Cincinnati Bengals fans who saw running back Giovani Bernard with the ball in his hands last year probably thought the rookie couldn’t get any quicker, but that’s the goal this year.
Not just for Bernard, but the entire offense under first-year coordinator Hue Jackson, whose aim is to increase the intensity and pick up the pace.
“I think coming into this year under Hue, it’s going to be a much more explosive offense,” Bernard said “I think the tempo is going to be picked up a lot. Practice is going to be a lot more running around, little bit crazier, but obviously organized.”
The Bengals will get a better look at Jackson in action — as coordinator, at least — next week when Phase III of the voluntary offseason workout program begins with OTAs and a Tuesday morning practice at Paul Brown Stadium.
Jackson was the Bengals defensive backs and special teams coach in 2012 and the running backs coach in 2013 before being promoted to offensive coordinator in January when Jay Gruden left to become the head coach in Washington.
But while the role may be new, the players expect the same Jackson.
“Hue’s an intense guy,” left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “His thing is intensity, and playing up-tempo and fast. So yeah, it’s going to be a little bit different style than what we’ve done in the past. I think guys are excited about it and embrace it. It’s a fun way to play.”
Jackson’s offenses during his two years in Oakland (one as coordinator, one as head coach) were defined by physicality, which is a trademark he plans to tattoo on this squad as well. Selecting power back Jeremy Hill in the second round of the draft illustrates that intent.
But the offense will be more than just hit ’em hard, hit ’em fast.
Look for Jackson to explore his creative side as well with multiple formations and interchangeable personnel.
Bernard said he lined up in the slot “probably like 15” times last year, but he should see a lot more of it — as well as lining up wide — this year in the hope of getting him the ball in space, where he is at his ankle-breaking best.
“Whatever it is, if I have the ball in my hands, if I get the ball, I’m always happy … to be able to make a play no matter where it’s from, no matter if it’s in the backfield or if it’s out wide,” said Bernard, who ranked second on the team in rushes and receptions last year and first in total touches.
“It’s definitely a fun offense, and I’m really excited for it,” Bernard added.
So, too, is quarterback Andy Dalton.
“I’ve talked to Hue a lot,” Dalton said. “I’m excited for the passion he’s going to bring to this team and this offense. There’s a lot of good stuff that we are going to be doing with Hue.”