- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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We looked last week at the numbers Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham has posted throughout his career whenever his offense enters the red zone. As you can see in the link, he's actually done quite well within the final 20 yards before the end zone.
But how has the offense on the whole handled those final 10 yards of a drive? How well has it performed in recent goal-to-go situations? Quite well; at least in 2013.
Monday's factoid digs a little deeper into the scenarios by looking specifically at the following number: 84.0.
When it came to their scoring efficiency on goal-to-go drives last season, the Bengals produced touchdowns at an 84.0 percent clip, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Of their 25 goal-to-go drives, 21 resulted in touchdowns. One resulted in a field goal. Only three ended without a score of any kind.
The 84.0 percentage was the highest among NFL teams in goal-to-go efficiency last season, and ranked just ahead of the 82.1 percentage the Lions amassed. No other team had a goal-to-go efficiency percentage in the 80s or higher.
Cincinnati was relatively balanced when it came to scoring in goal-to-go situations, reaching the end zone 11 times via the pass compared with 10 times on the ground. Only three players had goal-to-go rushing scores while six caught touchdown passes from quarterback Andy Dalton in those situations. Marvin Jones, anchored by his two goal-to-go scores in a record-setting four-touchdown day against the Jets last October, paced the Bengals' receivers. He had three goal-to-go touchdown receptions last season. A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu and Jermaine Gresham each had two.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis was Cincinnati's most prolific scorer in goal-to-go scenarios, finishing six drives with touchdowns. As the Bengals begin weighing the value of keeping Green-Ellis or cutting him, or at the least tweaking his role from last season, they are also considering his proven ability as a drive finisher. When it comes to closing out drives, no Bengal was a clutch as Green-Ellis in 2013.
The Bengals scored six times last season on third-and-goal or later plays. Four of those touchdowns were the result of passes from Dalton. The other two were runs by Green-Ellis; both of which came on fourth-and-goal. The two fourth-and-goal conversions by Green-Ellis were among three overall fourth-and-goal conversions which ended in the end zone. A 1-yard Dalton pass to Eifert was also a fourth-and-goal conversion.
Along with Green-Ellis' rushing scores, Giovani Bernard had three rushing touchdowns in goal-to-go scenarios last season. Dalton had one of his own.
It will be interesting to see if the Bengals are able to repeat their goal-to-go success this season when new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson officially takes over this fall. It's quite possible they will. Not only will the Bengals bring back much of their personnel from last season, but here's something to consider: across 2010 and 2011, the years Jackson served as the Raiders' offensive coordinator and head coach, Oakland ranked sixth in goal-to-go efficiency. In those two seasons, Oakland's offense scored 37 touchdowns and kicked nine field goals on 48 drives that ended in goal-to-go downs. Only twice did the Raiders fail to convert a score from short of any kind.