Bengals Potential Breakout Candidates

(AP Photo/Gary Landers)

At this point, we know what we’re going to be getting from him. Dalton will not carry or elevate a team, however, when surrounded with pieces, he is more than capable of playing well above average and leading the team to wins.

Well, now Andy has his weapons and a brand-spankin’ new offense and coaching staff.

A 7x time Pro Bowl receiver in A.J. Green, breakout receiver Tyler Boyd who is coming off his first 1,000 yard season, the 40 yard dash record holder in John Ross, former single-season 13 touchdown reception tight end Tyler Eifert, and Joe Mixon who just let the AFC in rushing yards is what Dalton has to work within 2019. Not bad.

And now that Zac Taylor has come along and they’ve begun to form a bond, Dalton gets arguably the best play-caller he has ever had in his career. All in an offense designed to maximize Dalton’s effectiveness and decrease the risk of mistakes.

With a back like Mixon who can control the clock and manage the pace of the game, Cincinnati will be able to run a quick play-action offense.

But perhaps the biggest factor in Dalton’s play is keeping him clean in the pocket. Ever since Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler departed in the same free agency in 2017, the Bengals offensive line has never been the same.

Now times have changed and the o-line is once again on the upswing after the selection of top tackle prospect, Jonah Williams.

With an improved offensive line, a deep backfield, and a rejuvenated receiving core, Dalton should thrive in Zac Taylor’s offense.

Carl Lawson

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Lawson is best known for his breakout rookie campaign as he led all rookies in 2017 in sacks, with 8.5.

After tearing his ACL in week 8 of 2018, Lawson could come back better than ever in 2019.

Lawson will be injury-free, and free of Marvin Lewis’ reign of underplaying the young guys. Now that the Bengals have a new coaching staff and Michael Johnson is no longer with the team, Lawson will see more playing time than he ever has.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) has also taken notice of Lawson’s breakout potential, as writer and analyst Mark Chichester had this to say:

…he still ended the year with 59 total quarterback pressures — a figure that is still tied with Joey Bosa for the third-best mark ever recorded by a first-year player at the position. Among the 46 edge defenders in the PFF era (2006 – present) who logged least 300 pass-rushing snaps in their rookie seasons, Lawson’s rookie pass-rush win rate of 18.5% ranks second, his pressure rate of 16.3% ranks third and his 17.3 snaps played per knockdown ranks seventh.

With Lawson being at full strength, his third year could go phenomenal, especially lining up alongside Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap.

John Ross

 (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

What a ride it’s been for the 2017 first round pick, John Ross so far in the NFL. But not one a 9th overall selection would be hoping for. From only playing 17 snaps in a disastrous rookie season to being brought up in trade talks, Ross is ready for his big break.

“I felt like my year one was last year because I played 17 plays my first year,” Ross said. “It was just get in there and run around a little bit. Last year I got a lot of reps and got good experience. It is almost like I got a redshirt year. I got the gist of things and now I know what to look for.”

Luckily for Ross, he may have just found his way out of NFL hell. Ross got strong praise from OTAs, and now he’s gearing up for a breakout season under Head Coach, Zac Taylor, whose system fits Ross perfectly.

“I love it,” Ross said recently, per Michael LaPlaca of the team’s official site. “I think it will play to all of our strengths. We all complement each other really well in a way that will be hard to defend with everyone on the field.”

Ross can be used in various ways in Zac Taylor’s offense. Screens, trick plays, and play action are just the tip of the iceberg when getting creative with Ross. In space, Ross is an effective route runner, who can create meaningful separation for himself and other receivers, and no to mention we’ve seen him with the ball out in the open and we’ve seen him in a contested-catch situation. Defenses have no choice but to fear Ross’ deep speed, and when an effective running game is set up, it makes Ross even more deadly.

The formula for success is all there for Ross, and fellow wideout, Tyler Boyd, who had a breakout year himself last season with a 1,000-yard campaign believes so as well.

“With John he’s still thinking,” Boyd said, via the team’s official website. “He’s thinking and then he reacts. I feel like once he gets comfortable and makes plays he’ll be fine. He’s just got to cut it loose. He’s a great player. He runs his routes clean and he’s the fastest guy in the league. Once it comes to him and he can just react, it’ll be like a hot knife through butter.”

And this next quote from Ross himself almost seems to fit perfectly with what Tyler Boyd had to say

“I think that’s the message from everyone on the team, the coaches, the training staff – ‘just be you, run fast and have fun,’” Ross said after Tuesday’s practice. “When I’m having fun, I’m a completely different person than the uptight person I’ve been the last two years, overthinking and letting things get to me that I shouldn’t. I’m having fun out there, and I probably had one of the best weeks of my life at OTAs last week. I just need to keep having fun, flying around and making plays.”

John Ross seems to be happy and relaxed at camp and is ready to burn defenders on the football field in Zac Taylor’s new interactive offense.

Tyler Eifert

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

If it weren’t for uncertainty around his health, Eifert would still be considered one of the game’s top tight ends. The former Touchdown reception leader in 2015 (13) has made a home in both the endzone and on the sideline due to repetitive injuries over his NFL career. Despite his predictable absences each season, when he is on the field, it is noticed by defenses and Andy Dalton. Eifert’s impact in the middle of the field and in the red zone go unappreciated most of the time. Opening up space and creating miss-matches for other teammates is an underrated art in the league. And Eifert is capable of handling those duties. Despite being battered and bruised, Eifert is sneakily athletic which will fit well for Zac Taylor’s offense. Tyler Eifert has the makings for a breakout year in 2019 as the teams top redzone target aside from A.J. Green.

About Chris_bengalscentre 29 Articles
Bengals/NFL writer

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