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Bengals rush offense under Marvin Lewis
#1
Many people think of the Bengals as being a passing team under Marvin Lewis mainly because after Kitna started in '03 he had 2 Pro Bowl caliber QBs starting for the next 15 years. But from '03-'18 the Bengals actually ranked higher in rush attempts (13th) than they did in pass attempts (18th). However part of that is explained by the Bengals success. Teams that win more generally have the lead more and run the ball more. Of the 16 teams in the top half of the league in rush attempts since '03 only 4 (Buff, NYJ, Jax, Hou) have a losing record. Unfortunately since '03 the Bengals running game ranks 29th in average yards per carry. Again this may be PARTLY explained by the fact that the Bengals won a lot of games and worked on running out the clock with a lead. The top three teams in winning percentage since '03 (NE, Pitt, Ind) all rank 27th or lower in yards per carry, but those teams all won A LOT more games than the Bengals (at least 33 more).

Since '03 five different Bengal RBs have had 1,000 yd seasons. Rudi Johnson is the only one to gain more than 1,300 in a season and he did it three straight years ('04-'06). Rudi also had the most rushing tds in a season (12), and he also did that three straight years. Cedric Benson had the highest yards per game average (96.2 in '09). Jeremy Hill is the only RB to average over 5 yards per carry in a 1,00 yd season (5.1 in '14) and Mixon is the only one to catch more than 28 passes in a 1,000 yd season (43 in '18). Biggest surprise for me is that Benson never scored more than 7 tds in any of his three 1,000 yd seasons. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the only one of these RBs to have a 1,000 season with another NFL team (NE '10).

As a team under Lewis the Bengals have finished in the top ten in rushing yards twice. 9th in '09 and 6th in '14. They finished in the bottom half of the league 10 times with a low of 31st in '17. In yards per carry the Bengals have ranked in the top 10 twice . 8th last year and 9th in '05, but they finished 20th or lower 11 of 16 years.


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#2
So we run a lot of attempts, but generally don't have a good ypc average generally?

I've kind of felt like most of our offensive lines, even the good ones were more built to pass protect. They did have some good run blockers occasionally though.
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#3
A lot of the time during Lewis's tenure it really did feel like the early down runs were super predictable and that the offense went super conservative without a substantial lead(the infamous run run curl punt routine). I don't know if those perceptions are 100% accurate, but these particular stats seem to support it. I wonder if anywhere keeps track of stats like "stuff rate on first down" or "run percentage called when trailing" or "run percentage called with a one score lead." I'd expect all of them to be high compared to the rest of the league.
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#4
Marvin never really got away from the antiquated ‘3 yards and a cloud of dust’ philosophy because we play in the AFCN. The AFCN hasn’t really been that way since mid 2000’s at best.
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#5
There's no denying that Marvin always had the goal of establishing the run, as is the case with most every coach. But actually having the means to do so is another topic for discussion.

When you compare the Bengals OL's in Marvin's tenure to others in the division you can definitely see the difference in talent. Whether or not this is on Marvin or the front office is again another topic for discussion. The years in which they were successful running the ball they were also generally successful in the win/loss column - in most cases there is a direct correlation.

For the most part games in the NFL games are decided by a select number of plays, many of which occur late in the 4th quarter and have to do with keeping the chains moving. Although Marvin has had successful running teams, rarely were they good at closing games out on the ground and that is the most important statistic.

I am really looking forward to the new approach of a Zac Taylor led team. The ability to adjust in game, not just at halftime but series to series. But at the end of the day he also needs to find a way to get his team to close games out, otherwise it'll be more of the same.

I used to love (well actually hate) watching the Steelers close games out with Jerome Bettis under Bill Cowher. They'd get the lead and just pound Bettis down your throat in the 4th quarter. Boy was that frustrating as a fan of the opposing team.
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#6
(06-14-2019, 11:09 PM)THE PISTONS Wrote: So we run a lot of attempts, but generally don't have a good ypc average generally?

I've kind of felt like most of our offensive lines, even the good ones were more built to pass protect. They did have some good run blockers occasionally though.

I remember when we had a fullback.
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#7
There's more to a rush offense than how many times you run it or even total yards. Things like how many yards you gain per attempt are almost more important and especially how successful runs on third down are in gaining the first down or score. Also how often do runs get stopped behind the line and what is the YPC when "splash" plays (where a defensive breakdown causes a big gain) are subtracted.

And when you put this all together we have not been that good on the ground since we had Rudi Johnson. I think ZT and Callahan saw this and it has been driving some of their offseason choices (like the OL coach, the draft picks and even the free agents signed ). I suspect we are moving away from zone blocking also based on the player moves.
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#8
As far as YPC is concerned, it's not like we always ran a bunch of elite level guys out there at RB during his tenure. In between Rudi and Mixon there was a let of "meh"... Benson, Green-Ellis, and Hill (he had one good year, at least) don't exactly scream "high YPC".
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#9
(06-15-2019, 09:00 PM)NKURyan Wrote: As far as YPC is concerned, it's not like we always ran a bunch of elite level guys out there at RB during his tenure. In between Rudi and Mixon there was a let of "meh"... Benson, Green-Ellis, and Hill (he had one good year, at least) don't exactly scream "high YPC".

Benson wasn't that bad for us really. His first and last year with us were meh though. 2009 he was a big reason why our offense was as good as it was.
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#10
(06-16-2019, 09:58 AM)Brownshoe Wrote: Benson wasn't that bad for us really. His first and last year with us were meh though. 2009 he was a big reason why our offense was as good as it was.

I'm not saying he was bad, but I don't think he was anything particularly special. 

I will give him credit, though - I just looked up the roster from '09 and the offensive line he played behind wasn't as good as I initially thought it might've been. Maybe I'm selling him a bit short. IIRC they did run out an extra OT to block a ton that year, though.
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#11
(06-16-2019, 03:17 PM)NKURyan Wrote: I'm not saying he was bad, but I don't think he was anything particularly special. 

I will give him credit, though - I just looked up the roster from '09 and the offensive line he played behind wasn't as good as I initially thought it might've been. Maybe I'm selling him a bit short. IIRC they did run out an extra OT to block a ton that year, though.

When you need to run out six OL to run that is telling. Also, a good run blocking team can run even if the RB is not a superstar.
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#12
(06-15-2019, 05:51 PM)Joelist Wrote: There's more to a rush offense than how many times you run it or even total yards. Things like how many yards you gain per attempt are almost more important and especially how successful runs on third down are in gaining the first down or score. Also how often do runs get stopped behind the line and what is the YPC when "splash" plays (where a defensive breakdown causes a big gain) are subtracted.

And when you put this all together we have not been that good on the ground since we had Rudi Johnson. I think ZT and Callahan saw this and it has been driving some of their offseason choices (like the OL coach, the draft picks and even the free agents signed ). I suspect we are moving away from zone blocking also based on the player moves.

Agree

Being 8th in this and 10th in that or whatever only tells a part of the story. You get stuffed for no gain, +2, -1, +2, -3, +25 on a play where two defenders fell down. Your YPC is 4.5 or something and it looks like you've been productive but you haven't.

Our running game hasn't struck any fear in opposing D's for some time.
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#13
(06-15-2019, 09:21 AM)Devils Advocate Wrote: Marvin never really got away from the antiquated ‘3 yards and a cloud of dust’ philosophy because we play in the AFCN. The AFCN hasn’t really been that way since mid 2000’s at best.

This year will be an eye opening education in just how lame Marvin's regime had become.
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#14
(06-16-2019, 08:13 PM)McC Wrote: This year will be an eye opening education in just how lame Marvin's regime had become.

I believe it will as well.
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#15
No news to me, but yeah we usually were a run-first team, although not lopsidedly so.

We generally finished with a good amount of rush attempts, but a poor YPC. That's why I put more weight on the run blocking when discussing Paul Alexander all those years.

Marvin Lewis = conservative, run-first offense
Paul Alexander = decent pass blocking, but poor run blocking

They were a bad combo. Notice how last year we had our best YPC since 2000 after dumping PA.
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#16
Being a rushing team and attempting a lot of rushes are vastly different animals.
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#17
(06-16-2019, 08:13 PM)McC Wrote: This year will be an eye opening education in just how lame Marvin's regime had become.

For me it was about when he ran the ball, how soon he abandoned the run, when it was worth banging out a low YPC in order to establish a foundation for further play calling and hopefully wear down the opposing defense, and how he adjusted to the adjustments made by defenses.   A lot of factors involved.

Bengals.com had a nice article by Brian Baldinger regarding Mixon and his prospects for this year.   I think his quality as a back was very evident, and I think the potential for a dynamic running game this year is high.   I like the focus ZT has had on putting this team together in the off season.

https://www.bengals.com/video/baldy-s-breakdowns-10-reasons-why-mixon-will-lead-the-nfl-in-rushing 

I'm pretty optimistic about it at this point.
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#18
(06-19-2019, 12:01 PM)3wt Wrote: For me it was about when he ran the ball, how soon he abandoned the run, when it was worth banging out a low YPC in order to establish a foundation for further play calling and hopefully wear down the opposing defense, and how he adjusted to the adjustments made by defenses.   A lot of factors involved.

Bengals.com had a nice article by Brian Baldinger regarding Mixon and his prospects for this year.   I think his quality as a back was very evident, and I think the potential for a dynamic running game this year is high.   I like the focus ZT has had on putting this team together in the off season.

https://www.bengals.com/video/baldy-s-breakdowns-10-reasons-why-mixon-will-lead-the-nfl-in-rushing 

I'm pretty optimistic about it at this point.



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#19
(06-16-2019, 03:50 PM)bengalfan74 Wrote: Agree

Being 8th in this and 10th in that or whatever only tells a part of the story. You get stuffed for no gain, +2, -1, +2, -3, +25 on a play where two defenders fell down. Your YPC is 4.5 or something and it looks like you've been productive but you haven't.

Our running game hasn't struck any fear in opposing D's for some time.

FootballOutsiders has a formula where the O-line is given extra blame for all runs of zero or negative yards while the RBs get most of the credit for yards gained more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.

It is called "Adjusted Line Yards" . and you would be surprised how well our O-line ranked using this formula.


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#20
(06-19-2019, 01:49 PM)fredtoast Wrote: FootballOutsiders has a formula where the O-line is given extra blame for all runs of zero or negative yards while the RBs get most of the credit for yards gained more than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage.

It is called "Adjusted Line Yards" . and you would be surprised how well our O-line ranked using this formula.

If our line ranked well in that area then the formula has problems because that is the exact area we stunk royally at. It's been years since we could trust our line to do the blocking job to let us pick up 3rd and 3 or so consistently for the first down. In fact they haven't even been trustworthy at 3rd and 2 or 3rd and 1. It may seem like an isolated stat but it is a critical indicator of your rush offense - if you can reliably pickup 3rd and 1-3 on the ground the world opens up for your offense in terms of ability to close out games and defenses not being able to sell out to either pass or run. 
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