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New Bengals Offense under Dan Pitcher


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The Athletic:

 

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ schematic expansion under new offensive coordinator Dan Pitcher was apparent throughout the offseason program. The shift to versatility and unpredictable usage was a recurring theme in every position group. All receivers worked inside and outside, tight end Mike Gesicki shifted all around the line of scrimmage and the running backs were far more active in the passing game. Joe Burrow discussed extra “eye candy” and being able to dictate more to defenses this season with new personnel groups and scheme tweaks. The collection of players capable of excelling in multiple areas — before truly dropping the ultimate versatile weapon of Ja’Marr Chase in — provides an exciting tool belt for Burrow. — Paul Dehner Jr.

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11 minutes ago, dex said:

The Athletic:

 

Cincinnati Bengals

The Bengals’ schematic expansion under new offensive coordinator Dan Pitcher was apparent throughout the offseason program. The shift to versatility and unpredictable usage was a recurring theme in every position group. All receivers worked inside and outside, tight end Mike Gesicki shifted all around the line of scrimmage and the running backs were far more active in the passing game. Joe Burrow discussed extra “eye candy” and being able to dictate more to defenses this season with new personnel groups and scheme tweaks. The collection of players capable of excelling in multiple areas — before truly dropping the ultimate versatile weapon of Ja’Marr Chase in — provides an exciting tool belt for Burrow. — Paul Dehner Jr.

I'm very excited to watch his play calling..

Good move on Zach to give him the reigns.

Have a good feeling  about his offensive tactics...

 

 

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In a new Hobson interview with the new OC, Dan Pitcher mentions six guys who could get some of the slot snaps that Boyd dominated last season. Pitcher mentioned Gesicki/Hudson as two of them, guessing that the other four are Chase/Burton/Irwin/Jones.

 

GH: Do you attack the slot by committee?

DP: Sure. I think we have six guys that we can put in there in any way shape or form that all do certain things in there well. That's our job now as coaches to put them in position to do things they do well and figure out how that works on a week-to-week basis. But yeah, I think there's a chance to see a number of different players in there.

GH: Some of them aren't receivers. Gesicki and Tanner can go in there.

DP: Absolutely. Those two guys are talented pass catchers and the thing that really stuck out this spring about those two players is how smart they both are, how they see the field and how they just have excellent feel. And that's anybody who's studied the game understands that's a key component to being a productive player in the slot because of all the moving pieces and all the bodies around you. You have to have excellent feel and both those guys have that.

GH: I would imagine a running back like Chase Brown can also do it.

DP: The slot is not like one thing. There are 50 things that guys do in the slot. Player X might be good at half of them. And player X might be good at a third of them. And so how do you formation it to get them there and ask them to do the things they're good at without tipping your hand to the defense? That's the challenge. I think we'll be able to do that and I think we'll do a really good job of it.

GH: Do you think rookie wide receiver Jermaine Burton can play in the slot?

DP: Sure. Again, there's no guy who is the perfect slot, mold him out of clay, does every single thing great in there. We'll have different people in there doing different things and all the guys you mentioned, absolutely have a chance to factor in that.

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2 hours ago, dex said:

In a new Hobson interview with the new OC, Dan Pitcher mentions six guys who could get some of the slot snaps that Boyd dominated last season. Pitcher mentioned Gesicki/Hudson as two of them, guessing that the other four are Chase/Burton/Irwin/Jones.

 

GH: Do you attack the slot by committee?

DP: Sure. I think we have six guys that we can put in there in any way shape or form that all do certain things in there well. That's our job now as coaches to put them in position to do things they do well and figure out how that works on a week-to-week basis. But yeah, I think there's a chance to see a number of different players in there.

GH: Some of them aren't receivers. Gesicki and Tanner can go in there.

DP: Absolutely. Those two guys are talented pass catchers and the thing that really stuck out this spring about those two players is how smart they both are, how they see the field and how they just have excellent feel. And that's anybody who's studied the game understands that's a key component to being a productive player in the slot because of all the moving pieces and all the bodies around you. You have to have excellent feel and both those guys have that.

GH: I would imagine a running back like Chase Brown can also do it.

DP: The slot is not like one thing. There are 50 things that guys do in the slot. Player X might be good at half of them. And player X might be good at a third of them. And so how do you formation it to get them there and ask them to do the things they're good at without tipping your hand to the defense? That's the challenge. I think we'll be able to do that and I think we'll do a really good job of it.

GH: Do you think rookie wide receiver Jermaine Burton can play in the slot?

DP: Sure. Again, there's no guy who is the perfect slot, mold him out of clay, does every single thing great in there. We'll have different people in there doing different things and all the guys you mentioned, absolutely have a chance to factor in that.

With the Skyscraper Oline and so many weapons at his disposal they could put 30 on the board in many games.

 

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Really believe the plan is for Burrow to go under center more on 1st and 2nd downs. Here Pitcher explains to Hobson why it's pointless to do it in obvious passing situations where the defense would disregard the run. 

 

GH: Will you change how much more you go under center?

 

DP: I'm giving you the same broken record answer that I've given you the whole time. It's impossible to predict. Totally context dependent.

First of all, there are certain situations where you just would never go under center. In a known passing down, it doesn't make any sense to go under center. Because you're artificially shallowing the drop depth and the ability to get the ball out, and you're creating more artificial push by starting the down five yards closer to it. When you know and everybody in the building knows that 98% of the time in this specific situation you're throwing the ball, that makes no sense to go under center.

Now, when you're talking about mixed downs when there's an equal threat of run and pass, there's a million factors that come into play. How hard of a run sell can you get from under center versus a shotgun when you're talking about play-action pass? How much of that trade-off is worth the fact that the quarterback has to turn his back to the defense and miss some time to evaluate and see what's happening in front of them? That's anytime you play-action fake from under center, and that's an element of it.

Everything costs you something. We figure out, what are we willing to pay? Are we going to get a good return on the investment? And we go from there. And the answers to that question change week to week, they change quarter to quarter, they change drive to drive. I can't say with certainty yes or no to that question, but it's going to be a part of our offense.

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i dunno whats been already said, i dunno if ive already posted in here, im too lazy to look at 4 pages of replies. but..

 

1. he isnt really handing over the keys, taylor took on a shitload of the OC duties to help Pitcher get onboarded and up to speed in the offseason, and is just handing those oc duties back. so taylor will be keeping his same envolvement as he always has. i think this was taken a little out of context.

 

2. the scheme and offense as it were, isnt the reason for any specific failings, run game, short yard, etc. talent is, the oline, especially LG, wasnt good, hving bad palyers run good plays isnt gonna work. lets hope that 3rd year charm is in the growth pattern for fucking volson. he stopped sucking as bad towards the end of last season. i am hopful. cause he has been shitty.

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1 hour ago, GoBengals said:

i dunno whats been already said, i dunno if ive already posted in here, im too lazy to look at 4 pages of replies. but..

 

1. he isnt really handing over the keys, taylor took on a shitload of the OC duties to help Pitcher get onboarded and up to speed in the offseason, and is just handing those oc duties back. so taylor will be keeping his same envolvement as he always has. i think this was taken a little out of context.

 

2. the scheme and offense as it were, isnt the reason for any specific failings, run game, short yard, etc. talent is, the oline, especially LG, wasnt good, hving bad palyers run good plays isnt gonna work. lets hope that 3rd year charm is in the growth pattern for fucking volson. he stopped sucking as bad towards the end of last season. i am hopful. cause he has been shitty.

 

Not a defense of Volson but why do you think all these good to solid FA OL guys have arrived to then have the worst rated seasons of their careers in this offense?

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19 hours ago, GoBengals said:

i dunno whats been already said, i dunno if ive already posted in here, im too lazy to look at 4 pages of replies. but..

 

1. he isnt really handing over the keys, taylor took on a shitload of the OC duties to help Pitcher get onboarded and up to speed in the offseason, and is just handing those oc duties back. so taylor will be keeping his same envolvement as he always has. i think this was taken a little out of context.

 

2. the scheme and offense as it were, isnt the reason for any specific failings, run game, short yard, etc. talent is, the oline, especially LG, wasnt good, hving bad palyers run good plays isnt gonna work. lets hope that 3rd year charm is in the growth pattern for fucking volson. he stopped sucking as bad towards the end of last season. i am hopful. cause he has been shitty.

1. Some of the offensive position coaches disagree with your take. I heard Troy Walters say on a recent podcast that Taylor was planning to step back on the offense. Apparently Taylor has not only told the press that he would be taking on less responsibility, he has also told his coaching staff this too. Doesn't mean that Taylor plans to do less work overall this year, but simply to oversee the entire squad a little more evenly. I don't think anyone in the building was satisfied with the team's play last season. 

 

2. You mentioned that Volson improved toward the end of last year, but didn't tie that to the fact that they started using the QB more under center rather than working out of the shotgun almost exclusively. This was more the scheme Volson was used to in college so of course he was more comfortable with the new UC emphasis. Burrow is great out of the shotgun so of course they aren't going to abandon that completely. But they are planning to be more varied than ever before, with a new emphasis on explosive plays, which should put the entire OL in more favorable situations. This wouldn't necessarily make the OL better, just make their jobs easier.

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10 hours ago, dex said:

1. Some of the offensive position coaches disagree with your take. I heard Troy Walters say on a recent podcast that Taylor was planning to step back on the offense. Apparently Taylor has not only told the press that he would be taking on less responsibility, he has also told his coaching staff this too. Doesn't mean that Taylor plans to do less work overall this year, but simply to oversee the entire squad a little more evenly. I don't think anyone in the building was satisfied with the team's play last season. 

 

2. You mentioned that Volson improved toward the end of last year, but didn't tie that to the fact that they started using the QB more under center rather than working out of the shotgun almost exclusively. This was more the scheme Volson was used to in college so of course he was more comfortable with the new UC emphasis. Burrow is great out of the shotgun so of course they aren't going to abandon that completely. But they are planning to be more varied than ever before, with a new emphasis on explosive plays, which should put the entire OL in more favorable situations. This wouldn't necessarily make the OL better, which make their jobs easier.

 

 

#2 here is dead on. I will trust Volson when they are running from under center, not as much in shotgun

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Dan Pitcher recently mentioned having "six guys" who can take snaps in the slot. Now I'm wondering if one of them is Chase Brown. Of course Brown certainly didn't look like someone who could do that in his rookie season, but Paul Dehner's column in The Athletic makes it sound like a lot has changed very quickly.

 

We have already heard comments from Burrow, Taylor and other coaches about how much Brown's pass receiving skills have improved tremendously. Your first instinct is to discount those comments as just coach-speak, but Brown hired a highly regarded personal WR coach to teach him the art of route running and catching passes. RBs don't usually hire WR coaches to help them improve their receiving abilities, but that may change with the way young RBs like Jahmyr Gibbs/Bijan Robinson often line up in the slot to create mismatches. Brown's coach Drew Lieberman says that Brown now "looks like a starting slot receiver in the NFL." He actually provides before/after videos with Brown to document his startling improvement for doubters.

 

The Athletic:

 

 

Lieberman laughs at the side-by-side video now. The differences in speed, stride length, hands and breaks looked almost comical.

“The main thing is the technique of it, just running full stride,” Brown said. “Route running is an art. You see a lot of guys, the top-tier guys make it look easy, but there is a lot that goes into it, full stride, break points, hip shifts. There’s a ton of things that break down a good route runner.”

 

 

Play: Video

 

There are a ton of things Brown had never focused on and why Taylor emphasized the skill set. Brown led Bengals running backs in yards per reception (11.1) last year on 14 receptions, and getting him open in space and on the field more could open up the entire offense.

 

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I was pretty clear in the 2023 draft on how much I think J. Gibbs could transform this team. Even when Gio was here, I thought this team never really exploited the concept of the air back, to the degree that they could. IF Brown can fill this role, legitimately, I could be the piece that would have the greatest effect on taking this O to the next level. Put on top of that the possibility of a true receiver at TE (Giesecki), and possibly having non-terrible players at both tackle spots, and we might really be getting somewhere. 

 

Oh, and the addition by subtraction of replacing the worst contact RB in the league with, well, ANYBODY...

 

There's hope. 

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1 hour ago, alleycat said:

I was pretty clear in the 2023 draft on how much I think J. Gibbs could transform this team. Even when Gio was here, I thought this team never really exploited the concept of the air back, to the degree that they could. IF Brown can fill this role, legitimately, I could be the piece that would have the greatest effect on taking this O to the next level. Put on top of that the possibility of a true receiver at TE (Giesecki), and possibly having non-terrible players at both tackle spots, and we might really be getting somewhere. 

 

Oh, and the addition by subtraction of replacing the worst contact RB in the league with, well, ANYBODY...

 

There's hope. 

 

Gio absolutely could've done more if they fed him, no question. Another case of coaches trying to prove something with their very special unique schemes instead of using the tools they've been given?

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19 minutes ago, T-Dub said:

 

Gio absolutely could've done more if they fed him, no question. Another case of coaches trying to prove something with their very special unique schemes instead of using the tools they've been given?

 

Hey, Brat needed someone to run up the middle for 2 yards on second and 10, then catch the shovel pass in the backfield and fight for a 2 yard gain on 3rd and 8. 

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11 hours ago, sparky151 said:

 

Hey, Brat needed someone to run up the middle for 2 yards on second and 10, then catch the shovel pass in the backfield and fight for a 2 yard gain on 3rd and 8. 

 

adjusts bifocals

 

I was just about to say that! :26:

 

I sometimes wonder if Ol' Musty's Ivy League education is why he likes these coaches inclined to bring chess boards to a bar fight.

 

Go invent cold fusion or something ya fuckin nerds, we're going out back to hit each other with sticks. An NFL team has no use for intellectuals.

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Athletic on each team's non-quarterback MVP:

 

Cincinnati Bengals

Ja’Marr Chase, wide receiver

The re-calibration of Joe Burrow’s weapons didn’t just add versatility to the new pieces offensive coordinator Dan Pitcher can play with; they also augment the one he’s played with the longest. The position-less nature of the rest of the receiver and tight end group allows the Bengals to move Chase around more and dial up more explosive plays from different alignments. While his overall usage might not go up, the aggressiveness of his targets should and sets up for the three-time Pro Bowler and 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year to enjoy his best season yet. — Paul Dehner Jr.

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The Athletic on a fantasy breakout player for each team:

 

Cincinnati Bengals

TE Mike Gesicki

Joe Burrow churns out career years for tight ends like he fills news cycles. The latest entry is Gesicki, but unlike C.J. Uzomah, Hayden Hurst and Tanner Hudson before him, Gesicki brings a unique skill set capable of producing dozens of big plays. He’ll be used as a big slot and counted on to terrorize matchups against smaller nickel CBs or slower safeties. More importantly, he could finally give Burrow a tight end capable of regularly exploiting the intermediate-to-deep middle between Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase. Going for 700 yards and seven TDs is possible. — Paul Dehner Jr.

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Excerpt from The Athletic - Paul Dehner:

 

Opportunity abounds with play-action and pre-snap motion

An offensive tool Sharp explored in every team section revolved around their use of play-action and presnap motion. The growth of motion across the NFL has been undeniable in recent years, as has the spike in efficiency for teams that most often deploy it.

This topic has been explored with Zac Taylor and the Bengals before, but with a caveat that Burrow tends to prefer a static pre-snap setup, in much the same way Peyton Manning used to, because of his ability to dissect and process what’s in front of him so effectively.

New offensive coordinator Dan Pitcher and Taylor have hinted at the increase in motion and have added skill position players better suited to move around the formation to make it possible. Sharp’s breakdown of these numbers shows a heavier lean into both would benefit the Bengals.

Across the NFL, the breakdown of usage and success rate of plays involving motion and play-action showed a dramatic increase in success rate — a jump from 45 percent to 55 percent just with a play-action involved. When using play-action and motion versus no play-action or motion, teams’ success rates rose 12 percent. EPA/play increased 0.19, and passer rating jumped 17.2 points.

Those are significant differences, but consider the Bengals ran 325 plays with no motion or play-action against just 81 with both.

Compare that with Miami, which ran 125 plays with none and 163 with both. No one should expect Cincinnati to shift into Mike McDaniel’s motion-play-action bonanza, but increased use of those pre-snap tools could provide a needed boost in efficiency. In 2023, the Bengals ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in play-action and motion.

Using those concepts more was discussed before last season, but the early calf injury for Burrow mostly eliminated their usage until he was healthy, and then he suffered the wrist injury in Baltimore. Jake Browning enjoyed much of his success with play-action, motion, screens and getting outside of the pocket. Those concepts will likely roll over into the Burrow plan for 2024. The only question is how much.

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Thanks for that, Dex.

The PDJ article also mentioned about schedule difficulty. IIRC, the article said the article was like the 8th most difficult since sometime in the 1970s. So while they didn't make the playoffs, a 9-8 record with that schedule AND playing with a backup QB wasn't a bad showing  at all. 

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The Athletic - Paul Dehner:

 

2. Running back

• Overall fan concern ranking: fourth (6.4 percent)
• My concern ranking: eighth

Projected two deep

• Starters: Zack Moss, Chase Brown
• Backups: Trayveon Williams, Chris Evans

Reason for concern

Fear of the unknown always carries anxiety. The Bengals won’t be handing the ball to Joe Mixon for the first time since 2017. For some, that’s concerning. For others — namely the Bengals offensive staff — it could feel freeing. They were looking to shift to a different style and more of a two-back approach. Moss and Brown check those boxes. Moss thrived with the Indianapolis Colts last year and was an analytical darling as one of the best in the NFL in rushing yards over expected. Brown showed flashes of elite explosiveness but in a small sample. Similar to the cornerback conversion, projection abounds with Moss’ first season in Cincinnati and Brown’s expanded role.

Key stat

Moss ranked 27th of 59 qualifying running backs last year in PFF’s elusiveness rating. Mixon ranked 50th. In terms of breakaway percentage, Moss ranked 21st and Mixon 45th.

Important perspective

The sample was small with Brown, but he was one of only four running backs to average 4 yards per carry (4.1) and 10 yards per reception (11.1) last season (minimum 40 carries and 10 receptions). The Bengals will see whether the stats continue to hold as the attempts rise dramatically, but the potential to infuse real explosiveness into the offense is undeniable.

X-factor

What’s happening on third down? This spot — for the second season in a row — feels incomplete as training camp begins. Last year, it felt like they would add a third-down back at some point. They never did and eventually used tight end Drew Sample for some of the third-down protection jobs. Evans has never stayed in favor with this staff, and it’s unclear how the rotation will play out on third downs in the backfield. Could Samaje Perine get cut in Denver and return? What about free agent Jerick McKinnon of the Kansas City Chiefs? Perhaps the Bengals go forward with the current crop, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see a veteran added to the mix, especially if Brown or Moss sustains a ding.

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