AFC North: Andy Dalton. Hue Jackson

CINCINNATI -- The gospel according to Hue Jackson begins and ends with one simple command: run.

As has been written often here this offseason, it is the Cincinnati Bengals' new offensive coordinator's belief that in order for an NFL offense to be successful, it has to run the football. Physical, scrappy, powerful, pile-moving play are the basic tenants behind the coaching philosophy. A good running game can lead to an efficient passing game, Jackson believes.

[+] EnlargeJason Campbell
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsPart of Jason Campbell's job will be to help the Bengals adopt Hue Jackson's offense.
Once players return to Paul Brown Stadium late next month for the start of offseason workouts, Jackson will be tasked with selling those beliefs. That can be easier said than done. The good news for him? He already has one believer.

"I don't care how good you throw the football, you still have to be able to run the football," Jason Campbell, Cincinnati's newest backup quarterback said in his introductory news conference Thursday.

Campbell was signed by the Bengals earlier in the day, providing them with a No. 2 quarterback who will not only help push starter Andy Dalton, but give the third-year player a veteran he can learn from.

"I remember when I first came into the league and the most important thing to me was having a veteran guy in the room," said Campbell, a nine-year vet now himself. "Someone you can relate to when there's questions."

Dalton likely will have his share of questions during this year's workouts as he tries to learn the terminology involved with Jackson's new run-based scheme. Instead of just using Jackson as a sounding board as he primarily did with Jay Gruden in the past, Dalton can now also pull aside Campbell, a player who went through his own period of adapting to Jackson's scheme.

After five seasons as Washington's quarterback, the second act of Campbell's career picked up in Oakland in 2010. That same year, Jackson was hired as the Raiders' offensive coordinator. He was tasked with improving an offense that was ranked 31st in 2009, and turning it into a top-10 group as quickly as he could.

He did that within a year. The Raiders were the NFL's No. 10 total offense in 2010.

"It didn't happen overnight," Campbell said of trusting the system. "First, we were trying to figure out, 'who is this guy?' [Jackson] was hollering after every play and screaming. I told him he's a lot slimmer now than he was then."

Once Campbell and his teammates got used to what he termed Jackson's "fireball" coaching personality, they started adopting much of what he was teaching them. More importantly, they were getting scoreboard results.

"The big part of it was when we started winning games," Campbell said. "When we started looking up and were scoring almost 30 points every game, we were like, 'Man, this comes from what we're doing all in OTAs and training camp and everything."

As they went from 5-11 in 2009 to 8-8 the following season -- their first .500 or better record in nine seasons -- Campbell and Jackson's Raiders scored more than 30 points six times in 2010. The even put 59 on the Broncos that year in a 45-point rout.

"When you're scoring points and moving the ball, it becomes fun," Campbell said.

For the first time in his career, Campbell is coming to a franchise that posted a winning record the year before his arrival. Even when he went to Chicago in 2012, the Bears were coming off an 8-8 mark.

As Campbell was quick to point out, the 2014 Bengals don't have the same issues Oakland had when he and Jackson were there. They don't have to worry about convincing themselves they can win ballgames. They know they can. Their three straight playoff berths prove how well they've been doing it recently.

"The one thing this team already has is the winning attitude. That's not the aspect that you have to change here," Campbell said. "So now you're just buying into the system and we're going to work our butts off to want to be in the top 5 or top 10 in offense and scoring. It's also about understanding that everything still comes off the run game."

Last season, the Bengals attempted 587 passes. Only 11 teams attempted more, including the team Campbell spent most of the year with, the Browns.

"The reason we were scoring 20-something, 30-something points every game [in Oakland] was because we had a strong run game," Campbell said. " When you have a strong run game, your play action comes off of it, your drop-back game comes off of it and it takes pressure off your offensive line. When you're dropping back 40 or 50 times every game, it's tough. It's hard. There's good defenses in this league and you've got to be able to run the ball. You run the ball, you score."

That mantra was true for the Raiders. The better they ran, the more they scored. After averaging 106.3 yards rushing the year before Jackson arrived, they ran for 155.9 during his year as offensive coordinator. They also rushed for 138.9 in 2011, the one year Jackson served as Oakland's head coach. From 2009 to 2011 the Raiders also saw their rank among the league's scoring offenses move along a similar arc. They climbed from 31st to sixth between 2009 and 2010, and fell to 16th in 2011.

Jackson's gospel worked fairly well on the West Coast. With even more playmaking talent and a better formula for success already in place in Cincinnati, the expectation is that it will work even better. As he helps ease Dalton into it, Campbell is a full believer in Jackson's offense.

 

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