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Open letter from Bengals fans to Bill Lazor

Bengals fans supplied us with their most pressing questions for the new OC, and we’ve attempted to answer them, while also crafting a letter to Lazor hoping he’ll do the same.

Washington Redskins 2007 Headshots
Bill Lazor
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Every true Cincinnati Bengals’ fan has his or her own explanation for the team’s offensive struggles so far this season. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were able to take your questions straight to the horse’s mouth?

Well, now you can, sort of. We have asked our Twitter followers to share specific questions for Cincinnati’s new offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor. We’ve taken those and more and compiled an open letter to the Bengals’ new offensive coordinator. Who knows? Maybe we will even get some real answers.

I will begin with my own question. Obviously, the Bengals’ offensive line is having problems. The Bengals feature one of the best quasi-fullbacks in the business in Ryan Hewitt, who has rarely been used through Cincinnati’s first two games.

Why not keep Hewitt in as an additional blocker and move him to the side that is having the most problems? Hewitt is also an excellent pass-catcher, so he can always slide into the flat if there is no one to block. The Bengals can also run out of this formation and have done so successfully in the past.

Now let’s add some of yours. If you have not already done so, just send your question to my Twitter feed, and we will add your question to the letter.

Dear Coach Lazor:

The Bengals have already been featuring a lot of quick passes, but have not gotten the running backs or tight ends heavily involved in the passing attack. And Cincinnati did feature 24 running plays Thursday night and 22 in Week 1, but the three-headed monster never allowed any one back to get into a rhythm.

Given the fact that Lazor is a disciple of former Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, I think we can look forward to a much faster-paced offense. Which means less time for the ball to be in Dalton’s hands, and less opportunity for opposing defenses to rack up the sacks.

The no-huddle requires a lot of communication along the offensive line, and with so many new faces up front, this is something may not be in the cards anytime soon.

Dalton is a very intelligent quarterback and has experienced a lot of success with the audible. But the Bengals have been trying to take some of that pressure off of Dalton since he rarely has time to do anything but run for his life. Until the offensive line problems get fixed, the less thinking that Dalton has to do, the better.

The Bengals certainly have not had many touchdown plays called since 2015, which is why you heard A.J. Green complaining publicly last week. I think you can count on hearing lots more from both Green and Tyler Eifert, but this time it will be on the field and not in the locker room (at least not publicly).

Bengals’ defensive end Carlos Dunlap shared a tweet about complacency, and I certainly don’t think anyone will be taking anything for granted after all of this. And, as Dalton said, you can’t win in the NFL without scoring touchdowns. Let’s hope we see some of that, and in a hurry.

The Bengals looked like they had finally remembered that Eifert was semi-healthy Thursday night toward the end of the first half. But the old back injury flared up late in the third quarter and limited his effectiveness.

Eifert showed the rust when he stepped out of bounds in the end zone to nullify what would have been the Bengals’ first touchdown of 2017, but that is a mistake he probably will never make again. Still, you have to keep going back to Eifert and Green in the red zone. Sooner or later, something good is going to come of it.

It seems like coach Lazor has already decided that the three-back approach will not work, since he stressed the importance of allowing both your quarterback and your running back to get into a rhythm. And, as a Kelly disciple, Lazor would certainly seem to have that attack mentality.

But you are exactly right. It is about time we started to put the pressure on the defenses instead of allowing them to pressure is. What we need to see is John Ross on the field a lot more, along with Tyler Boyd, who was a mysterious inactive Thursday night. And does anyone know what happened to Cody Core? And I think we are all ready to see what the speedy Josh Malone can do.

I really believe that Ross is the key to turning this thing around. And the coaches need to show faith in their young receiver, despite the inevitable rookie mistakes. As many readers were astute enough to point out, Kansas City running back Kareem Hunt fumbled on the first carry of his NFL career Sunday afternoon. But his coaches stuck with him, and he responded with 14 carries for 148 yards, five receptions for 98 yards and three total touchdowns.

Yet, Ross never got another chance Thursday night. And, contrary to what some might success, Ross was not being careless with the ball when he fumbled. He had the ball tucked high and tight, but lost it when the defender’s helmet made direct impact with the football. We are left to wonder what the evening might have been like had Ross continued to get touches. Hopefully, we will now get a chance to find out just how big of an impact he can have on this offense.

The problem is not so much who do we bench as it is who do we put in to take their place. Andre Smith is about the only option to replace Cedric Ogbuehi or Jake Fisher and T.J. Johnson, the backup center, is now the Bengals’ starter at right guard.

Take a look at the offensive tackles still available in free agency, and there are only a couple to choose from. Maybe there is a diamond in the rough lurking someone on the waiver wire, but it is going to take someone who is willing to put in the time and effort to find one.

The better bet is to try to find the strengths of the players that we do have, as difficult of a task as that might be, and play to those strengths. And we need to give our tackles a lot more help than a couple of slide steps from Eifert.

I think we are all hoping to see this scenario play out. Throw in another five or so targets in the passing game for Mixon, and let’s see what happens.

I hate the idea of giving up on Hill, and he can still be a real asset on the goal line, if the Bengals ever get down there. But Hill probably will not be in Cincinnati next season, and the team needs to find out exactly what it has in Mixon. Bernard is a known commodity who seems to have come back stronger than ever from that torn ACL.

In his defense, Dalton has not had a lot of time to survey the field before the pressure gets to him. And his biggest completion so far has come when he threw right into the teeth of the coverage. His 50-yard completion to A.J. Green Thursday night was thrown into triple coverage.

So maybe what we need is a little more of Dalton throwing into coverage, which would mean a bigger dose of Green. Better still, let’s get some of our speed receivers back on the field and force some of that double coverage away from Green. There is no one in the National Football League who can cover Green one-on-one with any consistency. And, as we saw Thursday night, even triple coverage is sometimes not effective.

It will probably take more than a couple of bad games from Dalton before we see AJ McCarron get his chance to run this Bengals’ offense. If offensive line coach Paul Alexander, together with Lazor, can somehow figure out a way to cure the line woes, or otherwise find ways to give Dalton more time, and he still continues to struggle, then it might be time.

And throwing McCarron into the current situation would not be doing the young signal-caller any favors. Until the Bengals get those protection issues resolved, not even Tom Brady nor Aaron Rodgers would have much success in the Bengals’ backfield.

If you did not get your questions in on time through twitter, you can always add your comments following this article.