Another Bengals loss leaves fans disappointed. With one game left on the schedule, coaches will need to make better adjustments for a Week 17 win.
The Christmas holiday didn’t start with a bang for Bengals fans. Instead of a spoilers victory, The Houston Texans slipped a lump (hunk) of coal to Cincinnati. Once again, the Bengals were presented with a chance to delay the postseason party of an opponent. But, like a fine timepiece, they ended the game under the same cloud of disappointment. The big question? Did the coaches make enough halftime adjustments?
One of the most glaring problems of the 2016 season has been the Bengals’ inability to correct things at the break. It’s almost become an ongoing joke with those who follow the team. If the Bengals are ahead at halftime, there’s a good chance something bad will happen before the game is over.
Marvin Lewis vowed to give it his all over the last two weeks of the season. He acknowledged that the fan base needed to see a winning attitude from the franchise. The effort given over the past two battles has been better than some of the other emotionless flounders. But, unfortunately, the bottom line has been the same. The Bengals now sit at 5-9-1 and are in danger of losing 10 games for the first time since 2010.
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About Those Adjustments…
Taking into consideration the magnitude of the game, Marvin Lewis had his team prepared. Wait. That should be rephrased. Lewis’ defense came out with a determination that was inspiring. Playing without their emotional leader, Vontaze Burfict, the Bengals fared well. But, the job was made easier by the early lack of pocket presence by Tom Savage.
The Texans evidently wanted Savage to get a feel for the Bengals’ blitz schemes and he paid for the decision. Houston’s signal-caller was dumped on the turf four times by the Cincinnati defense. Yet, they did something after halftime. It wasn’t unique in the least. But, it proved coaches knew what to do. Savage is better when he’s letting the ball rip in an uptempo offense. Well…that’s what the Texans switched to.
Did offensive coordinator Ken Zampese get the memo? Meh. For the most part, Zampese did get away from the run-run-pass predictability. But, he was still late in introducing Rex Burkhead to the mix. Burkhead ran with more power and vision than Jeremy Hill. There was also the switch to a hurry-up offense. Was it effective? The uptempo switch did produce Brandon LaFell’s 86-yard TD strike from Andy Dalton. Yet, the lingering question is evident. Why didn’t it happen earlier?
Oh. Dalton got sacked at the worst times. Does Cedric Ogbuehi understand basic pass protection principles? Thought those were appropriate observations too.
Surprisingly, the defense played well without Burfict. Karlos Dunlap led the D with 10 tackles and played with the wheels of a rookie. Paul Guenther was able to get the most out of his unit. The biggest letdown of the night was the Texans scoring drive after the Bengals took the lead. Savage and Co. proceeded to march 75 yards in only four plays. That two-minute answer turned out to be the winning drive.
Zampese’s audition is coming to a close. What have we learned? He still has a long way to go as a coordinator. Life in the NFL goes beyond gadget plays and deception. The Bengals’ offensive playbook needs an overhaul. Okay…it’s a fact. The Bengals had their share of injuries and have been without the name brand playmakers. But, this is why coaches get paid to “adjust” to the situation.
Hill said it best, after the Steelers meltdown, per Bengals.com.
"“They made their adjustments and we didn’t do well adjusting to what they were doing.”"
That’s as simple as it gets.