Week 4 brings The Battle of Ohio. The Bengals head north for a showdown with the Cleveland Browns. This should be an opportunity for the offense to shine.
When the season started, there were no worries about the Bengals’ offense. Well, maybe not for those ready to see scoring fireworks from a unit that was supposed to be one of the league’s best. On the other hand, there were reasons to be concerned about the performance of the offensive line and how they would protect Andy Dalton. Now, three weeks into the campaign, Ken Zampese has been replaced by Bill Lazor. With the change, there was a noticeable difference in the attack mode of the offense. Now, it’s about expanding on that mild success.
Actually, what happened at Lambeau Field was more than a drop in the bucket. It can be viewed as a major turnaround from what fans had witnessed over the past two games. Dalton looked as though he was able to go through his reads without fear of being treated like a sack of Russet golds. It wasn’t from stellar play by the O-line. It was the design of what the Bengals ran against the Packers. Dalton was in the shotgun and was able to get a decent look at oncoming blitzes.
The biggest issue was with blown reads and overthrowing open receivers. But, that should end, when the Bengals take a trip to the City by the Lake. A Week 4 visit to Cleveland may be just what the doctor ordered.
When Dalton was allowed to run a much simpler version of the Bengals offense, the results were as expected. On the first drive of the game, they were able to march down the field and put a much-needed TD on the board. Under the watchful eye of Lazor, the Bengals were able to do what hadn’t been done in the prior two games. Finally, the red zone offense looked like it wasn’t on life support.
The offensive approach against the Browns will have to be cut from a similar mold. A quick tempo will help the offense avoid any familiar reads by the Browns’ defense. Hue Jackson was a big part of Dalton’s development. It’s a no-brainer that he’ll be aware of his tendencies and have a good idea of what’s coming from each package the Bengals toss at the defense.
The Browns’ defense is struggling to find itself. Currently, the Browns are ranked 27th in the league and are surrendering 25.3 points per game. With the Bengals making strides to open up on the offensive side of the ball, there’s good chance Cincinnati could exploit the Cleveland D. At least Dalton understands what he and the offense are up against on Sunday. They still have to execute.
"“They throw a lot at you. That’s one thing when you turn on the film — you see all the different zone blitzes that they have. You have to prepare for everything. Sometimes guys are left one on one, and other times they’ve got the deep safety. You have to find a way to know the look you are given and know what you can do against it.”"
It will definitely be interesting to see how Lazor changes the feel of Cincy’s attack. The same old problem reared its predictable head, in the Week 3 loss to Green Bay. Everything went as planned in the first half. But, there was a lack of adjustments when the Pack found out how to stall the offense in the last thirty minutes.
If nothing else, this will be a chance for the Bengals coaching staff to work on developing on-the-fly game plans. They need to find out how to switch gears and keep the pressure on.