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Hue Jackson: Bengals need to run the ball 'in order to win'

Hue Jackson says that the Bengals will be emphasizing the running game now that he is in charge of the offense.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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Hue Jackson will be emphasizing the running game as the offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals. In his introductory press conference, Jackson stressed the ground game, via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"The offense can look different," Jackson said. "At the end of the day it is about creating an opportunity to make our players special. We want to run the football and have talented players on the outside."

The Bengals favored the passing game last season under then-offensive coordinator, now Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. The team rushed the ball on 43.03 percent of their offensive snaps, which falls just below the league average of 43.36 percent despite the fact that the Bengals were an 11-5 team that had the luxury of holding late leads against most of the teams they faced.

The fact that the Bengals finished 27th in the NFL averaging just 3.7 yards per attempt this season may have played into Gruden's slight preference for the passing game. It should be noted that the success of the running game hinged in part on who was carrying the ball, however. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the Bengals' leading rusher with 220 attempts for 756 yards at a rather paltry 3.4 yards per attempt. Giovani Bernard nearly matched Green-Ellis' numbers on 170 attempts, picking up 695 yards at 4.1 yards per carry.

A tendency towards passing didn't necessarily hurt the Bengals. The team finished sixth in scoring and 10th in total yards per game. An emphasis on the ground game could cure some of the team's turnover woes, however. The Bengals' 30 giveaways were the 10th-highest total in the NFL. After watching watching a mercurial Andy Dalton throw 20 interceptions during the regular season, including a combined six during Week 17 and the Bengals' playoff loss to the San Diego Chargers, fans may be ready for an adjustment in offensive philosophy.

Jackson knows fully well what his running backs are capable of, having served as the Bengals' running backs coach last season. There is good reason to believe he will stand by his word when he says he wants the Bengals to be more physical.

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