CINCINNATI (AP) — Andy Dalton is getting acclimated with the Cincinnati Bengals’ new offense, which is a lot different than the one that finished last in the league.
He hasn’t had to learn so much since his rookie season.
“The way we’re going to be calling things, the way we’re going to be doing things — it’s all going to be different,” Dalton said Monday. “There’s not much that’s the same.”
The Bengals had one of the worst offenses in franchise history last season, finishing last in the NFL in yards and time of possession and tied for last in first downs. The rushing game was the worst in club history, averaging 85.4 yards.
Bill Lazor was elevated to offensive coordinator after an 0-2 start, replacing Ken Zampese. He had to stick with the system in place, one that’s been tweaked in the past decade under coordinators Jay Gruden, Hue Jackson and Zampese. The Bengals decided to keep him as coordinator and gave him more latitude to make changes in the offseason.
“What we were doing before was basically Jay’s offense with the adaptation of Hue — he put his stuff on it,” said Dalton, entering his eighth season. “Then (Zampese) took over and did his thing. Now we’re starting from square one. This is all new.”
The redesign is a focus as the Bengals open their offseason activities. They’ve kept the core of the unit intact, even signing tight end Tyler Eifert to another deal as he recovers from back surgery. The line was the biggest part of the problems last season, and the Bengals acquired left tackle Cordy Glenn from Buffalo as an upgrade.
They’re likely to look for more help for the line early in the draft later this month.
The offense was ineffective even though Dalton and receiver A.J. Green were healthy throughout the season. Lazor made subtle changes as the season went along, but they weren’t enough to make much of a difference, given the line’s struggles.
Eifert was one of their biggest questions heading into free agency. The first-round pick from Notre Dame in 2013 has been one of Dalton’s favorite targets when he’s not hurt. Eifert played only one game in 2014, eight in 2016 and two last season, when he suffered another back injury and had another procedure.
He set a club record for tight ends with 13 touchdown catches in 2015, but has only five in the past two seasons combined. The Bengals offered him a one-year deal loaded with incentives. Eifert said on Monday that his back has healed and he has few restrictions on his workouts.
He wanted to stay in Cincinnati but wasn’t sure whether the Bengals wanted to keep him or move onto someone else, given his history of injuries to his back, shoulder, ankle and elbow.
“I’m obviously in a unique situation with the amount of games I’ve missed,” Eifert said. “With the injuries and everything, I didn’t really know what was going to happen. But this is where I wanted to be and where I want to be playing.”
Eifert has a new look, letting his curly hair grow into a mullet. He’s got the sides cut short to accentuate the back.
“That’s what I had in college, the hair out the helmet,” Eifert said. “I mean, it’s swaggy. It’s a good look. I never got hurt in college, I had long hair. I’m going to let it go.”
MAKING AN IMPRESION
Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett is in a group of more than 40 local players invited for the team’s annual workout on Tuesday at Paul Brown Stadium, hoping to make an impression heading into the draft next week.
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