The Bengals and Browns will hook up for another Battle of Ohio, on Sunday afternoon. With Hue Jackson leading Cleveland into battle, things could change.
Cincinnati Bengals fans are in disbelief. The 2016 season has started with a fizzle instead of a bang. After a wild and crazy six games, the Bengals are 2-4.The Battle of Ohio 2.0 will soon be playing in theaters at 1 p.m. Sunday. Fans will be able to get an idea of how far Hue Jackson has brought the Cleveland Browns since becoming their head coach.
Part 1 of the yearly struggle will take place at Paul Brown Stadium. But, that doesn’t guarantee a Bengals victory. The Bengals have been reeling on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Guenther’s Gang hasn’t been the unit that flashed top-tier brilliance over the past few years. The problem could lie in players not performing or coaches not getting the message across. Either way, Sunday’s game is more than just a gimmie situation.
Offensively, the Bengals aren’t putting up points. Offensive coordinator Ken Zampese is pushing yards like a chubby kid likes cake. But, the yardage isn’t ending up on the scoreboard. Cincinnati’s offense is averaging a mere 4.97 points per 100 yards. After six games last year, the Bengals offense was cranking out 7.39 points for every 100 it gained. The loss of Jackson speaks volumes.
More from Bengals News
- 6 Bengals whose stock significantly rose in preseason game vs Cardinals
- 7 winners and 7 losers from Bengals preseason opener vs. Cardinals
- Jackson Carman winning LG job isn’t a given after Bengals preseason opener
- Denzel Ward wants to flex on Bengals WRs in 2022
- Scouting the enemy: Bengals preseason opener chat with Raising Zona
All of the problems can’t be blamed on Zampese. Yes, he’s learning. But, the departures of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu is coming back to stare Cincinnati in the face. The Bengals have a rising star with Tyler Boyd but Zampese needs to find a way to get him the ball. A.J. Green can’t do it alone.
Another Young QB
Not only will the Jackson and Lewis battle be a factor in this game, Cody Kessler could be a thorn in the Bengals side as well. After watching Trevor Siemian and Dak Prescott shred the secondary, it’s not insane to be concerned about the arm of Kessler.
It would be easy to dismiss most of Kessler’s numbers (336 yards, two TDs) as garbage time stats. But, with the Browns trailing 28-15, there was no quit in the young signal-caller. Brown’s tackle Joe Thomas was thoroughly impressed.
"“He’s battling his butt off out there. There were a couple times where he took some really big hits, scrambling on fourth down trying to make plays. You’re thinking, ‘Wow, he won’t be able to get up from that.’ He pops right back up and gets right back in the huddle like nothing happened.That’s really admirable. That’s the type of stuff that guys on this team like to see. You want to see a quarterback that’s got that toughness.”"
Looks like Jackson is doing his Andy Dalton Mind Meld with Kessler. If the USC QB had the ability to run around and almost complete a comeback against the Titans, he’ll be amped against the Bengals. Jackson will want to be successful in his PBS debut. There won’t be any quit in his players.
Bengals’ Must Haves
Focus and more focus will be the mantra for Sunday. Tyler Eifert isn’t the savior for this Bengals team. Cincinnati must pull things together and get it done. Playing the Browns is not going to be a “gimme” game. Sitting at 2-4, every game remaining is a dire situation. The Bengals have no business looking down on any remaining team.
The first signs of emotion from Lewis was snatching Cedric Ogbuehi from the Patriots game and benching him. Dalton’s protection and the running game will depend on Ogbuehi’s ability to snap back from a lousy game. Tackle Andrew Whitworth explained some of the processes.
"“What people don’t understand is there are different schemes. Here in Cincinnati, when you think of tackles you think of Willie Anderson and Levi Jones. We’re expected to block one-on-one. I say we’re like cover corners. We’re expected to block man-on-man. The reality is we’re on an island. You’re going to be scrutinized. But it’s as hard as it gets. We don’t slide protect. We don’t double and triple and help out our tackles a ton. Here, the reason they pay tackles, you’ve got a heck of a job. It’s a challenge.”"
This defense definitely needs to get ready for the stretch run. Vontaze Burfict is back but needs the rest of his teammates to step up.
Taking the Browns lightly isn’t an option. There are too many things to prove with both franchises.