For many NFL teams, the early weeks are all about figuring out who they are and how they can be successful.
That is certainly the case for the Cincinnati Bengals offensively.
Because they didn’t lose many key players from last season’s Super Bowl run, it is easy to forget that they have five new starters on offense (Hayden Hurst, La’el Collins, Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, and Cordell Volson).
This week against the New Orleans Saints, the Bengals finally found their offensive identity.
Let’s take a look at the film.
This is the run blocking I've been looking for from the AC/LC duo. Need to clean up the left double team, but what a great running lane and a nice job from Cappa to grab the LB. Also, great vision and a nice cut from Mixon (probably could've been tighter). Solid play, solid gain. pic.twitter.com/Kwi6K9afFK— Parker Blake (@ParkerBlake60) October 18, 2022
The Bengals tried anything and everything they could, trying to generate a run game early in the season, but over the last few weeks they have could a lot of success with duo.
This play features a great double-team by Volson (67) and Karras (64) and another between Cappa (65) and Collins (71). Cappa does an awesome job of coming off to pick up the linebacker who is filling fast, and Collins absolutely buries the defensive tackle.
Joe Mixon has a beautiful cut and does a good job of lowering his shoulder and picking up a few dirty yards at the end of the play. This is a signature run for a team in search of an identity.
With four new offensive linemen, and their top two tight ends from last season not on the field, it is no surprise that it took them time to figure out what they did well as a unit. Now, things really seem to be clicking.
Long Trap / Glance RPO to Tyler Boyd pic.twitter.com/9nufktPH9S— Mike (@bengals_sans) October 17, 2022
The Bengals built on their run game success this week with the use of RPOs (run pass options). In the example above, the run threat holds the inside linebacker and helps Tyler Boyd get open for a nice gain.
This is a great way of putting pressure on the defense and creating opportunities for your offense.
The Bengals have struggled in the Red Zone this season, but against the Saints they were 3 for 3. Their use of the empty formation played a big part in their success, accounting for two of their three scores.
As the offense gets closer to the end zone, the defense gains the advantage of having less ground to defend. Although they may not have to worry about the deep ball, getting into an empty formation forces the defense to defend the entire width of the field. This creates the opportunity to find gaps in the coverage.
Of course, the defining feature of any great offense is great players.
Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase were phenomenal in their homecoming. Burrow threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, adding one more touchdown on the ground. Chase accounted for 132 of those yards and two of the touchdown. The dynamic duo is back.
This play really exemplifies what a great player is. The Bengals are in quads (empty with four receivers to one side) with Chase alone on the back side. He has a nice release to get inside of the cornerback, but it is still tight coverage. He makes the catch and drags the defender to the first down marker. This was a huge play to convert on a third down late in the game.
Good players make the plays that they should make. Great players make the plays that no one expects them to make. Chase is special.
Despite a slow start, the Bengals’ offense seems to finally be clicking. Duo and RPOs should be a big part of what they do offensively moving forward. The empty formation and quick passing game will also play a pivotal role in the team’s success this year. Of course, it all comes down to finding the plays that allow your great players like Burrow, Chase, Boyd, and Tee Higgins to make plays.