For all the criticism he’s received over the years, Zac Taylor has also shown the ability to evolve.
The Cincinnati Bengals ran for 156 yards on 31 carries, or 5.0 yards per attempt, against the Jacksonville Jaguars last Monday night. Chase Brown had a gaudy 6.8 yards per attempt with 61 yards on just nine carries.
Joe Mixon, meanwhile, was the goal line and short yardage specialist, with two touchdowns and 68 yards on 19 attempts.
So what did Taylor change schematically to get the rushing attack back on track?
A to Z Sports’ John Sheeran explained:
They started calling more zone plays and plays that had them going horizontally. They combined that with a lot of rolling pockets, sprintouts, play action, bootlegs, where you just have horizontal movement from the offensive line in general, when you have both of those kind of working off of each other. It doesn’t matter if you first “establish the run” or come out swinging with playaction or just passing in general. Once you get that movement established in the defense’s mind, and they have to read their keys a little bit differently, they got to take extra steps to get to the side. That created more opportunities and holes for the offensive line.
The next factor, of course, was Brown, who finally got his chance and ran with it (no pun intended). Sheeran said:
Chase Brown doesn’t really waste any time. He just accelerates through the hole, and once you have him in a one-on-one situation with the linebacker or quarterback, he’s got the speed and elusiveness and even some strength in him to kind of force the missed tackles. He only had nine carries in this game, but he forced three missed tackles and had a long of 31 yards.
The last piece of the puzzle was Joe Mixon fitting right in as the thunder to Brown’s lightning. Here’s why Sheeran thinks the two compliment each other so well:
Brown is the perfect compliment to a bruiser, which is what Joe Mixon is now. That’s why [Mixon] had those two touchdowns at the goal line; he can power through contact a lot better than maybe he used to, and he doesn’t really have that elusiveness in space that Chase Brown does. So they compliment each other very well now, and I think the combination of just horizontal movement from the offensive line both in pass protection and some of these run calls definitely facilitated that.
Watch the entire analysis below:
You can also listen on iTunes or using the player below: