Recency bias is a real thing. People have a definite tendency to magnify the most recent events, and to repress what has happened in the more distant past. It can go in various directions, whether positive or negative, and it can have an affect on the way things are perceived.
Take the 2017 Bengals offense as a perfect example. Despite having some big time playmakers, including wide receiver A.J. Green, tight end Tyler Eifert, and runnings back Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, the Bengals simply couldn’t get their offense going. In fact, they were the absolute worst offense in the entire NFL, only averaging a measly 280.5 total yards per game.
Andy Dalton’s struggles were a big reason for the team’s lackluster offensive output. Dalton took a big step back last season, when he passed for just 3,320 yards on a 59.9 percent completion rate. For comparison, in 2016 he threw for 4,206 yards, completing 64.7 percent of his attempts.
But the 2018 season brings a lot of optimism for several reasons. The Bengals secondary receivers appear ready to step up opposite A.J. Green, who is an annual (near) lock to reach 1,000 yards. And if he gets some helps from his teammates to attract some of the defensive attention, he could have a monster season. Receivers Tyler Boyd and John Ross have apparently both looked sharp this training camp. The former actually caught a touchdown pass in the first preseason game.
Meanwhile, tight end Tyler Eifert comes into the season with a clean bill of health, and he appears ready to reclaim his role as the Bengals’ premier red zone threat. With all of these pieces coming together, it’s easy to see why expectations should be elevated for Dalton ahead of the regular season.
And then there is the development of second year running back Joe Mixon, who looks ready to take on a workhorse role, particularly in the absence of Jeremy Hill, who is now a member of the New England Patriots. Mixon possesses high-end running abilities, and he has the physical skill-set to become a team’s bellcow back.
In the Bengals first preseason game against the Chicago Bears, Dalton looked very sharp. He completed six of his eight pass attempts for 103 yards and two touchdowns, with a staggering 12.9 yards per attempt clip. A.J. Green showed his impressive skills as usual, catching both of his intended targets for 48 yards. His receptions went for 26 and 22 yards, respectively, which is very promising for the entire offense.
The highly capable Mixon only received three carries on the night, which he turned into an underwhelming nine yards, but it was very encouraging to see him get a target in the passing game. He turned his lone target into a 24-yard touchdown reception. Hopefully Cincinnati begins to utilize him more in the same way. If they opt to do that, rather than insert Bernard for their passing plays, opposing defenses will have a much more difficult time deciphering the Bengals’ play calls.
If the first preseason game is any indication, the 2018 Bengals offense could be one of the top units in the NFL.