Published 4:56 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Bengals looking for offensive help
CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton hasn’t seen this much change in the Bengals’ offense since his rookie season. He’s expecting even more when the NFL draft begins on Thursday.
For the second straight year, the Bengals need a lot of help on offense.
They chose receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon with their first two picks last season, hoping to inject big plays into an offense that had declined.
Instead, things got even worse — Cincinnati finished last in the league in offense for the first time in its history.
Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor has been given a free hand to overhaul the offense, and the Bengals are expected to put a heavy accent on it during the draft.
“That’s one of the big things that we’re trying to do here: Start from scratch, make things feel new,” Dalton said.
“There are a lot of new faces and coaches, a couple new players, and I think we have more coming in the next couple of weeks. Things feel new, and that’s a good thing.
“What we’ve done in the last couple of years wasn’t good enough, and so we’ve got to do things a different way.”
There are new coordinators on offense and defense, although head coach Marvin Lewis was retained and given a two-year contract extension that provide more chances to get his elusive first playoff win. The Bengals started a youth movement last season and it didn’t go smoothly, especially on the offense.
Unlike previous years when the Bengals could draft from a long-term perspective, they’ll be thinking about immediate impacts from its top picks.
Some things to watch with the Bengals’ draft:
The offensive line was the biggest factor in Cincinnati’s fall to the bottom of the league. The Bengals let left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right guard Kevin Zeitler leave as free agents, and the line fell apart. In this offseason, center Russell Bodine signed a two-year deal with Buffalo, creating another hole. They’ve begun addressing the problem through the draft already, trading with the Bills for left tackle Cordy Glenn. The teams swapped first-round picks, with Buffalo moving up to No. 12 and Cincinnati sliding to 21st overall. They need more help in the draft.
The Bengals took AJ McCarron in the fifth round in 2014, hoping to acquire a reliable backup for Dalton. The move worked well — McCarron took over when Dalton broke the thumb on his passing hand in 2015 and led the Bengals into the playoffs. McCarron left for Buffalo as a free agent, and the Bengals signed Matt Barkley to a two-year deal, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if they considered a quarterback in the fifth round again.
Vontaze Burfict is suspended for the first four games of the season — the third year in a row that he’s serving punishment from the NFL. As long as he’s around, there will be a need for depth at that position. Burfict has missed the start of each of the past four seasons because of injury or suspensions.
HITS, MISSES AND BARGAINS
The Bengals haven’t gotten much from the offensive players taken in the opening rounds the past three years. They chose offensive tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher in the first two rounds in 2015. Ogbuehi has struggled to keep a spot, and Fisher had a procedure for an irregular heartbeat last year. Receiver Tyler Boyd — a second-round pick in 2016 — managed only 22 caches in 10 games in 2017. Last year, Ross had shoulder surgery that limited him at the start of training camp and wound up with only one carry — he fumbled — and no receptions before another shoulder injury ended his season. Mixon started seven games and finished with 626 yards and a 3.5-yard average.
Browns considering four options at quarterback
CLEVELAND (AP) — As far as Cleveland fans are concerned, only one quarterback fits all the essential criteria for the Browns to draft him with the No. 1 overall pick.
His last name? Darnoldallenrosenmayfield.
With the NFL draft quickly approaching, the team’s die-hard supporters, and there have been few groups in NFL history to suffer like this one has the past two seasons, are divided over which of the top four college QBs the team should select.
There’s the Sam Darnold contingent, which sees the two-year Southern Cal starter as the safest choice, the one who checks all the positive boxes. Josh Allen’s supporters point to the big Wyoming QB’s high-velocity arm, which could help him knife passes through those tricky home winds off Lake Erie.
Josh Rosen’s backers love the UCLA star’s accuracy and his cerebral game. And of course there’s the Baker Mayfield army, which dismiss his 6-foot frame and believe Oklahoma’s swaggering Heisman Trophy winner is the next Brett Favre.
Oh, and let’s not forget the fans who feel Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is worthy of going first and that the Browns can wait until No. 4 to get their quarterback.
But while there’s no clear consensus between fans as the Browns prepare for a franchise-changing draft, general manager John Dorsey and his staff will have presumably reached an accord by the time Commissioner Roger Goodell is handed their card on the stage at AT&T Stadium.
If not, well, these are the bumbling Browns.
Cleveland’s inability to find a franchise quarterback — they’ve had 28 starters since 1999 — is the biggest reason for the team’s sustained misery. And once again they have the chance to correct the problem after passing on Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson in the past two drafts.
Dorsey, who as Kanas City’s GM got the Chiefs turned around with some solid drafts, has been aggressive in fixing mistakes by previous Cleveland regimes. Since December, he’s traded for QB Tyrod Taylor and Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry, revamped the secondary and spent months scouting the top quarterbacks.
He knows what he’s looking for.
“The only thing I really care about is do the guys win?” he said “Does he have accuracy? Does he have a strong arm? Can he throw the ball in the red zone and in tight windows? Can he drive the ball? At the end of the game, does he win? That is kind of what I look for.”