The Bengals offense has had its struggles this season.
The unit is ranked just 27th in rushing and 23rd in total yards per game, but offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has managed to get points on the board regardless. His group is the 10th ranked scoring offense in the NFL and besides a few rough patches along the way, his system has been more successful than not.
There are plenty of reasons why the team has been successful this season, and that is mostly because of all the emerging talented players on that side of the ball.
Unfortunately, a few players were eliminated from consideration because of their extensive time missed due to injury. Players like Giovani Bernard and Tyler Eifert were among this group, and they deserve recognition for their production before their injuries, but we’re sticking to those who’ve been available the most.
Joe Mixon was also a victim of this, as he missed two games due to minor knee surgery. If he can stay healthy, however, he could end up being the offensive MVP for the season.
Before we reveal the offensive MVP, here are the honorable mentions:
A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, wide receivers
These two honestly had really strong cases on their own. Boyd leads the team with 49 catches, and Green leads the team with 687 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Both are producing at similar levels across the stat sheet, and whenever one had a down game, the other took it upon himself to carry the passing game.
It’s been impressive witnessing what Boyd has been able to do in his third season. Last year he was essentially a non-factor up until the final two weeks of the season, but this year he has proven to be the compliment to Green that this team has needed since they let Marvin Jones Jr. and Mohamed Sanu walk following the 2015 season.
What kept these two from being MVP altogether is each other’s presence. The fact they have put up eerily similar numbers can’t be ignored when the race for MVP has been this close up until this point in the season. You could argue that Green is more valuable because of the attention he receives every game, but even then it is still hard to put him that much farther ahead of Boyd.
Midseason Offensive MVP
Andy Dalton, quarterback
The Dalton haters don’t have much weight behind their jeers at this point. We need to recognize the season Dalton has put together so far.
First of all, his production, and the consistency of its accumulation, have been admirable. He has 2,102 passing yards (13th in the NFL), 17 touchdowns (tied for third) while only been sacked 16 times, which has as much to do with him getting rid of the ball quickly and avoiding pressure as the improvements to the offensive line.
The first number many will point to criticize Dalton is his interceptions, as he is tied for fourth in the NFL with eight. However, when you look at those numbers on a game-to-game basis, he only has one game with more than one interception, which was when he had four interceptions against the Panthers thanks to a couple of tipped passes.
It is also worth mentioning that Dalton only has two weeks this season where he has thrown less than two touchdowns (he has no games without a touchdown). He has had two or more touchdowns in six of his eight games. The lack of disaster games from the Bengals quarterback has been a breath of fresh air.
Finally, let’s talk about how clutch he has been this season. In Week 1 against the Colts, the Bengals were facing a 13-point deficit in the third quarter. He helped lead the offense to 17 straight points before Clayton Fejedelem put the game away with a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Three weeks later, the Falcons were up by six against Dalton’s Bengals with just over four minutes remaining. After converting not one, but two fourth-down conversions, Dalton tied the game up with a dart to Green in the end zone in the final seconds of the game. An extra point from kicker Randy Bullock sealed the Bengals’ third win of the season.
Against the Steelers two weeks later, Dalton orchestrated another successful final drive to take the lead, but his defense couldn’t hold back the Steelers offense in the final seconds. There were people who criticized them for scoring too soon, but how many times in the Dalton era has the offense even pulled off such a drive in that situation?
Of course, he just put one together against the Buccaneers last week after the defense gave up 18 fourth-quarter points. Dalton put the team in field goal position and allowed Bullock to make up for his missed extra point earlier in the game.
Dalton’s stats may not blow us away, and they aren’t of that of an elite quarterback. You still have to admit the Bengals wouldn’t be close to 5-3 if it weren’t for him this season.
Who gets your vote for the Bengals midseason offensive MVP?
This poll is closed