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Dayton Article on Offense

Offense balanced, experienced

Expectations high with all 11 starters back from 8-8 team

By Chick Ludwig

Dayton Daily News

Quarterback Carson Palmer can see it now.

Four wideouts, lined up in a spread formation, burst off the line of scrimmage and race downfield. Palmer drops back, firing strikes to Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Peter Warrick and Kelley Washington, as the scoreboard lights flash like a pinball machine.

Touchdown, Bengals.

After piling up points and building leads with the quick-strike passing game, tailback Rudi Johnson takes over, moving the chains and milking the clock with his bruising style.

"We have a chance to be a very good offense, but we're a ways away from that," Palmer said Friday as minicamp kicked off at Paul Brown Stadium. "We have to put in a lot of work and sweat to get there. It's exciting, but every team's offense looks exciting right now. It depends on how well you jell and come together in training camp so you can get to the season with momentum."

With all 11 starters returning, big things are expected from the veteran-laden offense. But expectations and accomplishments are different animals.

"We haven't done anything yet," offensive tackle Willie Anderson said. "When we get an offense that puts this team in the playoffs, then maybe we can look up a little but. Until then, we have to keep our shovel in the dirt and keep digging out of this hole. We can't make comments in the newspaper like, 'Carson's a savior. He's done it.' Because we haven't done it for a complete season yet.

"The star quarterbacks in the league understand that teams set their whole offseason up figuring out ways to stop good players. The key's going to be how well the offensive line performs.

If we can get the running game going — even if the passing game's not working — good things will happen. This offense is set up to run first. If we don't run or have the illusion that we're capable of running, the offense can't work."

Chad Johnson disagrees.

"You can't stop everybody," he said. "If you stop the run, we'll beat you with the pass. If you stop the pass, we'll beat you with the run. We're balanced across the board, so there is no weakness offensively right now. What can (a defense) do? It's up to us to come out on all cylinders and kick it."

As part of head coach Marvin Lewis' fast-start philosophy, the Bengals visited Kentucky Speedway on Thursday, where the players took high-speed ride-alongs with stock car drivers David Green and Clint Boyer.

"A driver talked about that wheel falling off the car and the whole team loses, including the driver," Johnson said. "That's exactly how it relates to us. The offense, we're like that car. If one of the 11 wheels fall off, we all lose.

"All 11 people have to be in sync. That's what it's all about. You can be the best offense on paper and go out there and stink it up on the field. It's about all 11 of us doing everything the right way. That's when the success comes in."

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If we can get the running game going — even if the passing game's not working — good things will happen. This offense is set up to run first.

Uhhh, Willie, have you been paying attention lately? This offense was set up to run first...until Brat came in, poop-canned the old WCO-based playbook and rebuilt the Bengals as a downfield passing team in the Don Coryell mode. Try to keep up, willya?

As for the theory that "good things will happen" if we can run but can't pass: all I can ask is, what are you smokin'? We had a running game and no passing game for most of the last 15 years. That worked out real well, didn't it? In fact, the only times during the Lost Decade-Plus that "good things" started to happen was when the Bengals had a decent passer (the half-season return of Boomer, Blake's brief ride just before that, and Kitna's "comeback player" year).

Carson and Chad are dead on. Call it the "Pinball Wizard" offense: light 'em up early and often, build a lead, then hand the ball to Rudi and grind out the clock.

Can someone get Willie up to speed? ;)

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At least I'm not the only one who noticed that. I don't know what the actual stats were last year, but I thought they came out in the first and second series of the games with a "pass to set up the run" mentality. Toss it to Chad or TJ on a short crossing route or hook to get 7-9 yds and let Rudi pound it to get the first, therefore not allowing the first drive to be a 3 and out.

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