While it’s not clear quarterback Andy Dalton can carry a team on his back for a long stretch of the season like a Ben Roethlisberger, Dalton thrived in 2015 when he was surrounded by great talent.
Last year he took a step back as his supporting cast was far less complete, which leads to the conclusion the offense around him essentially has to be “too big to fail” as long as Dalton is the Bengals quarterback.
The weapons Dalton has at his disposal are fine – especially when Tyler Eifert and A.J. Green are healthy – but he could use more.
If the Bengals pick Fournette, they will have a classic power back with breakaway speed – a more talented Jeremy Hill, basically. With both in the fold, they’ll most likely be inclined to rely on a classic NFL pro-style, downhill running game. I love that style, but the offensive line might not be up for it after struggling last season and losing its two best players in free agency.
That means instead of a second power back, the Bengals might be better off adding another Giovani Bernard.
That, to me, is who McCaffrey is: Big enough to run between the tackles on occasion but more suited to operate in space. A shifty back who can catch passes and do a little bit of everything.
With more space players, the Bengals can spread things out and give Dalton easier decisions and easier throws to execute, though he’ll have execute them at a high level.
That may or may not work, but the likelihood it does probably exceed the chances for success of a power attack if Cincinnati still doesn’t have a road-grading offensive line this fall.
READ MORE at Marcus Hartman’s “Cus Words Blog”
There was a time the AFC North was known as defense-and-run-the-ball division, but we’ve already seen Pittsburgh and Baltimore shift away from that, surrounding their veteran quarterbacks with perimeter playmakers and attacking that way.
Maybe now it’s time for Cincinnati to follow suit.