The Red Herring of Blame

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Sep 30, 2012; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tackle Andre Smith (71) blocks Jacksonville Jaguars defensive end Austen Lane (right) during the third quarter at Everbank Field. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

The popular thought in Bengaldom is that Head Coach Marvin Lewis and quarterback Andy Dalton are primarily to blame for the loss.  While it is proper to hold leaders accountable for everything that their team does or does not accomplish, laying all that boogie-woogie on their doorstep is an egregious over-simplification of matters and an inconceivable over-looking of obvious factors that put the game on both of their shoulders.

The most incredible statistic from the game wasn’t the Bengals’ total rushing yards, which was 80 yard between four players, but the total rushing yards for BenJarvus Green-Ellis, which was 14 on 9 carries for an average 1.9 yards per carry.  Bernard Scott’s flash-in-the-pan was ironically metaphorical of his play all of last season: brief and out.  Scott did put up 40 yards, but without his first break out run of 29 yards,Daltonactually scrambled for more yards during the game with 21 yards on 4 carries.  And in case you’re counting, Andrew Hawkins ran a pitch for five yards to round out the day.

Notable thatDalton’s scrambles contributed to one of Bengals’ two third down conversions during the entire game.  The Bengals were 2 of 14 on the day for third down efficiency, and they saunter forth this season with a whopping 15 of 61 so far, a plaguing theme lingering from last year.  As the running game has steadily declined since the first week, opposing teams are now realizing that they don’t have to load the box in order to negate Green-Ellis who routinely goes down when the first tackler gets to him.  This allows opposing defenses to drop greater numbers back into coverage, which yesterday showed far more effective against the Dalton Gang then sending a blitz package.  The Dolphins routinely rushed four and usually got pressure on the pocket or a sack, which starts to lend a little attention towards offensive tackle Andre Smith who got mauled byMiami defensive end Cameron Wake, a deja vu situation from a week ago at Jacksonville.  Again, Miamiwas allowed to do this by disrespecting the run.  Once the Bengals running game was seen as a liability from its own sideline, the Dolphins defensive had done what they had set out to do and settled into a very simple and aggressive series of packages designed to stop a one-dimensional style of play; i.e. a West Coast Offensive with no running back.

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