There’s been a steady stream of feel-good stories coming out of Cincinnati. Everyone seems to agree the offense will be more fun and dynamic under Zac Taylor. Such things, of course, are always easier to say in the offense (when the offense hasn’t gone 5-6 games in a row without scoring more than 17 points).
But there is some chance that Taylor could make some noteworthy changes, and the group should benefit from improved offensive line play. They’ve also got some injured players back – Andy Dalton, A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert.
The Bengals selected John Ross with the 9th pick of the draft in 2017, and it would be nice if they could get more out of him. He’s caught only 21 passes in his first two seasons.
Ross ran a record 4.24 at the combine, but they haven’t been able to get him going as a deep threat. They instead used him on mostly short, quick throws last year (he averaged only 10.0 yards per catch).
Ross says he feels energized by the coaching change. He says for the first time as a pro, he feels confident and is enjoying himself. “I think that's the message from everyone on the team, the coaches, the training staff – ‘just be you, run fast and have fun,’ ” Ross said in an article written by Laurel Pfahler of WCPO. “When I'm having fun, I'm a completely different person than the up-tight person I've been the last two years, overthinking and letting things get to me that I shouldn't.”
The article correctly points out that another young receiver on this roster, Tyler Boyd, looked like a bust after his first two years. Boyd in his third year emerged to catch 76 passes and 7 TDs. Boyd says he thinks Ross can do the same thing.
“He needs to just believe in himself, gamble on himself and don't think,” Boyd says. “I'd say, 'It's you. You know your ability. You're the fastest guy in the NFL.' You can't beat that. I wish I had that, just being able to be the best in something. His routes are clean. He has good hands. He's just got to trust in himself.”
In my eyes, Ross is worth a late-round game in a typical 12-team league. There’s still some chance that he could turn things around and be a viable player. Not a guy, however, that anybody can draft with confidence of him being a reliable producer.
If Ross is able to get things going, it will be a remarkable turnaround. His numbers last year were almost unbelievably bad. He caught only 21 of the 58 passes thrown his way, and for just 210 yards. That works out to 3.6 yards per pass play. That ranks as the 2nd-worst by any wide receiver with at least 50 targets in the last 10 years.
|RECEIVERS AVERAGING UNDER 5 YARDS PER TARGET|
|2011||Eddie Royal, Den.||50||19||155||8.2||1||3.10|
|2018||John Ross, Cin.||58||21||210||10.0||7||3.62|
|2012||Early Doucet, Ariz.||53||28||207||7.4||0||3.91|
|2013||Davone Bess, Cle.||86||42||362||8.6||2||4.21|
|2017||Zay Jones, Buff.||74||27||316||11.7||2||4.27|
|2009||Eddie Royal, Den.||79||37||345||9.3||0||4.37|
|2011||Mike Thomas, Jac.||92||44||415||9.4||1||4.51|
|2010||Laurent Robinson, St.L.||75||34||344||10.1||2||4.59|
|2011||Andre Caldwell, Cin.||68||37||317||8.6||3||4.66|
|2010||Bernard Berrian, Min.||54||28||252||9.0||0||4.67|
|2013||Greg Little, Cle.||99||41||465||11.3||2||4.70|
|2015||Eddie Royal, Chi.||50||37||238||6.4||1||4.76|
|2009||Bryant Johnson, Det.||87||35||417||11.9||3||4.79|
|2016||Tavon Austin, LAR||106||58||509||8.8||3||4.80|
|2013||Darrius Heyward-Bey, Ind.||64||29||309||10.7||1||4.83|
|2018||Jermaine Kearse, NYJ||76||37||371||10.0||1||4.88|
|2011||Jonathan Baldwin, K.C.||52||21||254||12.1||1||4.88|
|2010||Early Doucet, Ariz.||59||26||291||11.2||1||4.93|
|2009||Bobby Wade, K.C.||74||36||367||10.2||2||4.96|
|2009||Chansi Stuckey, NYJ-Cle||64||30||318||10.6||2||4.97|
|2017||Cole Beasley, Dall.||63||36||314||8.7||4||4.98|