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Thread: Bengals Offense

  1. #1

    Bengals Offense

    Bill Lazor's varied background sets up Cincinnati Bengals' offensive future

    Jim Owczarski, jowczarski@enquirer.comPublished 1:49 a.m. ET May 21, 2018

    Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton talks about offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and implementing a new system. Sam Greene,

    (Photo: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer)

    Bill Lazor stood alone in an empty locker room.

    The Cincinnati Bengals were two days removed from a season-ending 27-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, but a 7-9 season. He just endured a
    lengthy press conference that introduced him as the team’s offensive coordinator, but the focus was on head coach Marvin Lewis.

    Lazor sat to Lewis’ left and fielded seven questions. He smiled. He quipped. He exuded confidence. He wasn't really pressed for his plans for the
    offense, though.

    Afterward, Lazor looked over the deserted orange and black work space. There is comfort there.

    He would remain in Cincinnati for his third season with the promise of a fourth in 2019, which would match the longest he had been in any one spot
    since leaving Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, to begin his coaching odyssey in 2001. The wandering of a coach never truly ceases, the tests
    never over. Yet, at 45 years old and seven states and some 9,500 miles traveled later, Lazor has perhaps found some semblance of home once

    “I’m probably different now than I was five, certainly 10 years ago in my career,” he admitted. “In that, 15 years ago, you’re trying to get to the next big
    thing. Become this level coach. Or if you ever make it to the NFL. Now, I’ve done a lot of those things. What’s really important now is who am I with
    and the opportunity to win. Because I can always go up and down and in and out of all these different organizations but at some point, you want your
    legacy in coaching to be winning a championship.

    “And because we’re all human, and life’s short, you want to do it with people you enjoy being with. So to me, who are you doing it with and do you have a chance to win? I very quickly in a couple days decided that yes, I can do that here, get both those things checked off here.”

    A football mind

    Lazor smiles at the memory. He can, now.

    It was early in the 1991 season for Cornell University, and head coach Jim Hofher pulled his sophomore quarterback over on the sideline.

    If you don’t score a touchdown on this drive you’re out of the game.

    The 19-year-old wasn’t thrilled. But he did lead the Big Red to the end zone.

    “Maybe, he found a way – and again I thought it was unfair and I was pissed – but maybe that got me to play better,” Lazor said, allowing himself a laugh. “I have never used that exact statement to anyone. But it’s just an example of OK, sometimes as a coach and as a teacher you’ve got to find a way to get to them.”

    Lazor would grow from there into an all-time great for the Ivy League institution, breaking 26 offensive records. He was inducted into the school’s hall of fame in 2012.

    That success, however, wasn’t leading to a professional career. Or Wall Street. No, the human development and family studies degree and a love of
    competition steered Lazor to the sidelines next to his head coach after he graduated in 1994. It was the first step in a coaching journey that would
    send him from one end of the country to the other over the next 15 years.

    And that early example from Hofher’s, that a coach could make his quarterback uncomfortable yet get him to rise to a challenge, would prove to be a
    valuable lesson for Lazor. A quarter-century later, it's part of Lazor's stated plan for Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton this season – one of the few
    early messages Lazor sent in that January press conference.

    Lazor's multifarious coaching background has gotten him more than ready to impart such lessons.

    When Hofher moved on to coach the University of Buffalo in 1997, Lazor remained at Cornell under new head coach Pete Mangurian. But in 2001
    Hofher hired Lazor again – this time as youngest offensive coordinator in Division I at 29-years-old.

    While Lazor was calling plays in Amherst, New York, Mangurian was recommending him to Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Reeves to fill an
    offensive quality control position. That job pulled Lazor to the NFL in 2003 and he immediately impressed.

    “He was just a bright a guy as I’ve ever been around offensively,” Reeves said.

    Another coach on that staff, Rennie Simmons, then recommended Lazor to Joe Gibbs. Off to Washington from 2004-07. Then, he joined Mike
    Holmgren and Seattle from 2008-09. Then off to the University of Virginia from 2010-12. Chip Kelly pulled Lazor back to the NFL in 2013 to coach the
    quarterbacks in Philadelphia.

    “His experiences are rare,” Gibbs said. “Somebody that’s totally committed to his profession, willing to move to all the different places he’s been and
    take his family.”

    Such experience and flexibility led Lazor to Miami head coach Joe Philbin, who was looking for a new offensive coordinator for the Dolphins in 2014.

    “Adaptability, flexibility, he had creativity. He definitely possesses a lot of those characteristics,” Philbin said. “He had been exposed to a lot.”

    It would be Lazor’s first shot at play-calling in the NFL, and it was impressive in the context of the career-best seasons of quarterback Ryan
    Tanenehill, running back Lamar Miller and wide receiver Jarvis Landry.

    “It was fun to really watch him work and how aggressive he was as play caller and see it all come together for him,” said Zac Taylor, the former
    University of Cincinnati offensive coordinator who was Lazor’s quarterbacks coach in Miami.

    “He’s able to adapt to what you have on offense. I think that’s kind of where his creativity comes to light.”

    That offseason, something else clicked for Lazor.

    While enjoying time with his son Nolan and watching the Super Bowl between New England and Seattle, Lazor was a bit … uncomfortable.

    “The frustration of sitting home,” he said. “During it just thinking; I’m not going to feel satisfied until that’s us.”

    That year, however, the Dolphins couldn’t build on their 8-8 campaign. A 1-3 start led to Philbin’s firing on Oct. 5, 2015. On Nov. 30, Lazor was also

    For the first time since … who knows when … a season was drawing to a close and Lazor was sitting home.

    “When you’re young in coaching and you’re looking at what is bigger or what is better,” Lazor admitted. “That’s just, like most people, I think that’s
    human nature, right? That’s ambition.

    “At some point, I think, you just get the perspective. Maybe you’ve reached the coordinator job or you’ve done it in the NFL and what looked like the
    shiny red apple that was out there to go after, you’ve seen it enough times to know there’s problems everywhere and there’s issues everywhere.”

    A steady hand

    Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis liked Bill Lazor's (left) ability to adapt his offense. (Photo: Sam Greene)

    On Sept. 15, 2017, Lazor was thrust into a precarious situation.

    Thrust into the offensive coordinator position after two straight losses and zero touchdowns amidst a locker room in disarray – everyone finds out
    quickly exactly who you are and what you can do.

    “Everybody’s looking at you,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “And you’ve got to come out of it and have a new course of action and it’s got
    to be immediate and it’s got to be direct and effective. I think he proved that to people through that. He didn’t hang his head. We had to get going, and
    we did.”

    First, Lazor had to get the offense to score points. He then had to get Andy Dalton on track and do it with a deteriorating offensive line, injured and
    unhappy wide receivers and a carousel at running back.

    “What you saw last year was a steady hand on the wheel,” said Hofher, now an offensive analyst and assistant to the head coach at Iowa State.

    Lewis agreed, which is why he wasted no time in retaining Lazor once the head coach re-signed in January.

    “His ability to adjust within the players, injuries and all that – that’s really important,” Lewis said. “A lot of people can’t do that. Sometimes people just
    want to throw their hands up in the air as opposed to already be working on the solution ... it shows a lot of character in people to deal with that.”

    An offense outside of the box

    Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor
    should have a varied offense in 2018. (Photo: Sam Greene)

    Organized team activities start this week and mark the first time the Bengals are completely together on the field in 2018. After 14 games of working
    within the framework of a different playbook a year ago, this is now Lazor’s offense.

    But what, exactly, is that?

    “I think it would be wrong to say it,” he said. “It’s hard for me even to say it.”

    It’s natural to look back, however, for clues. Yet Lazor waves off any idea that one could turn on Dolphins film – or even the end of the 2017 Bengals
    season – and assume anything about what his offense will look like this year. All you can glean from his varied background is an outline that Lazor
    will fill in specifically with his 2018 roster.

    “Some of the greatest influences aren’t going to be the plays or formations,” Lazor said. “It’s going to be more the overall framework, the mindset.
    That’s a system of offense. A system is how you communicate. Is how you teach it. How you install it. How you get the quarterback and receivers on
    exactly the same page for what adjustments need to be made. It’s how the center makes the calls. That’s what a system is.”

    Philbin believes Lazor is already ahead of where he was in Miami because he has worked with these players. And frankly, he has to be. The Bengals
    were last in the NFL in offense in 2017, 31st in rushing, 27th in passing and 26th in scoring.

    “We’ve got some stats that were really bad,” Lazor said. “If you just stay with everyone comfortable, how are you going to change those things?
    There’s got to be some change. There’s got to be.”

    As for what that change is – you’ll have to wait for that answer. Just don’t assume it’s going to fit neatly in a box.

    “I don’t know that I would describe him in one particular way,” Philbin said. “I think he’s got an innovative, flexible approach to throwing the football, to
    running the football. He’s got a very, very vast knowledge of the game and I think he’s going to tailor all those experiences and do the things he feels
    like the players can do best.”

    Lazor is purposefully vague when pressed on what he’ll run.

    You’ll know it when you see it, basically. It’s perhaps the greatest lesson he took from the men he learned offense under.

    “Maybe they didn’t put it in words, like some snappy catch phrase, but you knew they knew what it’s supposed to be looking like,” Lazor said. “Each of
    them could stand on the practice field, each of those guys, or watch the practice film and tell you this is off, this isn’t right, and kind of keep guiding
    the vision. That’s probably the one common theme.”

    The locker room inside Paul Brown Stadium is bustling now.

    Ninety-one men are housed close together, digesting a new playbook, learning one another and a new coaching staff. It’s loud, lively. But there’s a
    seriousness behind it.

    “You just have to keep in mind the ultimate goal is to be the Super Bowl champs,” Lazor said, once again noting the emptiness caused by watching others hoist the Lombardi Trophy the last three seasons. “So we need an offense that’s worthy of that. And that might mean doing some
    uncomfortable things."

    His vision must become tangible in the form of yards, points and victories. It’s not a sexy process. He calls it a grind, but he loves the competition.
    And it takes time. Yet come Sept. 9 at Indianapolis, there is no time but the present – a present with an eye on February.

    “We might need to change some things," he said. "Even though something got us to five straight playoffs, if it was preventing us from going further,
    maybe there’s something that can get us a little further. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to let go what has gotten you so far, because it is pretty good,
    but we‘ve got to make sure pretty good isn’t good enough.”

  2. #2
    Offense feels the urgency

    Posted 11 hours ago

    John Ross looked smooth Tuesday.

    There is plenty of time to get to the defense.

    But, let’s face it. The bulk of this offseason has been about reviving the worst offense in the land and on Tuesday head coach Marvin Lewis offered a
    limited but anticipated first glance during a session that began what is expected to be nine voluntary practices before mid-June’s mandatory

    Lewis prohibited reporters from saying where his players lined up as offense met the defense for the first time this year, but given the practice went off
    pretty smoothly despite a new playbook it was pretty clear they were already fairly comfortable where offensive coordinator Bill Lazor put them.

    Andy Dalton
    and the quarterbacks got the ball out fast and the receivers were there to respond for the most part. Naturally, Dalton hit 2011 soulmate
    wide receiver A.J. Green deep a few times, but this is the spring and summer of getting Green and Dalton help.

    “We got the ball out quick and on time,” Dalton said, “and for a first day, that’s what you want.”

    And the Bengals weren't even working on tempo. That will come later. But the urgency that Lazor has instilled in the last five weeks has made the
    offense quick enough that some were observing it was the quickest the offense has looked since Hue Jackson ran it from 2014-2015.

    Much has been made of the youth of this club, but the relative smoothness of the offense’s debut is a reminder Dalton in his eighth season. Not only
    that, new backup is Matt Barkley in his sixth season. Lazor is on his second team as a coordinator. New quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt is in his
    13th NFL season and Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers is still miffed he left Green Bay in January. New receivers coach Bob Bicknell has coached three
    different 1,000-yard receivers in the league.

    Of course, there were moments. Dalton had routes jumped by two cornerbacks, veteran Dre Kirkpatrick and rookie Darius Phillips. But other than that

    “I think we’re headed in the right direction,” Barkley said. “A pretty good first day.”

    And there was something old (tight end Tyler Eifert) and something new (wide receiver John Ross) bouncing about on Tuesday that reflected their
    efforts to unite their weapons in a marriage of points.

    Plus, new O-line authoritarian Frank Pollack has decreed everyone on his beleaguered unit has a clean slate and on Tuesday he offered the much-
    maligned Cedric Ogbuehi as proof playing both tackle spots while planning to also put him at guard down the road. But that slate needs to include
    versatility and Pollack vowed that everyone would switch sides on Wednesday.

    “The speed at which we practiced in the first phases really helped us,” Eifert said. “We were running a lot in the first two phases and it was good to
    see there was not a lot of mental errors.”

    Just to see Eifert in what they like to call a Phase Three of the off-season workouts is a breath of fresh air. It’s believed to be the first time since his
    rookie season of five years ago he’s romping around in 11-on-11. He agrees. It’s the best he’s felt since he tore tendons in his ankle in the Pro Bowl
    after the 2015 season.

    New defensive coordinator Teryl Austin urges on his six-time Pro Bowl tackle Geno Atkins.

    Although Lazor has built a different offense than the one that gave him 13 touchdown catches that season, Eifert doesn’t see an enormous difference.
    Except for how the plays are called and that the running game is different with the same plays blocked with different technique.

    But Eifert sees what everybody else sees and probably better. Pollack has changed the culture up front and since Eifert’s brother-in-law is Cowboys
    guard Zack Martin with three Pro Bowls under Pollack in Dallas, he had a sneak preview.

    “(Martin is) a big fan,” Eifert said. “With his success in Dallas you can see he knows what he’s talking about. He brings an energy. He’s hard-nosed,
    he’s got a gritty attitude. That’s what he passes on to the players. He’s tough on the guys, but the guys respect him.”

    That’s exactly what Lewis sought as he attempted to re-build a unit that yielded the worst rushing season in franchise history. There had been
    whispers from among even their own coaches the previous two seasons that the line had been “soft,” the kiss of death for any line.

    But Pollack, who started six games during eight seasons with the 49ers, is anything but.

    “We’re not here playing chess, I know that,” Pollack said after practice. “The last time I checked its football and you have to kick the guy’s ass who’s
    across from you. Nothing’s changed … I don’t care what we do with the rules … at the end of the day it’s a physical, violent game and you have to be
    mentally tough. I can get a lot of drunk fraternity guys to start fights, but that’s not football, that’s mentally weak.”

    Lewis is seeing why he and Lazor didn’t want Pollack getting out of the building back in January when he came in for an interview.

    “He’s a very aggressive, physical person,” Lewis said. “He’s an excellent teacher, He’s very detailed. Every single step, every single movement has
    been broken down piece, piece, piece, piece, piece, piece.”

    Ross, another much-maligned young player who also seems to be getting a clean slate, is another guy that doesn’t see a whole lot of difference in
    the offensive scheme. But there is something clearly different with him.

    “Confident,” Kirkpatrick said. “He looks a lot more confident.”

    Ross looked relieved, if not exhausted. The 2017 first-round pick who only caught flak last season (he didn’t have a line but a rhombus with 17 snaps,
    two targets, one fumble, no catches) caught a little bit of everything Tuesday. Some balls over the middle. A swing pass on the edge. A deep ball
    where he made a nice adjustment, contorted his body to come back to the pass, and caught it before he kept going.

    “It’s my first (OTA), so I really didn’t know what to expect,” Ross said. “It’s a real big workload. I thought it was going to be like the workouts we had
    the last couple of weeks, but it was a lot of harder than that. It was good. You can always do better. I’ll watch the film tonight.”

    Last year he was famous for a fumble on his first NFL carry. On Tuesday, it looked like he caught everything. But a high pass in one-on-one. Maybe it
    was too high. But when he leaped, he touched it.

    “That’s on me. I touched it,” Ross said. “I should have had it. That drop hurt me bad.”

    But on a first day that was pretty good, that was OK.

  3. #3
    Cincinnati Bengals' Frank Pollack debuts new-look offensive line

    Paul Dehner Jr., pdehnerjr@enquirer.comPublished 1:09 p.m. ET May 23, 2018 | Updated 1:22 p.m. ET May 23, 2018

    A collection of Bengals first-round pick Billy Price's best quotes from his introductory press conference Kareem Elgazzar,

    (Photo: Sam Greene)

    The new era of offensive line play for the Bengals officially kicked off Tuesday. For the first time new coach Frank Pollack sent his group on the field in a real practice with the beginning of OTAs.

    This marked the official launch of Pollack’s overhauled scheme as he takes the place of former longtime offensive line coach Paul Alexander, who swapped spots and is now in Pollack’s old position with the Cowboys.

    Film, playbook and walkthrough work are one thing. Hitting the practice field is another.

    “I think we all were a little curious how it was going to go,” offensive lineman Christian Westerman said. “We are moving guys and running. Aggressive, smashmouth football.”

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    Mouths aren’t allowed to be smashed this time of year, however. Restrictions of OTAs via the collective-bargaining agreement state just that. What Pollack unveiled involved tempo and activity, not just in churning plays, but in how he’ll teach.

    In the bigger picture, this was the first day of school for the biggest reconstruction of the coaching staff since Marvin Lewis’ arrival. None with more eyes on them than Pollack, who takes over the group most responsible and scapegoated for the problems of the past two seasons.

    “I told them Day 1 everyone here has a clean slate,” Pollack said. “What you have done in the past is really irrelevant to me … You can go from the penthouse to outhouse real quick. Hopefully, you go from the outhouse to penthouse just as fast, but it takes a lot of work.”

    No matter if it's a rookie like first-round pick Billy Price, a free-agent signing in tackle Bobby Hart or the most tenured Bengals lineman in Clint Boling, everyone was curious how this would unfold.

    “The system is different and at the same time a lot of the drills and techniques and things we are learning are a lot different,” Boling said. “It doesn’t matter if you have been here and played before or are new guy, everybody is learning together.”

    And now they’ll begin learning who earns the starting jobs. Barring injury, two spots are open, both right guard and right tackle. New left tackle Cordy Glenn, left guard Boling and center Price should hold down the other three.

    There would be no grand pronouncement of the starting five with this reconstructed group this week. Well, five linemen did put a hand in the ground on the first play of practice, but outside of the fact some five players had to be out there, Pollack assured everyone, where they stood on the first play of the practice meant jack squat in the big picture (which is good news, since they don’t allow media to report formations or starters).

    Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Bobby Hart (68) lines up before the snap during the first day of OTAs at the Cincinnati Bengals practice facility in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (Photo: Sam Greene)

    “Pollack made it very clear,” last year’s starting right guard Trey Hopkins said, “this is just where you are starting. This is just how we are lining up today. It does not matter. He’s been very explicit about that sort of thing. Don’t cut yourself and don’t also feel like you are the starter.”
    He also plans to move nearly everybody from day to day. Pollack said non-established starters will show up one day and learn they are flipping to the opposite side from which they played the day before. Cross-training and capitalizing on versatility were served up as cornerstones of his gameplan.

    Cedric Ogbuehi will play both tackle spots and Pollack plans to give him work at guardlater in OTAs. T.J. Johnson will work at both guard and center. Same for Hopkins. Alex Redmond and Christian Westerman will flop side to side.

    “Everyone learns when they come in this league you only dress seven guys on gameday usually so you have to play multiple spots because you have to back up five positions,” Pollack said. “Sometimes your backup center might be one of them starting guards. You have to play more than one spot and you have to crosstrain. I have heard horror stories of guys losing four or five centers. And they are down to that sixth center and it’s tough sledding. You can never have enough so you are always training and moving guys around.”

    Players say they are picking things up partly because the ease of learning and focus on running fast and hitting hard above all else.

    Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) runs with the ball during the first day of OTAs at the Cincinnati Bengals practice facility in downtown Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 22, 2018. (Photo: Sam Greene)

    “I’ve been in the other system for four years,” Houston-native Hopkins said, “I’m not saying I have his stuff down yet, but his stuff feels a little bit more natural. It feels like old, high school Texas football type of thing compared to some of the other techniques. You are going downhill, hitting guys and getting on guys. It’s that kind of tempo.”

    Going downhill in shorts on the first day of practice won’t be when the most open position battles on the team with the most significant ramifications get settled. The groundwork and foundation was set, but until the pads come on in training camp we don’t quite know who will sink or swim in this new pool.

    “You don’t want to be too rash to make judgments because you still don’t have the big-boy pads on, we are still in our underwear,” Pollack said. “You put the pads on, you see a bunch of guys go over here and a bunch of guys go over there. Hopefully we have more guys going over there, right?
    That’s the challenge. You want guys who can move and think and play fast and process quickly, but at the end of the day it’s a violent, physical game. You have to put the pads on and kick the guy across from you’s ass, and you can’t know that until you put the pads on.”

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I've sort of been laser focused on FC Cincinnati since January. Are we excited for Lazor with a full off season? I thought he was better than Zampese, but that no one was going to rock with our line... So I've mostly kept offensive thoughts to piecing together a good line. Pondering the potency of anything after that has been lost on me.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by mongo View Post
    I've sort of been laser focused on FC Cincinnati since January. Are we excited for Lazor with a full off season? I thought he was better than Zampese, but that no one was going to rock with our line... So I've mostly kept offensive thoughts to piecing together a good line. Pondering the potency of anything after that has been lost on me.

    I'm indifferent on Lazor. My trust is in the talent on the roster.

  6. #6
    I don't think Lazor is going to be some kind of offensive genius or bring an new kind of innovation to our offense. I don't think Miami fans miss him.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Bengals1181 View Post
    I'm indifferent on Lazor. My trust is in the talent on the roster.
    IMO they have two elite players, Eifert and Green, to build their passing game around. That's more than most teams have. But the lack of a true #2 WR doomed them last season and probably will again. To take the next step forward the Bengals need Ross and Malone to take snaps away from LaFell., especially outside the numbers. Neither seemed ready to challenge last year. Making matters worse, they should be thriving at the slot but after Boyd regressed it's become a muddled mess. Fixing the slot is probably Job#1 for Lasor. Finding a role for Ross and Malone is Job#2.

    Too early to guess about the Oline or the running game, but I still think the trick to building a running game is by throwing to the backs. Bengals have been busy selling the bell cow narrative but after adding Walton they're now three deep in air-backs. That's no coincidence. Nor is a smaller Joe Mixon. As Lapham preached last don't run into a stacked front using zone blocking. You throw the ball to your backs until the defense changes coverage. More slash and burn than ground and pound.

  8. #8
    I’m optimistic that with his work with TJ, Ross is going to have a great year.

  9. #9
    Bengals left guard Clint Boling was phenomenal when he wasn‘t having to account for the issues on both side of him. He was really the only guy you could rely on upfront, game in and game out. That was true enough that Pro Football Focus ranked him as the fourth best pass blocking guard last season.
    Boling, though he finished the season at left tackle due to injuries, has been best suited for the guard position, as evidenced by his 98.0 pass-blocking efficiency across his 474 pass-block snaps at left guard in 2017.
    A fourth-round pick in 2011, Boling has played at least 788 offensive snaps in each of his past six seasons with Cincinnati, earning 73.0-plus grades in all of them. His 2017 campaign, however, was easily his best in terms of pass protection as it was the first time he had eclipsed a pass-blocking efficiency above 97.3 in his career.
    Boling will return to his natural position of left guard in 2018 in hopes of repeating his career year alongside new left tackle Cordy Glenn,


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