Following a 6-9-1 season in 2016, you would think a 0-2 start in 2017 wouldn’t be making headlines, or be a cause for concern for said team. That statement clearly doesn’t apply for the Cincinnati Bengals, or their fans.
2016 was a disappointing, to say the least, campaign for the Bengals. A season in which they went 6-9-1 they couldn’t find any consistency within their offensive unit, which is ultimately what hampered them throughout last season. Losing their top target, All-Pro A.J Green to a torn hamstring in the home stretch of the season only made matters worse. He was healthy enough to play in the last two games if they were still in contention, but the Bengals decided to keep him sidelined and let him prep for the 2017 season.
The Bengals have started off UGLY this season, with two embarrassing losses. Their offense is a complete mess. They seem to have no rhythm, flow, or identity. The front office saw that too, which lead to the firing of Offensive Coordinator Ken Zampese, whom will be replaced by Quarterbacks Coach Bill Lazor. The Bengals have put up 9 points in their first two games, and have yet to score a touchdown this season. They were blanked by the Ravens in their home opener in Week 1, and only managed to muster up three field goals against the Texans in Week 2 on Thursday Night Football.
Now to be fair, the Ravens and Texans are arguably two of the top defenses in the NFL, however, Cincinnati is supposed to have their “elite duo” in Andy Dalton and A.J Green, and they are completely M.I.A this season. Dalton on the season has 394 passing yards, 0 touchdowns, and four interceptions. Meanwhile, Green has just 10 receptions for 141 yards so far this year.
For an “Elite Duo” that they are being touted as, and the duo that is supposed to carry Cincinnati to the Promised Land, they aren’t playing as such. On the other hand, the offensive line play has been dismal, at best, as they’ve given up EIGHT sacks in just two games as well as having allowed numerous pressures and pass deflections.
The biggest concern on the Bengals roster right now is that offensive line. They lost All-Pro, Team Captain, and Blindside Protector Andrew Whitworth, and guard Kevin Zeitler, who were both integral pieces to keeping Andy Dalton upright. They were also essential in creating running lanes for Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard for the last few seasons. The Bengals are now forced to rely on Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher as their bookend offensive tackles, and so far they are not faring well at all.
Clearly, the front office thought that Ogbuehi and Fisher would suffice at their respective positions, as they used their first two picks in this years NFL Draft to get playmakers instead of shoring up the trenches. Mr. 4.22 himself, wide receiver John Ross in the first Round, and character questioned but supremely talented running back Joe Mixon in the 2nd Round. Yes, it is Week 2, but both have noticeably under performed so far. But then again, who hasn’t underperformed on this offense so far?
The Bengals are used to regular season success: before the 2016 season, they had made the playoffs for 5 consecutive seasons, however, never getting past the first round of the playoffs. The inability to get over the hump had people already questioning the Bengals core, and coaching staff; now this bad start for a second straight season definitely isn’t doing them any good. The Bengals need to look themselves in the mirror and figure out their offensive issues. If they don’t, trio of Dalton, Green, and Head Coach Marvin Lewis surely won’t be intact next season.