Burrow excited about ‘variety’ of weapons on Bengals’ offense

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow piqued fans’ interest when he used the term “eye candy” to describe some of the differences in the offense this season.

Burrow said the Bengals are making a point to dictate how opponents defend them this year, after teams tried to take away the deep ball in the past and forced Cincinnati to adjust to them instead of the other way around.

This offseason, the Bengals were able to showcase some of the additional weapons they’ve got while Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins were not participating in voluntary workouts or mandatory minicamp. Chase did walkthroughs in minicamp but otherwise just watched, and Higgins had not yet signed his now-finalized franchise tender so he was not eligible.

Cincinnati’s offense could offer a lot more variety this year, from utilizing the running backs on more screens, using tight end Mike Gesicki in the slot, moving around versatile receivers like Chase and rookie Jermaine Burton and inserting up-and-coming talent like Andrei Iosivas into the fold more.

“I think we’ll see a little bit more variety than we have in the past,” Burrow said. “But I think it’s I think we’re gonna dictate that a little more this year. I’m excited about the pressure we’re going to put on defenses with our style of offense this year, I think it’ll be exciting to watch.”

“I think with the personnel that we have this year, we will be able to do a lot more with personnel groupings, putting different people in different spots in and doing a lot of different things as far as eye candy and making teams adjust their personnel based on ours,” Burrow added. “So, I think the next couple months throughout training camp will kind of iron all that out and coaches will go back and self-scout for the next month after this and kind of iron that out, but I’m excited to kind of dive into that world.”

The Bengals also have a new perspective in the offensive coordinator chair with Dan Pitcher filling that role after Brian Callahan’s departure to become the Titans’ head coach this offseason. Pitcher isn’t overhauling the playbook, but he does bring some new ideas, and coach Zac Taylor values his input.

The core offense remains the same, but just like every other year, there will be new wrinkles, and new personnel enables those tweaks to be a little more prominent.

“It’ll be interesting once you put the pads on and you’re 11 on 11, and we certainly have our vision of how things will go offensively, but there’s flexibility for it to evolve as training camp goes because we do have new bodies at different positions and we got a new guy in the running back room, new guy in the tight end room, new guys in the offensive line room, new guys in the receiver’s room,” Taylor said. “So to say, this is what it’s definitely going to look like on August 25, we’re not going to put ourself in that box. We’re going to allow it to be flexible as we practice and things can shift as we go and we’re very open to that and we’re going to be flexible that way, and I’m excited to see guys step up.

“There’s still rooms for roles to evolve and grow and others may shrink, and so that’s just the beauty of having good depth. I think that we’ve got good depth and there’s a lot of competition, and so we’ll just see how training camp goes and I’m excited to watch that process in unfold.”

Tyler Boyd’s departure and continued desire to take defensive pressure off weapons like Chase opens the door for his role in particular to evolve in Year 4.

The overhaul of the running back position with Zack Moss replacing Joe Mixon and the expectation for Chase Brown to make a big leap in his second season also will play a factor in change to the offense. Mixon wasn’t as strong in pass protection, but Moss takes pride in his role in that area and Brown seemed to take well to the coaching he received going into the offseason as well.

Taylor said he made a small comment to Brown about what he needed to work on and four months later it was obvious he had really emphasized it to give himself a chance to be available for more downs. Burrow also noticed the work Brown had put in and said he looks forward to seeing how that impacts the offense.

The running backs could certainly be a group to watch in training camp.

“I feel really good about our backs,” Burrow said. “Chase (Brown) looks great. He’s an explosive guy that can take it to the house at any time. He’s looked great catching the ball out of the backfield. He worked really hard at that and it’s paying off and then Zack (Moss) coming in, he’s going to do a great job for us this year. He’s a guy that’s very even-keeled. He’s going to do his job. He’s going to run really hard. So I’m excited to see what those two guys can bring.”

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