Last night’s game against the Packers had a lot of good things the Bengals can look at and build upon, but the majority of the night was filled with mistakes, miscues, and flat-out poor execution on offense and defense that absolutely cannot happen if the team wants to even sniff a repeat trip to the playoffs for the first time in two decades.
Last year, the Bengals only scored a TD on 14 of 26 (54%) on first-and-goal opportunities to tie for 24th in the NFL. That trend continued last night as the team had first-and-goal at the 1-yard line and couldn’t punch it in. Not only was their short-yardage bad in the redzone, but the Bengals continued to struggle running the ball effectively. Bengals RBs rushed 14 times for 32 yards last night at a rate of 2.8 yards per carry. This preseason, Bengals RBs have rushed 67 times for 129 yards. That’s 1.9 per carry.
The Bengals run defense struggled while both starting units were in, including allowing 92 yards rushing in the first half as Cedric Benson repeatedly pounded them up the middle, while Aaron Rodgers broke containment on numerous occasions to have long scrambles, including two rushing TDs. In a division where they play the Pittsburgh Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger twice, as well as facing likes of Michael Vick, Tony Romo, and Robert Griffen III this year, Mike Zimmer must find a way for his defense to learn how to contain mobile QBs better, or else the Bengals will have to win a lot of shootouts, something haven’t been good at doing in resent seasons.
That means the Bengals struggled running the ball and defending the run, a recipe for disaster in the run-heavy AFC North. IF the Bengals don’t improve in both areas, it will be a very disappointing season that once had so much promise.
Leon Hall didn’t have a good night at all. He was repeatedly beaten by his man, whether its was Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, or Jordy Nelson. The play whereJenningsjuked Hall out of his shoes to pick up 18 yards after the catch didn’t help either. Hall was reportedly dealing with ankle tendonitis as a result of his achilles surgery, which is never a good sign. Hopefully he’ll be fully healthy when the regular season opens, but this will be something to monitor going forward.
The Bengals offensive line as a whole struggled to block Green Bay’s front seven consistently, and Andy Dalton was pressured all night long. That helped attribute to this 5/17 passing performance, though Dalton was noticeably off last night. He can’t just keep throwing it up to A.J. Green and expect him to pull it down against good secondary units like the Packers’. He’s got to learn to look for other receivers who are more open.