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Film Room: Josh Malone is the deep threat the Bengals are looking for

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Josh Malone is a big play waiting to happen.

Cincinnati Bengals v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

John Ross is not the only wide receiver hoping to make an impact in the Bengals’ offense during his sophomore campaign.

Head coach Marvin Lewis has made it clear this offseason that the Bengals passing game has to be better at pushing the ball down the field. Based on Josh Malone’s résumé heading into the 2018 season, he can be absolutely be a part of the solution to this problem.

Malone has been billed as a deep threat and he shows why in this clip. He chops his feet and flashes his shoulders to the inside just a few yards into this route which is enough to make the corner jump the underneath route.

Malone then opens his stride back up and there is nothing between him and the end zone. His speed and quickness make him a threat to take it to the house on any given play.

Here is another deep ball. Malone shows the ability to track the ball and make an over the shoulder catch. He does this while keeping his feet in bounds for the touchdown reception. Malone has the concentration to focus on the ball and the spatial awareness to stay in bounds.

For all of his quickness and footwork, Malone also possesses great size and he can go up and get the ball when he needs to. During last season’s preseason opener, quarterback Jeff Driskel puts some air on the ball to throw it away from the defender and Malone gets vertical for the touchdown reception.

Malone has to high-point the high-velocity target and comes down with the ball by timing his leap with full extension from his frame. This is a valuable skill to have particularly in the red zone.

Another aspect of being a big wide receiver is being able to take a hit. In the Bengals first preseason game this year, Malone took a big shot on the sideline immediately after hauling in a pass on a corner route, but was able to bring the ball into his body and absorb the contact with it.

Even though this is a sideline catch, it demonstrates that Malone can make a catch across the middle and hold onto the ball when the safety fills hard.

Malone has excellent ball-tracking skills and can adjust his body to make a catch on poorly place balls. Below are a few examples of Malone turning and adjusting at the right time to make a catch.

In the checkerboard end zone clip, the quarterback puts the ball to the outside away from the defender so Malone and only Malone can make a play on the ball. He turns and tracks the ball, making the catch below his waist.

In the clip against the defender in gray, he turns back and makes the catch over the defenders shoulder. As a result, the defender is all over him, but Malone still manages to put the ball away for the touchdown catch.

His timing is what allows him to create the sliver of space he needs to make a clean catch and why the defender has no time at all to react. He makes a similar play in the middle of the field in the last clip and is able to turn up field for the touchdown.

Malone doesn’t just run by defenders off the line of scrimmage. When he has the ball on his hands he has the vision and speed to turn any play into a big play. Here he catches the ball on a quick bender over the middle. He takes the right angle to get the edge on the pursuing defenders and turns the play into a touchdown.


With a clear focus on deep passing game in Cincinnati, Malone could be a major factor in the offense in 2018. Even if he does not end up being in the top three or four slots on the depth chart, he can make big plays with limited reps.

Regardless of the play call, when Malone is on the field Andy Dalton should be given the freedom to take a look at Malone’s matchup and call an audible whenever he likes what he sees. Malone could be the big play wide receiver this team has been waiting for.