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Jay Gruden: Bengals' offense must take 'major' steps

  • By Kevin Patra
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The Cincinnati Bengals have become a trendy offseason pick to win the AFC North.

One reason behind the optimism is the potential for the Bengals' offense to return all of its starters to go along with rookies tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard.

Take a look as teams get back to work in the offseason.

Coordinator Jay Gruden is feeling the expectations.

The offensive unit needs to take "major, major, major steps in the right direction moving forward," Gruden said Thursday, per the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Whether or not the Bengals' offense can make the triple-major improvement hinges greatly on quarterback Andy Dalton's progress.

"Andy has gotten a lot of reps," Gruden said. "He's working through some things, and it is only his third year. We're going back to basics but throwing a lot at him. We're happy with the progress the offense has made."

Dalton was ranked No. 9 in Gregg Rosenthal's top 10 quarterbacks under 25 series, with Rosenthal citing Dalton's troubles getting the ball out of his hands as one reason he wasn't higher on the list.

The pieces added around Dalton should allow him to avoid the "Is A.J. Green covered?" one-and-done reads this season.

At least one -- if not all -- of those "majors" Gruden uttered was directed at Dalton. Gruden knows his offense will be as good as his quarterback makes it.

Follow Kevin Patra on Twitter @kpatra.