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When Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan offered Thursday’s debriefing of what happened on opening day, he made it clear what you saw, what you’re going to get for the rest of the way. .

“It’s part of who we are,” Callahan said after practice as he explained his attempt to become more balanced with the running game.

They self-scrutinize each offseason and the 27-24 overtime win over Minnesota showed just how much they studied and innovated to try to better marry the pass with the run and open the deadly action game of the quarterback. -rear Joe Burrow.

Callahan, the eyes and ears of head coach Zac Taylor in the intricacies of the playbook, said the focus on the shots below the center reflected an offseason of study as well as the hiring of the offensive line coach Frank Pollack.

For the first time in his life last Sunday, Burrow worked under center more than he did out of shotgun training and for the first time in 11 NFL games he threw less than 30 assists (27) while accumulating his best passer rating (128.8).

Callahan doesn’t say they’re giving up the pass. But after getting a 2-10 record in AFC North games throwing almost 100 assists as runs (412-318), they recalibrated and it was clear against the Vikings from member Mike Zimmer. AFC North honorary. Over the past two seasons with their No.1 quarterbacks, the Bengals have never thrown less than 30 assists in a division game.

“There is a part of playing football, especially in AFC North, where you have to be able to be efficient in the running game because you play so good pass rushers and therefore good defenses that if you can’t run the ball and keep yourself down and the distances with efficient runs you’re going to put yourself in danger, ”Callahan said after Thursday’s practice.

“When you have to go back 50, 60 times a game, it’s not necessarily sustainable in our division. There is room for balance… It doesn’t mean you have to handle the ball well. To be a great team. game-action you definitely have to. And the game-action always has more teeth when it’s under center. After looking at all of this stuff in the offseason and Frank as a starting point, what he wanted to do in the racing game matches really well with what we want to do in the passing game. “

The most visible change is placing Burrow below center 53% of the time last Sunday, down from around 20% last season. That prepared him for throwing play passes (he sifted through seven of nine for 96 yards on Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus) a third of the time.

When Pollack returned to work with Callahan and Taylor after being the line coach here last season for Marvin Lewis in 2018, the Bengals turned to one of the NFL’s most respected suppliers in the wide area. Taylor knew he was organically changing his running game and made Pollack the running game coordinator.

“It’s hard to get the ball around in the wide zone without (going under the center) and we are a wide zone team,” Callahan said. “You have your back (running) tied to the front and its footwork and the way the line moves, all of those things, they’re more effective and efficient under center. Your screens, your playing actions and your guardians,


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