CINCINNATI -- Offensive coordinators always preach balance.
To them, balance often is the hallmark of a good scheme. It's a way to keep an opposing defense on its toes, forcing it to be wary of multiple ways it can be attacked.
Naturally, an offense still wants to maintain an identity. If the team features a power-running scheme like the Cincinnati Bengals, it wants to be able to move the ball down the field on the ground, but it also wants to pass often enough that defenses don't fill the box with run-stoppers on every down. The same goes for a team that has a passing identity. It, too, wants to mix in timely runs to expose a defense that starts pushing too many cover players downfield.
How balanced were the Bengals last season?
They were about as balanced as an offense can be.
According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Bengals ran the ball 492 times and passed on 503 plays in 2014. Overall, their quarterbacks dropped back 545 times, the fewest amount of dropbacks Bengals signal-callers have had in a single season since 2009.
When factoring in only the rushing plays and pass attempts, the Bengals ran 49.4 percent of the time this past season. They therefore passed 50.6 percent of the time. That's the closest semblance of balance the organization has had offensively since 2009, when Cincinnati rushed 51.4 percent of the time.
It's also worth noting that 2009 was the only season the Bengals ran (505) more times than they attempted to pass (477) during Marvin Lewis' 12-year tenure as Cincinnati's head coach.
Perhaps that changes in 2015.
With more confidence in Jeremy Hill, the Bengals could lean on the young back a little more in his second season. The Bengals can also reasonable expect third-year back Giovani Bernard to have fewer health issues this season and be more of a contributor in the ground game than last year.
Lewis also has made it clear the Bengals would like to figure out ways to get backup rusher Rex Burkhead more involved, too. It's likely that Burkhead's role increases more in the passing game than in Cincinnati's ground attack, but he ought to also play a role in expanding the team's rushing efforts.
Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson hasn't shied away before from having a balanced system that slightly favors the run. When he ran the Oakland Raiders' offense in 2010, his players carried the ball 50.7 percent of the time. A year later, when he was head coach, the Raiders' balance tilted toward passing, as they attempted to gain yards in the air on 52.9 percent of qualifying plays.
With help from ESPN Stats & Information, here's a quick look at how the Bengals' offensive balance has changed the last six seasons:
2014 (Hue Jackson offensive coordinator): 49.4 percent run, 50.6 percent pass
2013 (Jay Gruden offensive coordinator): 45.0 percent run, 55.0 percent pass
2012 (Gruden offensive coordinator): 44.3 percent run, 55.7 percent pass
2011 (Gruden offensive coordinator): 46.0 percent run, 54.0 percent pass
2010 (Bob Bratkowski offensive coordinator): 42.0 percent run, 58.0 percent pass
2009 (Bratkowski offensive coordinator): 51.4 percent run, 48.6 percent pass