Bengals factoid: Run-game direction

Starting Friday, each weekday between now and the preseason, we'll have posts devoted to one unique stat that involves the Cincinnati Bengals. The statistics will revolve around the team as a whole or individual players.

Here's the first Bengals factoid: 3

We've made a lot this week about the Bengals' offense, particularly its dedication to having a truly physical, run-first philosophy. So, why not bring up a unique rushing statistic as we close out the week?

Three is the Bengals' NFL rank in running plays that went behind both the left and right guards last season. Cincinnati ran the ball 70 times behind the left guard combination of Clint Boling and Andrew Whitworth, and 92 times behind the right guard combination of Kevin Zeitler and Mike Pollak. The 70 carries ranked as the third most for a team behind the left guard, and the 92 also were the third most for a team that ran behind the right guard.

One thing the statistics show is the fact the Bengals actually did run fairly often last season. Cincinnati had 481 carries last year, good enough to rank eighth in the league. It's easy to think that they didn't run often primarily because of their approach in their playoff loss. Running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard were handed the ball just 20 times in a game that also saw quarterback Andy Dalton throw 51 passes; 31 of them came in the fourth quarter.

The problem with the Bengals' prolific rushing statistics, though, is the fact that they weren't very effective when they ran. Overall, they averaged 3.65 yards per attempt, good enough to rank 28th. When it came to specifically running behind the left guard they averaged 3.43 yards per rush. That ranked 24th among teams who ran that direction. They also averaged 3.67 yards per rush behind the right guard, good enough for a 20th ranking among teams who ran that direction.

All of this is to show the Bengals were between-the-tackles runners last season. The question is, with a different offensive coordinator and a tweaked philosophy and identity, will they be better at running that way this year?