Cincinnati Bengals Could Benefit from the Pistol Offense

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | It comes as no surprise that the Cincinnati Bengals struggled on the offensive side of the ball last season. Their offense finished a mere 22nd overall in total yards.

In fact, the entire AFC North struggled in that department. The Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns finished 16th, 21st and 25th, respectively (via ESPN.com).

So, what could give the Bengals offense a boost to put them over the top? The pistol offense.

First, let's squash an urban myth of sorts about the pistol offense. A team does not need a "rushing quarterback" to make this type of offense successful. This is just a trend that has been made popular by Colin Kaepernick and the San Francisco 49ers offense.

Kaepernick does run the pistol in San Francisco, but it is a read-option version of that offensive scheme. A pistol offense does not require a mobile quarterback.

In reality, a quarterback with limited mobility can flourish in this type of offense.

So, what is the pistol offense?

The pistol is a hybrid between the shotgun and the I-formation. The quarterback lines up four yards behind the center, and the running back lines up three yards behind the quarterback (in position that a quarterback would normally be in the shotgun formation).

Here is the advantage. The quarterback remains close enough to the line of scrimmage to be able to read the defense as effectively as he would while in the I-formation, but far enough back to allow him to see the entire field and the routes of his receivers like the shotgun formation.

It's the best of both worlds.

Andy Dalton has struggled over his early NFL career with releasing the football on time. He has a tendency to hang on to it for too long, which results in too many sacks taken.

The pistol would allow him a clean look at the defense so he could make a quick decision to either hand the ball to his running back, or drop back and survey the field to find an open receiver.

The new personnel that the Bengals brought in over the offseason only increase the chances for success with the pistol offense.

Giovani Bernard has the ability to line up all over the field. He can take the exchange from the backfield, slide outside for a screen or swing pass, or motion out wide as a receiver.

Tyler Eifert also brings the possibility of a two-tight end set -- a formation that can be combined with the pistol offense. With two tight ends in the formation and Orson Charles in the H-back position, the offense will immediately create mismatches out of this formation.

Do the Bengals need to run every play out of the pistol? Absolutely not. However, mixing this offensive scheme into their already expanding playbook could only benefit this offense.

It is one thing to have the personnel to make an offense explosive. However, the right scheme is needed to make the possibility of a dangerous offense come to fruition.

Sean O'Donnell is a contributor for Yahoo! Sports and a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the co-host of the Bengals Central podcast on the Pro Football Central radio network. You can follow him on Twitter: @SeanODonnellNFL

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