The Cincinnati Bengals are beginning a new era of their team’s history under Zac Taylor. Taylor replaces Marvin Lewis who spent 16 seasons as the head coach in Cincinnati.
During the 16 years with Lewis as head coach, the team made the playoffs seven times but failed to win any of their playoff games. As a result, Taylor is hoping to turn things around for the Bengals over the next few seasons.
This offseason though will be an important one as the offense learns a new system under Brian Callahan. Undoubtedly, Taylor will also have his hand in the offense as well. After all, he comes from the Sean McVay coaching tree and has an idea of how an offense can be successful in the NFL.
As for the defense, they’ll be learning a slightly new defense under Lou Anarumo. Anarumo figures to run a base 4-3 defense but could add different wrinkles this offseason to appease to certain players.
Training camps begin in a couple of weeks and for a few players, it will mean more than others. Here are three players with the most to gain during in training camp for the Bengals.
3. Jordan Willis
This offseason, the Bengals lost Michael Johnson at defensive end and Johnson is still sitting in free agency. Nonetheless, either Jordan Willis or Carl Lawson is expected to replace the longtime defensive end of the Bengals in Johnson.
Currently, Willis is slated to start at right defensive end while Carlos Dunlap returns at the left defensive end spot. Lawson is still recovering from a torn ACL in 2018 and he may not be ready to go yet during training camp.
Therefore, Willis has an opportunity to secure the starting spot with an impressive showing during training camps. Willis is entering his third season with the team after being drafted 73rd overall in the 2017 NFL Draft.
In his two seasons thus far, Willis has just two sacks and eight tackles for loss. Now, Willis has the opportunity to be a premier pass rusher for the Bengals in 2019 if he can impress in training camp.
2. John Ross
John Ross has already been labeled a bust in his career since being drafted ninth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. In his two seasons, Ross has struggled to find his role on the team.
The Bengals speedy wideout has totaled just 21 receptions, 210 yards, and seven touchdowns in his career. Although, all of those stats came last season after Ross was nowhere to be found during his rookie season in 2017.
Now, Ross is even changing his jersey number in hopes to start fresh with the Bengals. With Taylor coming in as the head coach, Ross will seemingly get another chance to prove himself capable of being a weapon in the offense.
The journey to hitting the reset button begins in training camp for Ross who will need to impress to secure the slot receiver spot. A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd are locked in at the first two receiver spots—leaving the slot position open. If Ross disappoints again, Alex Erickson could cement himself as the slot receiver while Ross watches from the sideline.
1. Andy Dalton
Andy Dalton is purely number one on the list because he will need training camp to fully grasp the new offense under Callahan. While with the Bengals, Dalton has gone through six offensive coordintors—including Callahan this year.
Therefore, Dalton knows how much work goes into learning a new offense as he’s had to learn new offensive schemes quite a few times. Although, it helps to have an offensive-minded coach like Taylor to help him alongside Callahan.
The past two seasons, Dalton performed at an average level in Bill Lazor’s West-Coast offensive scheme. An injury in 2018 caused the quarterback to miss five games though—limiting his chances of excelling last season.
This season, Callahan brings his version of the West-Coast offense to Cincinnati. At the least, Dalton has probably seen multiple variations of what Callahan is bringing in. During training camp, Dalton will need to take the reins of the offense and step up his play from under center.