Five stats

Posted Jul 9, 2013

Looking for the Bengals to take that next step from 9-7 and 10-6? The Great Leap Forward may be steeped in these five stats in all three phases that can put them over the top.

Giovani Bernard

Looking for the Bengals to take that next step from 9-7 and 10-6?

The Great Leap Forward may be steeped in these five stats in all three phases that can put them over the top.


The Bengals were 27th in the NFL at converting third downs (34 percent) and they were worse in the six AFC North games on 25 of 82 for 30 percent.

But offensive coordinator Jay Gruden emerged from the draft with two third-down weapons in receiving tight end Tyler Eifert and pass-catching running back Giovani Bernard.

The more should be the merrier. Quarterback Andy Dalton already feels comfortable enough on third down with the incumbent tight end that Jermaine Gresham led the Bengals with 21 third-down catches, tied for ninth in the AFC.

But Dalton's two third-down backs, Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman, combined for just four third-down catches, all by Leonard. And the starting back, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, had none on third down. Meanwhile, Ray Rice of the Ravens and Ronnie Brown of the Chargers led AFC backs with 19 catches on third down.

No one is banking on Bernard catching 61 balls like Rice. But since Kenny Watson caught 52 in 2007, no Bengals back has caught more than 30 passes. Bernard figures to change that some.


Just too many for a team that believes it can win it all. The Bengals finished 25th in giving up sacks per pass and gave more than lip service to the time-honored coaching cliché, "Sacks aren't just on the offensive line, but the quarterback, the receivers and the backs."

How else to explain that Pro Football Focus ranked the Bengals the NFL's second-best pass-blocking team? Left tackle Andrew Whitworth graded highest of all the tackles in the PFF pass-blocking rankings and rookie right guard Kevin Zeitler finished eighth among guards. Right tackle Andre Smith and left guard Clint Boling each finished 19th and in the upper third at their positions.

That bit of analysis suggests the Bengals have the stuff up front but need more coordination in the pass game ranging from the pocket to the trenches to the routes. Will another year of experience for the young wide receivers make them more familiar with their hot reads? As Dalton progresses into Year 3, won't his decision-making be quicker to help cut down on sacks? Will a change-of-pace back like Bernard help prevent pass rushers from teeing off?

Here's one of those areas the Bengals hope they can reap the benefits of their kids being in the same system as they head into their third season under Gruden.     


Not bad. At No. 15, the Bengals were in the upper half of the NFL. But it was the lowest ranking in any category for a defense that enjoyed its second straight top 7 finish.

When they got them, it sure made things so much easier. The Bengals didn't get a two-pick game until Nov. 4 when cornerback Terence Newman intercepted Peyton Manning in the end zone to give the Bengals a fourth-quarter shot against Denver, and their two picks the next week helped spring the win over Eli Manning's Super Bowl-champion Giants. Cornerback Leon Hall didn't have a pick until Dec. 13, but his 44-yard return woke the Bengals out of a frightful abyss in Philly before his two interception returns marked the only TDs in Cincinnati's two elimination games later in the season.

Does it matter? Of the top five teams in interceptions last year, four didn't make the playoffs.

But does it matter? The Bengals were 7-4 when they had at least one pick (4-1 on the road) and 2-1 with multiple interceptions.  

And they'll be looking to replace the three lost with the departure of safety Chris Crocker, along with Reggie Nelson, the team's co-leader.


The Bengals are on the right track with The Law Firm after their most since 2006. But it's not a number that matches up with the elite offenses, except for the dozen posted by the fourth-ranked Broncos and the 10 by the second-ranked Saints. But you can do that when your quarterbacks are Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, respectively.

The top-ranked Patriots scheme helped out Tom Brady with 25 rushing TDs, RGIII dashed fifth-ranked Washington to 22 and the third-ranked Lions ran for 17 TDs. It is the answer to every red zone woe, where the Bengals finished 16th.

The Final Four consisted of the Ravens (17 rushing TDs) vs. the Pats and the 49ers (17) vs. the Falcons. The Bengals haven't had 17 rushing TDs in a season since the '97 club put up 23. The average rushing TDs for the NFL's top 10 offenses last season?



If you want to call it a blemish, it is the only one on a sterling 2012 for the Bengals special teams. Add up their league rankings in the kicking game's 10 major categories and their number of 115 led the NFL in an effort spurred by Kevin Huber's best season ever by a Bengals punter and coordinator Darrin Simmons's seemingly endless supply of cover players.

Cincinnati's 19th ranking returning kickoffs and 20th ranking covering them were the club's lowest finishes, and the Bengals still finished 15th in the NFL when it came to the opponents average drive start. But Cincinnati's average was doomed by its worst play of the season, Denver wide receiver Trindon Holliday's 105-yard kick return that opened the second half and put the Bengals in a 17-3 hole that was just too big to extract themselves.

On the other side, Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate finished a competent 13th in NFL kick returns, but nothing longer than 45 yards. Tate's reliability at returning both kicks and punts makes him tough to beat out, but the Bengals could use some Holliday-like fireworks. As the Broncos found out in a 31-23 game, it was enough for a win.

It's worth noting that the Super Bowl-champion Ravens led the league in kick return average and two others in the top five (No. 2 Seattle and No. 5 Minnesota), made the playoffs.


Recent Articles

  • Last call

    By Geoff Hobson - Posted 7 hours ago

    The Bengals face roster cutdown this week, one to 75 on Tuesday and the final cut on Saturday. Here is a look.

  • Having a ball

    By Geoff Hobson - Posted Aug 30, 2015

    There may be no periods in AJ McCarron’s first name, but he supplied Saturday night's exclamation points. The poise and enthusiasm the Bengals have raved about all preseason were all on display in a 21-10 pre-season win over the Bears. His 31-yard TD pass to Marvin Jones marked his first as a pro.

    Views: 6,119
  • Bengals eye opener after crisp close out of Bears

    By Geoff Hobson - Posted Aug 29, 2015

    The next time we see them, they’ll be in the Black Hole in Oakland. And the Bengals’ first teamers dug themselves out of Monday night’s black hole in Tampa with a thorough exhibition on both sides of the ball in Saturday night’s 21-10 pre-season victory over the Bears at Paul Brown Stadium. "This is the team we think we are," said Andrew Whitworth.

    Views: 6,317
  • Quick hits: Dalton sneaks by; Jones' gesture lifts McCarron; Whit pronounces Bengals ready

    By Geoff Hobson - Posted Aug 29, 2015

    Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said if it had been the regular season, he would have stayed in Saturday night’s game. But since it was the third pre-season game and his neck had just awkwardly turned under about two tons of humanity at the goal line on his fourth-and-one touchdown sneak, the Bengals gave him the rest of the night off in the 21-10 victory over the Bears.

    Views: 5,389
  • Dalton (OK), AJ (McCarron) lead Bengals over Bears

    By Geoff Hobson - Posted Aug 29, 2015

    Quarterback Andy Dalton suffered a neck injury Saturday night, apparently when he converted a fourth-and-one from the half-yard line to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead over the Bears with 4:17 left in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium on the way to Cincinnati’s 21-10 victory.

    Views: 14,858

Recent Videos