Week 7 was a huge learning experience for the Bengals. Finding the right balance on offense made a difference. Now, the defense has to follow suit.
Week 7 was just what the Bengals needed. Facing the possibility of falling farther behind the Steelers and dropping to 2-5, Cincinnati came through. With a 31-17 trouncing of the Cleveland Browns, there’s still hope for the rest of the season. The AFC North is still up for grabs and the Men in Stripes are still in the hunt. Things came together and we learned a few things about the Bengals.
Andy Dalton Is Still A Beast
The season is almost at the halfway point and Dalton is still looking good. After starting last year’s campaign like a man possessed, the beat goes on for The Ginger.
Dalton’s latest gem came Sunday afternoon against the Browns. The Bengals’ signal caller threw for 308 yards, against that team from Cleveland. His completion ratio was a sparkling 67.9 on 19-of-28 passing. Did you ask about his QBR and rating? Dalton’s numbers were 90.2 and 128.3 respectively.
For what he’s accomplishing this season, Dalton is getting no love at all. In the midst of the Bengals’ 8-0 run last year, the talk was all about The Red Rifle. With the Bengals sitting at 3-4, analysts are shying away from discussions about his accomplishments.
Through seven weeks, Dalton has thrown eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. Helping out with this momentous task on Sunday were A.J. Green and Brandon LaFell. Green hauled in a man-sized 169 yards and LaFell added 83 yards. Both receivers brought TD’s to the party.
Dalton’s QBR effort now has him as the No. 5 ranked quarterback in the AFC. As far as the whole league, Mr. Dalton is occupying the tenth spot. The Cleveland game marked Andy’s fifth game of the season without a turnover. In his coming of age campaign of 2015, he had seven such games. If this trend continues, he could be in the running for MVP. But, the Bengals have to win for him to get noticed.
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The Running Game Is Necessary
Don’t let anyone fool ya. Having a serious running game can give any team a chance to turn things around. Need an example? The Phins have found a gem with Jay Ajayi. In back-to-back games, Ajayi has rushed for 418 yards. Both games have been wins for Miami.
The run game was sweet. Seeing Jeremy Hill break away for a 74-yard score was electrifying. If Hill’s health continues to improve and he runs with the passion he showed against the Browns…the Bengals could be breaking more than a few offensive records.
“Yeah it was good for us today to get some confidence going, as far as our run game,” Hill explained, via Bengals.com. “We got to hit a couple big ones. The one I had on that on that first drive, I wish I could have back. Gio gave me crap for it. All in all, I think we did a way better job just getting hats on guys and allowing our backs to get up field. Rex (Burkhead) came in and did a great job as well. We’ve just got to continue off that.”
The Bengals rushed for 271 yards. Maybe it was the lowly Browns or it could have been motivation. Either way, the ground attack looked good.
Defense Still Needs Work
Though the Bengals’ defense closed the door on the Browns, there were still some areas of concern. For some reason, the D was getting beat by another rookie quarterback. It wasn’t Kevin Hogan’s arm that did the damage. Hogan was able to break huge runs on option plays.
Paul Guenther and Co. need to break down the film and figure out what happened and why. It may have been as simple as putting a defender on Hogan to make sure he had the ball. Maybe Hue Jackson used a wrinkle to pull other defenders away from the flow. Whatever the situation was, it needs to be addressed before meeting the Redskins in London.
This year’s version of the elite Bengals’ unit that wrecked havoc isn’t quite there yet. New personnel can have a profound effect on the schemes that Guenther runs.
The season is far from over. Suddenly, with both the Ravens and Steelers falling apart, the North is up for grabs. This is the perfect time for a defensive resurgence.