Bengals OC says offense not playing to standard
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals know the sobering reality of their offensive production.
Through six games, it simply isn’t good enough for a team hoping to make another deep postseason run. Even after a 17-13 win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, the Bengals are near the bottom of many major offensive categories. Cincinnati is 29th in the NFL in yards per play and points per drive.
In a team meeting Monday, Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan was blunt about the lack of production.
“We have to be better than we’ve been,” Callahan said in a news conference Monday afternoon. “And I think we will be. But sometimes there’s a time and a place to tell the truth. And that’s the truth at this point.”
After scoring touchdowns on their first two drives against Seattle, the Bengals failed to score another touchdown the rest of the game. Quarterback Joe Burrow, whose health has improved after he dealt with a strained calf, cooled down following a hot start. He was 8-of-15 passing for 110 yards and an interception in the second half of the win and was disappointed following the victory.
“We were horrible in the second half,” Burrow said. “We just have to be able to put together a complete game.”
Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor, who is also the team’s offensive play caller, said it was “clear as day” that the Bengals needed to score more points. The fifth-year coach said he is evaluating offensive aspects from scheme to tendencies to the variation in plays.
“Whether it’s explosive passes, explosive runs, more runs, less runs, more passes — it doesn’t matter,” Taylor said. “We just have to get the ball in the end zone.”
Callahan’s frustration was palpable in his weekly news conference with local reporters.
“There’s an accountability factor, where nobody — coaching, playing — has met our standard,” Callahan said. “And our standard’s high. And it should be because we’re capable of being really good. And thus far, we haven’t been.
“There’s been a lot of reasons for that. Ultimately, nobody cares.”
Among the changes Cincinnati could explore is running the offense more from under center now that Burrow’s calf is healthier. The Bengals have run the third-most plays from shotgun and the second-fewest from under center, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Any changes must yield a more productive offense.
Callahan said everyone had their “moment in the barrel” and everyone is aware of what needs to be corrected when Cincinnati’s season resumes in Week 8 against the San Francisco 49ers.
Last season, the Bengals were fifth in the NFL in touchdowns per drive. This season, they are 29th in that category despite returning nine offensive starters. Callahan is confident the offense can play up to its potential.
He said the mental break and a week off could be what Cincinnati needs to get the offense on track.
“Sometimes when you play poorly, you just take a minute and reflect and get away and relax for a second and come back with a clear vision of what it needs to look like moving forward,” Callahan said. “And I think we will.”