Red Zone Efficiency
Twitter was set ablaze on Thursday night with Bengals fans ready to toss their TV screen out of the second floor window because they are sick of this team constantly settling for field goals in the red zone. This is certainly a true statement, as the Bengals have had poor red zone numbers under offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden since the start of last season. It is not Gruden’s play calling that is to blame here. Other things should be taken into consideration.
First off, it is the preseason and the Bengals are still running a very vanilla offense. They will not draw a play out of the offensive playbook just to score some points in a preseason game. Bengals opponents are watching their every move this preseason and both offensive and defensive coordinators do not want to give too much away. Offenses are, and will always be easier to stop during the preseason.
Next, everyone seems to be up in arms about the lack of a touchdown after having a first and goal at the one-yard line. This is to be expected. Keep in mind, however, that Green-Ellis was not in on that first run that was stopped for a loss; that was Peerman. Over the past two seasons, Green-Ellis has shown that he has a nose for the end zone as he has amassed 24 touchdowns over that time span. That is good enough to tie him for second in the league only behind Arian Foster. If Green-Ellis was in on that play, Bengals fans should assume that there might have been a very good chance at a different outcome.
Finally, let’s revisit the offensive line situation one more time. The Packers blew up the Bengals linemen on every play during that goal line stand. With the chance of being too repetitive, please be patient. There is plenty of time to fix the offensive line situation. The line gets better, Green-Ellis will be in the game, the play calling will not be vanilla, and the outcome of these red zone trips will be much different than they were on Thursday. There should be no panic button alert at this time. If the Bengals continue to struggle into the regular season with these same concerns, everyone has the blessing to give it a press. For now, it is just way too soon.
This will probably be the most debated subject in this article. Every other tweet that was put out there by Bengals fans during Thursday’s game seemed to have something negative to say about the secondary. It seemed that everyone was willing to give up on the secondary play for the season. People said that they are too old and too slow and can’t cover anymore. Leon Hall is too rusty and he is not on schedule from his rehab. The safeties are weak in their coverage skills. All of these things were said, and this writer completely disagrees with all above statements.
First off, let’s remember whom the Bengals were playing on Thursday night. The Packers, who went 15-1 in 2011 and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP. Rodgers had an unbelievable season in 2011 throwing for 4,643 yards with a touchdown to interception ratio of 45 to 6 (that’s not a typo). He had a quarterback rating of 122.5 and completed 68.3% of his passes. On Thursday, it was a little bit of a different story for Mr. Rodgers. He only completed 55% of his passes as he went 12 of 22 for 154 yards and no touchdowns. Terence Newman also intercepted a Rodger’s pass. Stop and read the stat lines again; first from 2011 and then from Thursday and see how you feel about the Bengals’ secondary.
Individual performances were also very good in the Bengals’ secondary. Reggie Nelson continues to be a force and is around the ball on just about every play. A time-share opposite Nelson may be a great idea being that Taylor Mays had another hard-hitting performance and Jeromy Miles has been terrific in coverage. As mentioned earlier Terence Newman had the lone pick of Rodgers and also ended up with two tackles and is proving to defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer that he is turning his game around. Nate Clements looked rather slow, however, he is starting to see more time at safety, which will be a good fit for him. Keep in mind that Dre Kirkpatrick, Jason Allen, and Pacman Jones did not play in this game. Being that the Packers generally run four and five receiver packages, the Bengals were left very thin in coverage.
Marvin Lewis stated after the game that he was not upset at all by the way the secondary played. His only concern was the fact that there was no containment on Rodgers as he rushed for 52 yards and 2 touchdowns on 6 carries. Rest assured, that will be taken care of this week in practices. There is absolutely no need to be anywhere near the panic button when it comes to the secondary. They played well over the first three preseason games. They will get healthier as the season goes on and will play even better. The secondary should be the least of concerns for Bengals fans at this time.
More than likely, many of these topics will not be agreed upon. Feel free to express your opinion on the Bengals and their play against the Packers this past Thursday night by posting a comment on the message board below, or messaging us on Twitter.