Unfortunately for the Bengals offense, 3rd-downs now feel like Skid Row’s “18 and Life to Go“. Sunday’s debacle vs. the Dolphins saw the Bengals offense convert only 2/14 3rd-down opportunities. This has been a horrific trend for what at times has been a prolific offense., as they’ve converted just 7 of their last 34 3rd-down conversions, a rate of just over 20%, with the NFL average being 39%.
The Bengals’ inability to convert on 3rd-down cost them dearly on Sunday, as evidenced by their six drives between the 2nd and 3rd quarters that ended with a punt, fumble(on 3rd-down), punt, interception(on 3rd-down), punt, and punt. In that span, the Bengals went from holding a 6-0 lead, to trailing 17-6 in a game they lost 17-13.
Jay Gruden will have to tinker with the playbook to find plays that this team can better execute on 3rd-down. By no means should the blame be put on Gruden though. If the offensive line is getting no push on 3rd-and-1, or Dalton is getting too antsy on 3rd-down and overshooting his receivers (he’s 6/37 on 3rd-down throws), then this offense will never ascend to the elite class of the NFL, something they’re fully capable of doing.