hill had his second-best season in receiving with 21 catches and 174 yards.
Wide Receiver A.J. Green: Oh, what could have been. Not only was Green heading for what looked like the best statistical season of his illustrious career, but the team likely could have won some critical games (Weeks 11, 12 and 15) for their playoff push had he been in the lineup. Even missing what was essentially seven games in 2016, Green made the Pro Bowl while finishing with 66 catches for 964 yards and four touchdowns. To ease any concerns, he won't be playing in the All-Star game, due to his hamstring injury.
Wide Receiver Brandon LaFell: We get the feeling he might not get the love that some others on this list will, but LaFell had a pretty darn good season for the Bengals in 2016. He finished second in both receptions (64) and receiving yards (862), while leading the team in touchdown receptions with six. LaFell particularly came up big when Green and Tyler Eifert missed time down the stretch.
Offensive Tackle Andrew Whitworth: It wasn't the best year from Whitworth in his great career, but he still was a steady force on an offensive line that struggled with pass protection all season long. It's unclear if Whitworth will be back with the team next year, but he was still one of the better linemen, by Pro Football Focus' standards.
Right Guard Kevin Zeitler: Cincinnati has another big decision to make on their offensive line. While the group allowed 41 sacks this year, Whitworth and Zeitler were low on the totem pole of offenders. Zeitler also was in PFF's late-season top-25 offensive linemen list, and is looked at as the top guard set to hit the free agent market. He was a big reason for the Bengals' finish in the top half of the league in both passing and rushing offense.