You would think the guy that broke the NFL Combine record for fastest 40-yard dash would be a dangerous downfield threat. But that’s just not the way it turned out for John Ross.
Despite running a record 4.22 second time, Ross was mostly just a red zone weapon in 2018. He caught seven touchdown passes, but only two of them came from outside the 20-yard line.
So when Brian Callahan became the offensive coordinator for the 2019 season, he saw Ross as more than a red zone weapon.
“His speed is rare,” said Callahan, via Geoff Hobson. “Usually a guy is one of two things. Straight line (speed) guys are really fast or really quick and not very fast. He’s both. His quickness jumped off the tape more than anything. His change of direction is really good.”
When Ross played Callahan’s Raiders in Week 15 last season, he only had one catch for six yards on five targets. He also had a rush for three yards, but Callahan wants to improve his production.
Now that trade talks have been dismissed, Ross will be an integral part of the Bengals’ offense in 2019. Even though his production in the red zone is nothing to dismiss, his potential to take the top off the defense is something that will help the young offensive staff.
“I’m excited about finding a role for him in our offense,” Callahan said. “He can play inside, he can play outside. It’s our job on offense to get the most out of him. It just takes time in this league. Sometimes there are guys that have an impact immediately, but there are other players it takes one, two, three years to make the jump to be professional. I think it’s a great challenge for us and John to make the jump and be a productive part of our system.”
Whatever system Callahan concocts with Zac Taylor, Ross will be unleashed.
Seeing Ross take that next step should, in turn, help the Bengals offense to do the same.