Lazor Looks To Jump Start Offense

Posted Sep 21, 2017

The Bengals' new offensive coordinator will draw on lessons learned from a wide variety of coaching mentors.

So what changes is Bill Lazor planning to make to jump-start the Bengals offense this Sunday in his first game as coordinator?

He isn’t saying, nor should he. The Green Bay Packers will have to figure that out for themselves.

But my broadcast partner Dave Lapham has a suggestion.

“First and foremost simplify,” Lap told me. “I think their minds were blown with too much information in the first couple of weeks and they weren’t playing fast and free. Their minds were cluttered. So my thing is to simplify. Meet with your coaches, meet with your quarterback, meet with A.J. Green as well if you want to, and find out what everybody thinks they do best. Make a short list from the consensus opinion and that’s what you are – that’s your identity. Right now they don’t know what their identity is. Instead of having a thousand plays for everything, have a few plays that you can run against everything.”

Lazor agrees with the need to establish an identity on offense.

“I think you have to know, ‘What are we good at?’” said Lazor. “And ‘What can we be good at?’ And ‘What do we want to be good at?’ It starts with the players that you have.”

“We have very good players on offense and we have to make sure that we put them in position to make plays,” said head coach Marvin Lewis.

Lazor’s coaching mentors include three head coaches with a combined 10 Super Bowl appearances and the architect of one of the most explosive college offenses in history.

He learned vastly different lessons from each of them.

“I started with Dan Reeves in Atlanta and it was amazing to me that the night before the game Dan would take the coaching staff out to dinner,” said Lazor. “We would sit at dinner and never talk about the game. Coming from college I just didn’t realize how long the season was. And then on game day he was like a tiger. He was intense and he knew how to call plays. He really taught me a lot about leadership.

“Then Joe Gibbs with the Redskins has already been in the Hall of Fame when he came out of retirement. I was with Coach Gibbs for four years and I think if you added up the late nights that we worked it might have actually been six years. Mondays were the easy nights and he let us go at 2:00 am. But you talk about the determination to get the right people in the room, doing it the right way, and working until you got it done.

“Mike Holmgren, who I went to work after that (in Seattle), has been well-known for grooming a lot of the quarterback coaches that have gone on, so it was hard to turn down the opportunity to work for Mike. People always talk about the ‘West Coast Offense’ – you hear that term thrown around. Well, Coach Holmgren had worked for Bill Walsh and sometimes we went back to the old book to look at how they used to do it. So for him, ‘What is a West Coach Offense?’ It was a philosophy on how you taught the quarterback. And how he's supposed to play on game day. The decisiveness, the timing, the rhythm, and the quarterback understanding what the coach was trying to get accomplished when he called the play. That was really enlightening.    

“And the other guy in the NFL that had a very different impact on me was Chip Kelly with the offense he ran in Philadelphia. Chip was one of those guys that was probably different than my nature in that he would not be scared of running a play if the defense had blitzed the safety one or two times into that look. He would say, ‘How many times?’ and you might answer, ‘One.’ And he would say, ‘They won’t do it again,’ and he would run the play. It was such a freeing experience because I would go through games and games on film and say, ‘Oh they have this one look where you can’t run a certain play because they blitzed the safety that one time.’ What Chip did was make us very offensive on offense and made us attack the other team and try to do what we wanted to do and not pull back into a shell.”

After working for those four head coaches, Lazor served as offensive coordinator under Joe Philbin in Miami. In 2014, the Dolphins finished 11th in the NFL in scoring. But in 2015, Philbin was fired after a 1-3 start and Lazor was eventually fired as well by interim head coach Dan Campbell.

Now Lazor gets a second chance to put his stamp on an NFL offense and the cupboard in Cincinnati obviously isn’t bare.

“Doing it after the second week of the season is unique in a challenging way, but doing it with proven players is unique in a good way,” said Lazor. “We’ve got to make the most of it. It’s a long season and we have a ton of football ahead of us.

“Everyone should feel the responsibility for things not going well on offense – that’s the coaches and the players. We’ve got to be honest about that and face it and say, ‘Now what? Let’s get this thing going the way we wanted it to go.’ We had high hopes coming into the year and I think we still have them.”

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