CINCINNATI -- For three weeks, Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has opined about how much further his unit has to go before he will confidently say it has arrived.
It was just after last month's 17-6 loss at Cleveland when he even offered his rather controversial but honest assessment on his offense: It was lacking identity. In the weeks since, as the Bengals have become more dedicated to the run and have gone away from primarily targeting receiver A.J. Green, they have started drawing significantly closer toward revealing a true identity.
We'll get to a little more on that specifically in a later post.
Back to the strides on offense. Gruden isn't the only one reserving judgement. Receiver Marvin Jones wants us all to exercise a little patience when discussing it, too.
"You saw a glimpse of it [at Buffalo], but there's a lot more," Jones said. "We're still scratching the surface and we still have yet to put a whole game together. We have to attack and we still have to just put our foot on the pedal more."
When the Bengals learn how to do that, Jones said, "it's going to be scary."
If their offensive numbers at this point in the season are any indication, the Bengals may live up to the wideout's nightmarish prophecy. Nightmarish for whom, you ask? Opposing defenses.
Consider these facts about the potentially "scary" scheme. Cincinnati's offense ranks:
4th in time of possession
6th in rushing attempts
7th in yards after the catch
8th in third-down conversion percentage
8th in completion percentage
T-8th in red zone efficiency
The Bengals also are on pace to have six 500-yard receivers this season. Only one other team has had that many 500-yard receivers in NFL history: the 2011 New Orleans Saints
Against the Bills on Sunday, Cincinnati picked up 243 yards after completed passes from quarterback Andy Dalton. He also completed passes to eight players, bringing his ability to get the offense going in a versatile and diverse fashion into focus.
"We feel like we've got a lot of weapons," Dalton said. "So for me, it's just getting the ball to the guys. You saw what they can do once they have the ball in their hand. You don't know how it's going to happen each week. Some weeks, it's going to be one guy. Some weeks, shoot, it's eight guys. A lot like it was last week. It just kind of depends on the week. But the more versatile we can be and the more we can spread the ball around and get guys the ball, the better we can be."
Here are a few extra tidbits from Dalton's news conference Wednesday, and locker room availability:
Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth was asked about Cincinnati's top-4 time of possession ranking. While there are few statistics -- aside from sacks and rushing yardage -- that can measure how well a line truly performs, time of possession is one of them that gives a glimpse into just steady a line can be. On average, the Bengals have the ball about 33 minutes each game. "When you use the running game and pound away at people -- we have two great complement backs -- when you are able to do that and possess the ball you also put the pressure on [the opposing] offense ... all of a sudden, you may put them in a situation where they are starting to panic, they are starting to worry about things they don't have control over," Whitworth said.
Last week, a video of a longtime Bengals fan being given tickets to his first NFL game popped up on on the internet. Virally, the man in the video has come to be known as "Bengals Dad." He's a father, and Ohio native, who has been a Bengals fan since the team arrived in 1968 but has never been to a game. Earlier this month, his son gave him tickets to next week's Bengals-Jets game in Cincinnati, and also awarded him with a signed Dalton jersey. The father's reaction was recorded and posted online. Dalton spoke about the video: "It shows the impact that players have. It shows the kind of platform that guys in the NFL, guys that play professional sports, that they have. It shows that you can make a positive impact on people. So for him to see how excited he was for getting him to come to a game, to get my jersey, it's special." Dalton said he's made sure the team does something special for Bengals Dad and Son when they come to the game.