In marching to the title of "Comeback Carson and the Cardiac Cats" the Cincinnati Bengals’ offense has discovered a valuable, effective tool in their offensive system: the two-minute drill.
While Marvin Lewis and the Bengal brain trust are reticent to install the no-huddle offense for the duration of a game because of the possible detriment it would have on the much-improved Cincinnati defense—leaving them on the field for a longer stretch of time—the risk of lining up and calling the plays on the fly (more plays for the opposition) is worth the reward (a crisper, more effective offense).
Since the Bengals rarely utilize much differentiation at their skill positions—running back Cedric Benson leads the NFL with 127 carries—marching down the field without substitutions is not a major issue for Cincinnati.
However, opponents such as Cincinnati’s week seven opponent the Chicago Bears frequently bring in specialists like cornerback Nathan Vasher for obvious passing situations. With a quickened pace, the Bengals could exploit situations in which a slot receiver is matched up against a safety or linebacker simply because the defense was unable to substitute between plays.
Beyond the confusion created on the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals’ offensive line would see benefits from the hurry-up offense.
With an inexperienced unit—utilizing Andrew Whitworth, a guard for the previous three season of his career, at left tackle and second-year pro Anthony Collins at right tackle—the Bengal offensive front would gain a valuable leg up when the opposition’s pass rushers lose a step in the hurry-up system.
Such an advantage will be especially important in Sunday’s matchup with Tommie Harris, Adewale Ogunleye and the Chicago Bears’ defensive front.
Also, with a smaller interval between plays, Chicago defensive coordinator Bob Babich would be afforded less time to call for blitzes. With fewer pass rushers to worry about, Bengal offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski could utilize four- and five-man pass routes, enabling Carson Palmer to dissect the Bears’ cover-two defense.
Going to a no-huddle system without having their back against the wall would allow the Bengals the proficiency on offense to move towards a different kind of comeback: a victory following their Week Six defeat to Houston.
If nothing else, the exciting style of play will likely keep the cardiologists of Greater Cincinnati busy for another weekend.