Cincinnati Bengals: What We Learned In Week 8

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Oct 30, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) celebrates with teammates after his 15 yard reception for touchdown during the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert (85) celebrates with teammates after his 15 yard reception for touchdown during the third quarter against the Washington Redskins at Wembley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Flynn-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Bengals are headed into Week 9 with a bye. Things haven’t been working according to plan. Hopefully, the time away will help coaches fix what’s broken.

The last of the NFL’s International games was a doozy (waited a long time to use that word). London fans were treated to a 27-27 tie between the Bengals and Washington Redskins. Cincinnati logged a ton of air miles to cross the pond and basically shake hands with the Skins. But, the battle exposed some things and also gave encouragement.

At the halfway point of the season, Bengals’ fans are frustrated. If the fans are frustrated, the players and coaches have to be downright confused. By this time last season, the Bengals had wowed the league and were riding a 7-0 record after Week 8. This year’s version of the AFC Champs is 3-4-1 heading into the Week 9 bye.

After getting up to watch the 9:30 a.m. Wembley showdown, what did we learn?

Something Is Wrong With This Defense

At first, the excuse was Vontaze Burfict. The big problem was his absence due to a three-game suspension. It was all about being able to survive the storm while Burfict was missing from the front seven. The theory seemed like it held water. After three games, the Bengals were 1-2. Facing the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football would be a test of sorts. The triumphant return of Burfict would be in primetime.  

Cincinnati beat the Phins 22-7. Burfict did indeed help the defense with its emotional recharge. But, the following week, Dak Prescott and the Cowboys dismantled the defense. Dem Boys have since rolled to a 6-1 record. So, there may be something special brewing there in the Big D. Yet, that spanking was followed by Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady and Co. shredding the Bengals for almost 500 yards and 33 points.

Much has been said about the Washington game being competitive. At the risk of being a homer, it was mediocrity at its best.

The Redskins burned the Bengals defense for 546 yards. Well…at least they only surrendered 27 points. A good argument for the defense would be that they bent but didn’t break. The problem with that theory is the L they took.

Looking at it from a numbers standpoint, the defense posted a 4.94 DPA/100Y (points per 100 yards) against the Redskins. In the past, Paul Guenther’s unit gave up yards but no points. This year, the points and yards are being piled up. Those numbers look good when the points aren’t being scored.

What happened to those great coaches that Marvin Lewis brought in? This defensive unit looks slow and confused. For some strange reason, they can’t make tackles.

Eifert Can Make A Difference

Andy Dalton surely can’t do it alone. But, when he has the assistance of Tyler Eifert, things get better quick. In his second debut, Eifert stretched the field and had nine catches for 102 yards.

If you don’t believe he makes a difference, let his teammate do the talking. A.J. Green was candid about Eifert’s return and what it accomplished.

“Tyler opens up everything,” Green said, via Bengals.com. “The safeties have to play honest. He’s sneaky; he’s smooth (in the red zone). He just closes it out.”

Next: Time For Bengals To Stop Being Mediocre

Offensive coordinator Ken Zampese also opened up and lost his brain cramp. Having all the offensive weapons at his disposal should help the Bengals O’s beat a few X’s.

During the bye week, Lewis and the coaching staff have a lot to consider. This team isn’t that far from being a serious contender. Yet, the nagging mistakes and uninspired play have to be addressed. The Fat Lady hasn’t sung yet. But, she’s warming up and watching the Bengals closely.

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