In this week's "Thought of the Day," we offered our community a chance to be offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals (2-2). We asked if the reigning division champs should be a run-first or pass-first team?
Here were the responses from our AFC North inbox:
Ryan from Indianapolis writes: The Bengals must run the ball first. Last season, one of the best they have had in a long time, the team was built on a strong run game. That same strong running game led into the play action passes. The Bengals are blinded by the new weapons at wide out. They need to get back to smash-mouth football, like the rest of the AFC North, to have a chance at the division again.
Sam from Danville writes: The Bengals should be a pass-first team. More passing plays mean more looks at each high-profile receiver, so it's less chance for a diva meltdown. Carson Palmer was effective in his three-step routes and quick passing game against the Browns. Once the passing game has the defense on its heels, hand the ball to Cedric Benson and let him loose.
Jack E. from Columbus, Ohio, writes: I think that the Bengals need to adopt the run-first mentality. This will mesh the best with what Bob Bratkowski wants to do as an OC, as well. He wants to get the ball down the field when passing and wants to have timing routes. The best way to get the ball downfield and have those timing routes is by running the ball decisively and mixing in some great play-action plays.
Rey from Cincinnati writes: Easy answer: The Bengals should be a passing team. It best fits their personnel, particularly in the no-huddle. And the fact that they aren't using the no-huddle much more, especially early on, or are making excuses not to use it such as it limits what they can do overall, is a travesty! Classic out-coaching themselves.
Jon from Phoenix writes: As a Bengals fan, I'm in disbelief that we're not scoring more points with the talent we have on offense. I think we need to throw deep more early in the games before we fall behind, which seems to have been the only way we have passed thus far this year.
Beej from Iowa City, Iowa, writes: The Bengals definitely need to go back to the run game, control the clock and give an outstanding defense a rest. I know we acquired a ton of offensive weapons in the passing game, but unfortunately Carson Palmer isn't able to elevate them to an elite passing team. Run the ball and open up the passing game, making it easier on Palmer and his weapons more deadly when used.
Josh from Louisville writes: I don't think that the Bengals can be either a run-first or a pass-first offense. The issue is not weapons or Carson Palmer, it is the offensive line. Nate Livings makes too many mental errors, Dennis Roland looks lost and overmatched in pass protection and is not moving anyone in the run game. Bobby Williams has never been a strong pass blocker and Kyle Cook has not been doing the job of creating passing lanes. Last year, the Bengals used weighted lines to make the run game go, but teams have adjusted.
Brandon from Sardinia, Ohio, writes: Run the ball. It worked last year and the Steelers have been doing it for years. That's AFC North Football. Also use Jermaine Gresham. He's a big target but they never seem to run him deep over the middle in three-receiver sets or in the red zone. He's got the talent and it's up to the Bengals not to waste it.
AFC North final say
James Walker: This is a tough one. The Bengals proved they can win last year pounding the football. But if they truly want to reach their potential this season and make a run in the playoffs, Cincinnati has to pass the ball with efficiency and use its talent at receiver and tight end. The no-huddle will help, because it keeps defensive personnel on the field -- usually a base defense -- which favors Cincinnati's passing game. The Bengals will have plenty of opportunities to run the ball late in the year when weather plays a factor and against division foes. But overall, it's time for Cincinnati to utilize all those explosive weapons in the passing game while it can.