Bill Lazor's Top Priority for 2018

Joined: November 25th, 2007, 12:30 am

June 2nd, 2018, 5:09 am #1

Simply put, score more points in the second half, dude.

Jay Gruden's offense with it's pedigree stretching back to Bill Walsh is now gone. In it's place Bill Lazor is customizing something new for Andy Dalton, built fresh from the ground up. Or so we are told. It will have bits a pieces of everything Lazor has seen. A little Air Coryell. A little West Coast. A little Joe Gibbs and a little Chip Kelly. Whatever it is and whatever you call it, there's a clear goal for improvement. Check out the chart below.

As bad as they were last season, they could have stayed "in the hunt" if only they had scored in the second half like they did in the first.* And they weren't exactly an offensive juggernaut in the first half. Note the difference in second half scoring in their seven wins versus their nine losses. Second half point production fell through the floor in those nine losses, especially in the four games where they lost by four points or less. This was presumably caused by the O-line wearing down throughout the game. (If you have a better explanation, then do tell.)

This was definitely not a league wide trend. The Bungs produced the worst proportional drop-off in second half scoring: 37%. Only two other teams scored four or more fewer points on average in the second half, and they were the highly prolific Rams and Patriots (approx. 29 points per game each). Think they might have protected any big leads in the second half?

This is MBS where we're typically as pessimistic as all get-out (and proud of it!) but this is cause for a certain amount of modest hope. Don't worry about recreating the 2015 offense. Just become a below-average scoring team in the second half.

For reference, here are Dalton's updated QB rating splits by quarter and a similar chart for yards rushing.  Again, as we can see, everything went to Hell in the second half during 2017. But in the first half the stats were generally consistent with the five consecutive years of playoff appearances, 2011-2015. Yes, even the rushing yardage. Believe it or not.

If you do see any cause for optimism in these data, you should also see the implied indictment of team management. Letting the O-line fall off a cliff really did sabotage the entire season. Hey look, for nine games they couldn't score worth isht in the second half, but they were sort-of okay the rest of the time.

Sources: ... n/2017.htm

* The scoring chart includes those three pick-sixes on defense. No matter how they actually scored, the pattern tells the tale.
" Bell-cow quarterbacks are like queen bees. Only one can take you to the land of milk and honey."
~ What Mike Brown never quite said, but should have.

Joined: December 14th, 2001, 1:34 am

June 2nd, 2018, 5:46 pm #2

The got a nickname 

"The New Bengals"  that should catapult them into the playoffs at the very least 

Joined: November 25th, 2007, 12:30 am

June 16th, 2018, 2:53 am #3

Thinking again about Lazor's from-the-ground-up offense and how it replaces the West Coast offense they've used since 2011. Seems to me this is more of a unique situation than I realized.

Looking back over the history of the franchise, they've almost always run either a proto-West Coast offense, an actual branch of the West Coast offense, or an offense that used a West Coast offense as its foundation. Check it out below. Recall that for many years the franchise was too damn cheap to even have an offensive coordinator. That's why you'll see the head coach's name (with a question mark) in the third column for multiple years.
Year Offense Type Offensive Head
2018   The Potpourri offense?   Bill Lazor
2017 West Coast foundation     Ken Zampese / Bill Lazor
2016 West Coast foundation Ken Zampese
2015 West Coast foundation Hue Jackson
2014 West Coast foundation Hue Jackson
2013 West Coast branch Jay Gruden
2012 West Coast branch Jay Gruden
2011 West Coast branch Jay Gruden
2010 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2009 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2008 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2007 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2006 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2005 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2004 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2003 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2002 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2001 Air Coryell branch Bob Bratkowski
2000 West Coast branch Ken Anderson
1999 West Coast branch Ken Anderson
1998 West Coast branch Ken Anderson
1997 West Coast branch Ken Anderson
1996 West Coast branch Bruce Coslet / Ken Anderson
1995 West Coast branch Bruce Coslet
1994 West Coast branch Bruce Coslet
1993 West Coast foundation David Shula?
1992 West Coast foundation David Shula?
1991 West Coast branch Sam Wyche?
1990 West Coast branch Sam Wyche?
1989 West Coast branch Bruce Coslet
1988 West Coast branch Bruce Coslet
1987 West Coast branch Bruce Coslet
1986 West Coast branch Bruce Coslet
1985 West Coast branch Sam Wyche?
1984 West Coast branch Sam Wyche?
1983 Lindy Infante's offense Forrest Gregg? Bruce Coslet?
1982 Lindy Infante's offense Lindy Infante
1981 Lindy Infante's offense Lindy Infante
1980 Forrest Gregg's offense?   Forrest Gregg? Lindy Infante?
1979 proto-West Coast foundation Homer Rice? Boyd Dowler?
1978 proto-West Coast foundation Bill Johnson? Boyd Dowler?
1977 proto-West Coast foundation Bill Johnson? Boyd Dowler?
1976 proto-West Coast foundation   Bill Johnson? Boyd Dowler?
1975 proto-West Coast Bill Walsh
1974 proto-West Coast Bill Walsh
1973 proto-West Coast Bill Walsh
1972 proto-West Coast Bill Walsh
1971 proto-West Coast Bill Walsh
1970 proto-West Coast Bill Walsh
1969 proto-West Coast Bill Walsh
1968 proto-West Coast Bill Walsh
I took some educated guesses, and I'm open to being corrected. Note that out of the first 50 years there were ten that were Air Coryell-ish and three or four that were Lindy Infante's personal creation. And I'm not sure whether Infante built his offense atop a West Coast playbook or not. So for at least 72% of the franchise's history they've been very West Coast-y.

Bill Lazor is thus creating some serious "discontinuity" here. Definitely can't hurt. If there's something this franchise could use it's more of that. Then again, the last time they broke tradition on offense to such an extent, the result was very offensive indeed: Bob Bratkowski's personal branch of Air Coryell. Run-run-pass-punt. Run-run-pass-punt. Run-run-pass-punt. Run-run-pass-punt. Run-run-pass-punt. Run-run-pass-punt...

Let's not go through that again.
" Bell-cow quarterbacks are like queen bees. Only one can take you to the land of milk and honey."
~ What Mike Brown never quite said, but should have.

Joined: November 25th, 2007, 12:30 am

June 19th, 2018, 4:43 am #4

Recall when the Bungs allowed both Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu to leave during the 2016 offseason. Two successive losing seasons followed. How big was the actual drop-off in receiving? Seems like a reasonable question to ask, so let's take a look.

I originally planned to consider the yardage and TD's year-to-year for the top-3 receivers only, but it wasn't much different from the numbers for everybody at the position. Might as well chart the totals for the all WR's, all TE's, and all RB's, as the players at one position can help compensate for those at another.

*Data taken from

We can see what happened for those five straight playoff years from 2011 to 2015 as well as for the last two down years. Not as big of a decline as I expected when you consider the entire span. Looks like TE was a bigger issue for touchdowns with Tyler Eifert's health being the culprit. As for yardage, one additional half-way decent drive per game might have brought the totals in line for 2017. Considering how bad they performed in the second half, another 30 passing yards would have still amounted to horrid.

What this simple look at the numbers doesn't consider is the impact a wideout can have in a single game. Jones and Sanu would each explode on occasion and punish the defense for double-teaming AJ Green. We didn't see much of that the last two years outside of Tyler Boyd and his one Ravens-killer reception.

Of course with that O-line Jones and Sanu would have had their problems as well. Andy Dalton can't connect with anybody when he's running for his life. Not to mention the defense which played just well enough to lose in 2017.
" Bell-cow quarterbacks are like queen bees. Only one can take you to the land of milk and honey."
~ What Mike Brown never quite said, but should have.

Joined: January 28th, 2007, 11:34 am

June 21st, 2018, 2:09 pm #5

Holy crap, Psycho. Nice work. I think you can also attribute 2017 to a new coordinator. Bill Lazor has already proven he isn't the right guy for the job.

Joined: November 25th, 2007, 12:30 am

June 22nd, 2018, 2:35 am #6

Thanks, Falc. I'm giving Lazor the benfit of the doubt for now. Let's see what he can do when everything is done by his own design, rather than inheriting a thrice-baked playbook. It would appear that a modest improvement might go a long way. Run the ball somewhat competently in the second half, and score once in a while.
" Bell-cow quarterbacks are like queen bees. Only one can take you to the land of milk and honey."
~ What Mike Brown never quite said, but should have.

Joined: November 25th, 2007, 12:30 am

July 4th, 2018, 8:14 pm #7

What's that old saying? MB could fack up a good wet dream? Yeah, I am well aware. Looking for causes of optimism can make you look like a fool. Yet I'm sticking my head out on this thread, because, on paper...

The Bengals might have been a playoff team in 2017 if only their second half scoring had improved from absolutely horrid to merely lousy.

That was in spite of all the negative trends, including:
  • Marvin Lewis was reluctant to play Joe Mixon, the new bell-cow back.
  • Tyler Eifert was his usual no-show I-hurt self.
  • First round pick John Ross, "fastest man in the NFL", was the proverbial China doll and never showed up.
  • Slot receiver Tyler Boyd never showed up for who-knows-why until late in the season.
  • The offensive line was a woeful woebegone train wreck of an unmitigated disaster.
Keep that in mind when you read this commentary by Adam Rank on

Five reasons why the Bengals will make the 2018 NFL playoffs
Adam Rank - - Published: July 4, 2018 at 10:18 a.m. Updated: July 4, 2018 at 12:46 p.m.

The Bengals and Marvin Lewis are giving it another go. Who saw that plot twist coming? I thought for sure they were going to split up like Jen Aniston and Vince Vaughn in "The Break-Up." Over the last couple years, Marv and the Bengals looked like one of those couples staying together for the kids. They looked miserable together. There was no heat. No passion. And then, all of a sudden, we got an Evite announcing they were going to renew their vows in a Las Vegas ceremony with an Elvis impersonator as the officiant.

What a wild offseason.

But I'll be honest with you, Bengals fans. We've been through some rough times, you and me. I've always shot you straight, though. And my honest opinion here is ...

I don't hate this decision.

There is talent on the roster. Lewis has gotten you double-digit wins before -- and it's conceivable the Bengals could get back to the tournament after two playoff-free seasons. Now, it could continue the vicious cycle of him getting an extension and we're doing this again for the next five years. But for this season, it could work. Here are five reasons why:

1) The offensive line won't be as offensive

Everything starts up front. If the offensive line doesn't get better, everything from this point on is moot. The Bengals made two moves in the spring that I really like for 2018. Getting Cordy Glenn via trade was enormous. He immediately legitimizes the line as an anchor at the left tackle spot. He's one of the best at his position. And I know the haters -- Steelers fans, amirite? -- will be all, "IF the guy can stay healthy." Which, no kidding. Thank you for letting us know how this works. You can say this about everyone in the league. ... OK, considering Glenn has missed 15 games over the past two seasons, I guess, um, that is a fair point. But if he's healthy, the LT spot is rock solid.

I also really liked the first-round pick of center Billy Price out of Ohio State. I actually had Price tagged to the Bengals in my draft preview. Watch out, Mike Mayock. Good for Cincy, getting a player who dominated in college ... before he got hurt at the NFL Scouting Combine, scaring some folks away. It's like walking into a restaurant with a "B" health rating. Sometimes you have to walk on the wild side.

2) Belated returns from the 2017 draft class

The Bengals went hard on the offensive side of the ball early in the 2017 NFL Draft. Two huge swings. Two huge misses. At least in Year 1. But that's OK. The bold approach could pay off this year -- and beyond.
First, I liked the John Ross pick at No. 9 overall last year. He's so fast. I mean, like really fast. I know people like to say they're fast, but Ross really is. Following that selection, I remember saying -- over and over again -- that Ross himself might not put up huge numbers, but his mere presence on the field will open it up for A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd.

Then Ross played 17 snaps last year.

Shoulder and knee injuries hijacked his rookie campaign. So there is nowhere to go but up, right? Ross will now be the subject of the various summertime tropes, including a couple personal faves: "The best shape of his life" and "Regaining his form". In fact, those stories are already bubbling up. I'm here for it.

And then there was the second-round pick: Joe Mixon. Look, as I've stated before on NFL Network and elsewhere, I struggle analyzing this guy. That's just the truth. The video tape of him striking a woman is impossible to forget. But in this piece, I'm tasked with assessing the Bengals' outlook for 2018. And on the field, Mixon offers a spectacular skill set. It wasn't really on display much last year, quite possibly due to injuries and poor line play. But the belief is Mixon will break out behind a much-improved front in 2018. That theory makes sense -- and it needs to be right for the Bengals to win. Still, Pro Football Focus tells me that he ranked 43rd (out of 53 qualifying backs) in yards after contact. He was 49th in elusive rating. Again, Bengals fans hope injuries and the line were the biggest problems, but Mixon himself has to be better.

3) Andy Dalton is better than you think

The Bengals play 14 games in the 1 p.m. window, so that's great news! I know, I know: That was a cheap shot. But a narrative -- like, say "Andy Dalton crumbles in prime time" -- is at least somewhat rooted in truth, right?
All kidding aside, I like Dalton as a quarterback. He's developed into a typically-efficient passer who doesn't turn the ball over a lot. Yes, he had 12 interceptions last year, but that was uncharacteristic, considering he had 15 total over the previous two years. I mean, he's a good quarterback. And if his dad had been a middling quarterback in the NFL in the 1970s, people would overlook certain shortcomings.
And as an aside, I'm glad the Bengals have decided to go for it, resisting the temptation to spend a high pick on a quarterback and start over. Dalton is just 30 years old. He's led his team to the playoffs five times. What exactly are you looking for?

4) Teryl Austin brings a new feel to the defense

This defense clearly hasn't been the same since Mike Zimmer left for Minnesota in 2014. Zimmer's last three units in Cincy ranked seventh, sixth and third in total defense. Since then: 22nd, 11th, 17th and 18th. I see two big initiatives for Austin ...

First, get Vontaze Burfict on board. He's polarizing, but talented. And let's be honest: The Bengals can use a little bit of an attitude on defense. I mean, within the rules. But some attitude, for sure. In his final year under Zimmer, Burfict posted an NFL-high 171 tackles, three sacks and a pick. Still just 27, he hasn't come close to that kind of stat line since. Bring that guy back, Teryl!

Second, create some turnovers. The Bengals were next-to-last with 14 takeaways last year. Only the Cleveland Browns had fewer. So, you were like dead last among the real teams. Austin was really good at Detroit in this category last year -- the Lions finished third with 32. Getting anywhere near that amount would work wonders for Cincinnati's defense.

5) William Jackson has true shutdown CB potential -- just ask Antonio Brown

Jackson was great as a third corner for the Bengals, but he's ready to take the next step. Pro Football Focus had him as one of the highest-rated corners in the league last year. Quarterbacks had a passer rating of just 36.1 against him. The thing that should stick with Bengals fans, though, is how great he was against Antonio Brown. According to PFF, Brown was targeted seven times when covered by Jackson. AB had zero receptions. And there were four knockdowns.

This is the kind of stud the Bengals can anchor a defense around. And one of Austin's hallmarks is finding ways to get the most out of his defense. He's not the kind of guy to come and do the my-way-or-the-highway stuff that a lot of coordinators are guilty of.

* * * * *

The Bengals have a legitimate chance to reach the playoffs, whether most people realize it or not. And really, you'd much rather be that team everyone is sleeping on. Folks love teams like the 49ers and Bears this offseason, but everyone sleeps on the Bengals. Be cool with that. Because you have a legit chance. (Oh, and forgive me for saying games against you automatically equal two easy wins in the Steelers' piece. I have to say things like that. You know how their fans can be.) ... l-playoffs
I don't foresee the D taking a step back, either. That puts it on the Offense, particulary on the second half running game, in my estimation. We'll see.

And by the way, some of us knew there was no impending Mike-Marvin breakup coming. Geesh.
" Bell-cow quarterbacks are like queen bees. Only one can take you to the land of milk and honey."
~ What Mike Brown never quite said, but should have.

Joined: January 28th, 2007, 11:34 am

July 5th, 2018, 6:59 pm #8

I dunno, Psycho. I think that's all pretty optimistic. Even for a Bungles Fan. I can't see 95% of that shit happening.

Joined: November 25th, 2007, 12:30 am

August 9th, 2018, 11:05 pm #9

It will be interesting to track Lazor's success throughout the year. He won't have many excuses if things go poorly, considering these advantages:
  • He was allowed to toss the old playbook and start from scratch with a new one.
  • He knows his personnel well, as he was previously quarterbacks coach for 18 games and OC for 14.
  • He presumably hand-picked his new wide receivers coach, Bob Bicknell.
  • Ditto for his new quarterbacks coach, Alex Van Pelt.
  • Ditto for his new offensive line coach, Frank Pollack.
  • (He at least had a big say in the hiring of each. Pollack, at least, was clearly his top choice.)
  • He had Pollack around to help him design the new running game.
  • He has an experienced quarterback who has had some success: Andy Dalton.
  • He has an All Star wide receiver in AJ Green.
  • He has a set of young wideouts with some potential.
  • Joe Mixon and Gio Bernard give him plenty to work with at running back.
  • He has a new Left Tackle in Cordy Glen.
  • He has a new center in Billy Price.
  • He's free of the albatross that hung around Paul Alexander's neck and helped spell doom for Ken Zampese: Russel Bodine.
  • The offense was so bad last year they have nowhere to go but up.
There are plenty of negatives, too, which I need not list here as everyone here can recite by rote. Nevertheless this gives us something to kick around this season. The first preseason game of 2018 should be underway as I type, so it kind-of starts now.
" Bell-cow quarterbacks are like queen bees. Only one can take you to the land of milk and honey."
~ What Mike Brown never quite said, but should have.

Joined: November 25th, 2007, 12:30 am

September 14th, 2018, 4:17 am #10

2018 Season, Week 1: The Bungs offense scores 17 points in the second half after scoring 10 in the first half against the Colts. Mission accomplished. That's what they lacked in 2017.

Week 2: The Bungs offense only scores 6 points in the second half after scoring 28(!) in the first half against the Ravens. And one of those second half field goals was set-up by a turnover deep in Ravens territory. The defense helped some in the first half, too, but that doesn't change how sorry the offense looked in the second half. Mission not accomplished, even though they won. A couple of half-way decent drives in the third quarter, and the game never gets close.
" Bell-cow quarterbacks are like queen bees. Only one can take you to the land of milk and honey."
~ What Mike Brown never quite said, but should have.

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