This is the first addition of ‘Called Out’ where certain players from the Bengals organization will be targeted for their play during the previous game. Getting called out is not always a bad thing, as players will also be recognized for their efforts in a positive fashion as well.
Monday night came and went and there were very high expectations of what the 2012 Cincinnati Bengals team would be capable of doing this season. Unfortunately for the franchise and for fans, Monday night did not turn out the way that anyone would have thought as the Bengals fell to the Ravens 44-13.
Let us keep in mind, however, that this was a very daunting task for the Bengals to begin with. The Ravens are a very dominant team when they play at home. The Bengals have a roster full of young talent, but most have never experienced such a high profile game on Monday night. Along with that, the death of Art Modell certainly gave the Ravens an extra incentive to play hard againstCincinnatiin their home opener.
There were few bright spots for the Bengals on Monday night, and many things that need to be fixed if the Bengals would have any chance of back to back winning seasons for the first time in 30 years. It’s time to get called out.
The very first name on the list of players that need to be called out for their performance (or lack there of) on Monday night is Maualuga. The Bengals middle linebacker was seen constantly out of position on both running and passing plays. Ravens running back, Ray Rice had a field day up the middle as Maualuga kept tending to over pursue to one side and was then an easy block to keep away from Rice’s running lane. Maualuga also seemed to be playing soft; this could be because he is still playing scared due to injury issues, or simply because he is not comfortable in his role in the Bengals defense. Maualuga needs to step up and be the quarterback of the defense as so many good middle linebackers are. If he is not comfortable in his own shoes, there is no way that he will be able to adjust to offensive schemes and get his teammates lined up accordingly. Maualuga is also in a contract year, and if he wants any chance to remain with the Bengals or latch on to another team in free agency, he needs to step up immediately. Keep in mind that rookie free agent Vontaze Burfict is waiting in the wings.
The right side of the Bengals offensive line was atrocious last night. Both Zeitler and Smith double teamed Haloti Ngata and failed miserably as he broke through with ease and sacked Andy Dalton. Pass protection was not the only issue with these players as they struggled in the running game as well. Runs to the right side were very ineffective and the Bengals had to become one-dimensional in the running game as they called most of their runs to the left which were much more effective. Zeitler is still a rookie and it was a very big task to ask him to go in as a starter on Monday night and protectDaltonagainst the brutal defensive line of the Ravens. He will learn from this game and will continue to get better. Smith on the other hand has no excuse. He has been in this system long enough and has seen enough professional snaps to be able to execute with precision. He, like Maualuga, is also in a contract year and needs to step up his play if he intends to remain with the team.
The left side of the Bengals offensive line was a bright spot during their Monday night game against the Ravens. They were very stout in the running game as holes opened up on their side which allowed BenJarvus Green-Ellis to have a very solid game on the ground. There were also multiple screens set to the left side for slot receiver Andrew Hawkins and the offensive line showed their athleticism and was able to get down the field and deliver blocks to spring Hawkins for plenty of yards after the catch. It seems that the left side of the offensive line will be the strong point of the Bengals this season as the right side continues to struggle. Kudos goes out to Jeff Faine who played a very solid game despite only having two practices in pads with the team.