Sports Today: Trying to gauge Bill Lazor’s plans for the Bengals offense

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Sports Today: Trying to gauge Bill Lazor’s plans for the Bengals offense

OK, so those of us looking forward to getting a new Cincinnati Bengals coach to learn about and get to know were disappointed this week when Marvin Lewis was retained by Mike Brown and Co., but that doesn’t mean there won’t be anything new going on down on the banks of the Ohio River. 

While we wait to find out who will be Lewis’ defensive coordinator, we got a few tidbits from offensive coordinator Bill Lazor about what he may or may not change now that he’ll be in charge from the jump. 

He wasn’t very forthcoming Wednesday when asked about the stamp he might put on the attack, and it is hard to make much of an educated guess on what he prefers because he’s worked for Joe Gibbs (a Don Coryell disciple) and Mike Holmgren (who learned the West Coast Offense from Bill Walsh, who despite that attack’s name invented it in Cincinnati). 

When Lazor was the offensive coordinator in Miami, the Dolphins were known to spread defenses out and throw it around the yard, though they also had a 1,000-yard rusher in Lamar Miller in 2014. 

I’ve wondered if going spread would fit Andy Dalton, especially after the team drafted John Ross in the first round last spring, but there’s mounting evidence it does not. 

The fewer decisions Dalton has to make the better, so if the personnel fits (big if) the best bet with him still seems to be a more old-school approach of pound the rock and throw it deep.

But maybe Lazor can get something new out of Dalton. In Miami, he oversaw a productive Ryan Tannehill (who’s got more talent but less polish than the Bengals quarterback), but Lazor was also eventually fired amid complaints he was calling too many passes. 

Bengals.com scribe Geoff Hobson got an interesting quote from Lazor as far as the running game: 

“Will we look exactly like we were when I was in Miami? Probably not,” Lazor said. “But aspects of what we were doing with (Washington). Some counter plays pulling the guard and tackle. Not many teams do that. We did in Washington. We did some of that in the last couple of (Bengals) games.”

That’s interesting because in the time since Lazor worked for Gibbs (whose bread and butter was the counter trey) he also worked for Chip Kelly, who is a spread-run guru who leans more heavily on zone runs. 

Guess we’ll start to find out what he might prefer now in the spring…

Ohio State basketball might actually make the NCAA tournament. 

No, I’m not talking about the women’s team led by Kelsey Mitchell. Those Buckeyes entered the season with hopes of playing in the Final Four in front of their hometown crowd, and they are ranked 10th this week. 

I mean the men’s team, which did what the football team could not and controlled Iowa from start to finish in Iowa City last night en route to a 92-81 win. 

They are 3-0 in the Big Ten, which has one great team (Michigan State), one very good team (Purdue) and a bunch of solid-but-beatable squads. 

Ranked 39th at KenPom.com right now, Ohio State has every reason to think it can get back to the Big Dance this season. 

Five players scored in double figures against the Hawkeyes, who fell to 9-8 overall and 0-4 in the Big Ten. 

Keita Bates-Diop continued to remind folks why he was a five-star recruit, posting a double-double with 27 points and 13 rebounds. He also blocked two shots. 

Wayne grad Ahmad Wagner played nine minutes off the bench and did not score for Iowa…  

  

Speaking of women’s basketball, Shauna Green’s Dayton Flyers deserve a shoutout after lighting up the scoreboard last night against Rhode Island. 

Lauren Cannatelli scored 34 points as Dayton dropped 116 points on the Rams, who came up just short with 58 of their own. 

Highlights of Dayton's 116-58 win over Rhode Island

Green’s injury-riddled team is 9-4 on the season and has won its first two games in Atlantic 10 play... 

Meanwhile, the Buckeyes football team continues to make news as there are more reports Urban Meyer is going to add Alex Grinch to his staff

Grinch is the defensive coordinator at Washington State, so this is at best a lateral move, though it makes sense since he is an Ohio native and Meyer is one of the best coach groomers out there. 

Grinch will be working under Greg Schiano for now, but Schiano no doubt holds out hope of being a head coach again sooner or later. He could also jump back to the NFL as that coaching carousel turns this month. 

According to the Seattle Times, Grinch is a 3-4 defense guy (this might be semantics since he has a “rush linebacker,” too) while Ohio State has been a 4-3 since the early 1990s. 

More important: Grinch’s defense is a simple scheme based on utilizing his players’ speed, which should make him a good fit for the personnel in Columbus. 

He also likes to use a lot of pre-snap movement to confuse the offense… 

And then there’s Michigan football. 

The Toledo Blade took a look at the state of Jim Harbaugh’s program headed into what could be a pivotal offseason, and a couple of numbers caught my attention: 

Michigan is 9-8 in its past 17 games, it was outscored 78-26 during the second half of its five losses this season, and the Wolverines are just 4-7 in games decided by a touchdown or less under Harbaugh.

The record in the last 17 is eye-opening by itself, but the record in close games is surprising given that in year one they narrowly escaped Minnesota and Indiana in games that could have drastically changed the look of that season. 

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