Bengals factoid: Road rushing average

June, 11, 2014
Jun 11
8:15
AM ET
Paul Brown Stadium was where the Cincinnati Bengals played their best football last regular season, winning all eight of their games there.

Whenever they left the friendly confines of home, though, a different story played out. They struggled on the road, compiling a 3-5 record.

Most of their problems stemmed from a passing game that had trouble with rhythm and consistency. Some of them the result of untimely miscues on both sides of the ball at critical moments in those games. Turnovers, namely interceptions, often ruined their victory plans. In most cases, their stats on the road were worse than those they compiled at home.

In Wednesday's Bengals factoid, though, we look at one specific statistic where the Bengals actually fared better on the road than they did at home. "Better" is relative, though. They still weren't very good.

The number of the day: 3.77.

That's the number of yards the Bengals averaged on rushing plays away from Paul Brown Stadium last season. It was actually 0.12 yards higher than their overall season average of 3.65 yards per carry. At home, they rushed for 3.54 yards per carry.

The road average was buoyed primarily by comparatively strong rushing performances at Buffalo (4.02 yards per carry), at Miami (4.66 ypc) and at San Diego (4.32 ypc). In addition to being the three games with the highest yards-per-carry averages the Bengals had last season, all three games also saw Cincinnati's highest yard totals of the year. The Bengals rushed for 165 yards against the Bills, 164 against the Chargers and 163 against the Dolphins.

As good as that might make the 3.77-yard average seem, you have to consider the fact that the entire league averaged 4.14 yards per carry in road games last season.

Cincinnati simply wasn't very good at running the ball on the road.

That's something new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson wants to address this season. He's already made it clear he plans to lead a more physical, uptempo offensive attack, and that he wants to use the run to set up the pass. You'll see a lot more play-action under Jackson's scheme that should open up deeper passing possibilities. When the Bengals go deep this season, they hope to make those passes hurt. When they dink and dunk their way up the field, they hope to turn the short passes into long yard-after-the-catch gains.

In order to do all of that, though, they know they have to more effectively run the ball at home and on the road.

Giovani Bernard figures to have a bigger role in Jackson's new scheme. As a rookie last season, he helped pace the Bengals' low rushing average by picking up 4.1 yards per carry overall. On the road, he was actually marginally worse, rushing for 3.97 yards per carry.

After rushing for 3.4 yards at home and on the road combined, BenJarvus Green-Ellis has had trouble finding his exact role this offseason. Jackson contends there's still a place for the veteran for now, and reaffirmed to reporters Tuesday that he and the coaching staff have no plans of parting with the rusher just yet. Not the fastest of running backs, Green-Ellis was used last season primarily as a physical, between-the-tackles runner.

The year before, while Bernard was still in college, Green-Ellis was hitting holes a little quicker and benefited from better run blocking as the team's premier back. He broke off seven runs of 20 yards or more. Last season, he only had one such run; a 25-yarder in the overtime win at Buffalo.

If the Bengals run into some of the passing problems they had on the road last season, their best course of action this year would be to revert back to the run. Along with Bernard and possibly Green-Ellis they have rookie Jeremy Hill and backups Cedric Peerman and Rex Burkhead who they can turn to. Those three have made positive impressions on coaches, and they also have made the competition at the deep position that much more intense.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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