First of all, Who Dey!
When the Bengals are playing well and winning, food tastes better, work sucks less. It felt really good to come away with that win on Sunday. It helps that I had a pair of Franklins on the Bengals too. We saw encouraging performances from key players and possibly a new star emerging in the Hungarian Barbarian, Clayton Fejedelem. If you’re not pronouncing his name Fedg-ee-dell-um you’re not living right.
The talent of this team showed, however, the Bengals were significantly out coached, especially on defense. The defense was attacked the same way it has been for years, with RBs and TEs on short middle routes. This strategy exploits the lack of athleticism from the linebackers and negates the talented D line by getting the ball out before they can get to the QB. Luck was excellent at executing the gameplan. Not every QB will be able to do this but unless Austin and Marvin are willing to adjust, we’ll see every good QB do the same. Lets take a look at some specific areas and plays where the coaches need to adjust and improve.
1. The game winning play where Fejedelem forced the fumble
I literally said out loud to my girlfriend before the snap “Hardy Nickerson can’t cover Jack Doyle.” Hardy was lined up directly over him on 3rd and 12 with the game on the line. He got smoked in man coverage and had Fejedelem not popped the ball out it was another easy first down. I like Nickerson but having him cover a TE in that game situation is borderline malpractice. Here’s a list of available players that could have covered Doyle:
Clayton Fejedelem (put Wilson back at safety)
Vinny Rey (probably)
Nick Vigil was on Nyheim Hines which was fine and the other starting DBs were otherwise occupied. Nickerson is really low on my list of guys I want out there during the 2 minute drill trying to cover the TE that’s been eating your lunch all day. It seems that Teryl Austin may share the same allergy to Dime packages that Zimmer and Guenther had. It’s so frustrating to see these heavy footed linebackers get abused for 58 minutes with all that athleticism sitting on the bench. There’s no threat of run, safeties can blow up screens and blitz as well, I don’t understand why they feel the need to always have at least 2 linebackers on the field. I wonder if it’s a Marvin thing, not a D coordinator thing. Running dime packages would solve a lot of the Bengals defensive issues.
2. For Frank’s sake, have WJ3 shadow the opponent’s #1
Dre Kirkpatrick actually had a pretty good game. He was the same guy he’s always been. He got burned a few times by not getting his head around and playing the ball, had some nice pass breakups and dropped a few interceptions. But TY Hilton is not a good matchup for him. If WJ3 shut down Antonio Brown last year, TY Hilton isn’t going to be able to shake loose. If all you have to do to get your #1 receiver on Dre is move him to the right, you’re doing your defense a disservice.
I asked Erick Schlitt of Lions Wire (@ErikSchlitt on twitter, great follow if you like the Lions) if Teryl Austin with the Lions had their star corner Darius Slay shadow #1 receivers and he said yes, however it took him a while to trust Slay enough to do it. Hopefully it won’t take Austin long to figure out who his best corner is. If this trend keeps up I doubt we ever see AB line up in front of WJ3 again and we’ll see Dre continue to get abused.
3. The backup left side of the O line should be the starting right side
First of all, I thought Bill Lazor was excellent on Sunday. The formations were multiple and unique. The play calling stayed creative throughout the game, not just on the first 15 scripted play. My only qualm is they tried to run the to right side too much where the O line is just awful.
The failure came from the personnel. Bobby Hart was embarrassed twice by Margus Hunt. MARGUS HUNT! You remember Margus, right? The guy that was over-drafted and bad for 4 years here. Margus has been waiting 6 years to find a tackle he could beat twice in a game and he finally found Hart. I know Fisher has had his issues but there’s more hope there. Margus Hunt looks better than he was but he’s still not that good. If you get beat cleanly twice by Hunt in one game you’re not a starting NFL tackle. Fisher also gives you better run blocking. So if you’re going to have a turnstile at RT you might as well have one that can move people in the run game.
As much as I like the idea of Redmond, he’s not the 2nd best guard on the team. It’s Christian Westerman. I know it, you know it, even Alex Redmond’s mom knows it, but this coaching staff refuses to play him at RG for some reason. Redmond killed a few plays Bodine style and maybe he’ll be good eventually. But I don’t understand why we have to hope he figures it out when we have a good player sitting behind our best lineman.
All three of these issues are correctable. Easily correctable. And I think at least one of them probably will get fixed over the course of the season. The talent is there to carry the Bengals through these issues but if they really want to compete with the big boys, the coaches are going to have to figure out how to help their players instead of hindering them.
Agree? Disagree? Comments or criticisms? I’d love to hear from you on twitter @joelknowsbungs
A prediction for Sunday, plus thoughts on Mayfield and the AFC North
I give a prediction for Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, plus I react to the Browns’ win last night, discuss Baker Mayfield’s performance and more on today’s podcast. Listen and subscribe below.
Mark Walton is Ready for the Challenge
This Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals will look for production out of their rookie running back they selected in the fourth round. Some expressed concern over the pick, but make no mistake, Mark Walton is ready to showcase his talent.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you saw his performance in the preseason, and you may have had some questions. Let me enlighten you as to why I am looking forward to…no…excited to see Walton get some plays in.
Walton saw his junior season cut short due to an ankle injury, but before that happened, he compiled a pair of impressive games. He became just the fifth Miami Hurricane to ever rush for 200+ yards in a game, and he did it on 11 carries! Here are some highlights from that game:
His last full season of college football, 2016, he was the starter, as a sophomore, for the Hurricanes. He rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns. He made it on to the third team, All-ACC, according to the ACSMA and ACC coaches, and that was in a year that guys like Dalvin Cook, James Conner, and Wayne Gallman all made All-Conference in the ACC. Here are a few highlights from his sophomore campaign:
Walton was touted as a steal by some national writers (the same who have dogged the Bengals this year). He’s got winning pedigree, because he won a state title with Booker T. Washington high school, in Miami, and he ran a 4.6 40-yd dash. He profiles, according to NFL.com, as a third-down back with speed on the outside and decent hands. Look for him to spell Gio on some passing downs and, maybe, even see them in, together, if Bill Lazor decides to get creative. I mean, come on, if he’s this good in shorts, he’s a shoe-in to turn some heads when he puts on the pads:
Make sure you’ve got your subscription to the podcast, you’ve rated it five stars, and you keep your Twitter feed tuned in to @lockedonBengals, @jamesrapien, and @jefffcarr for all your daily Bengals content, throughout the season.
The offense should survive without Price and Mixon
I discuss the Bengals’ offense, why they should survive without Billy Price and Joe Mixon, plus I chat with Darqueze Dennard on today’s podcast. Listen and subscribe below.
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