Cincinnati Bengals: Observations from Week 1 vs the Seattle Seahawks
The Zac Taylor era officially began Sunday versus the Seattle Seahawks. The Cincinnati Bengals fought hard but were unable to leave Seattle with a victory. Let’s talk about what was good, what was bad and where the Cincinnati Bengals go from here.
Let’s start things off with a positive, John Ross showed up in a major way on Sunday. Ross exploded against the Seahawks with seven catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns. Not even a few mental lapses that resulted in drops could overshadow the impact he had on the offense in this game. The former Washington Husky looked like a true number one receiver worthy of the number nine pick the Cincinnati Bengals made him in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Is this a sign of things to come or just a one-game premonition? That remains to be seen, however, it is not uncommon for wide receivers to hit their stride in the third year of their career. After all, we have seen this before with Tyler Boyd. It’s very possible that the light has come on and Ross could finally be ready for his long-awaited breakout season, but only time will truly tell. One thing is for certain, how Ross progresses throughout this season will be a major storyline to follow in Cincinnati.
Now, on a not so positive note, the running game was virtually none existent. The offense only produced 34 yards on the ground. However, the Seahawks did play in a base set for most of this game lining up with three linebackers which happens to be one of the strongest units in the league led by All-Pro Bobby Wagner. When you have two running backs as gifted as Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard, there certainly has to be some cause for concern. We also knew that coming into the season the offensive line was going to be a work in progress. Outside of center Trey Hopkins who was a bright spot in this game, it showed today.
Although things could have been much worse, the line wasn’t great either against this Seahawks defensive line. There were no holes for the running backs to run through and Andy Dalton had defenders in his face throughout the game, taking a couple of sacks and having far too many passed deflected. This all being said, a healthy Cordy Glenn could help shore up the left tackle position as opposed to the aging Andre Smith. It is hoped rookie guard Michael Jordan will continue to grow and progress as the season goes along.
But enough about the offense, for now, let’s talk about that defense. New defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and his squad were impressive, especially considering where this unit was last season. The defensive line was dominant, posting 4 sacks on the day and looks to be one of the strengths of this roster. The linebackers made plays as well, holding Seattle to under one hundred yards rushing while only allowing just under three yards per carrying. Outside of a couple of missed assignments by a usually steady secondary, the defense played an impressive game against a respected offense with one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks in Russell Wilson.
As for Zac Taylor, the first-year head coach went into a hostile environment in his debut and almost come out with a win. But as they say, there are no moral victories in the NFL. Some people will question some decisions, especially late in the game and that is debatable. However, he did have a solid game plan offensively based on what the Seahawks defense gave him and the offense moved the ball pretty well through the air. Red zone deficiency is an area that will certainly need to be cleaned up as the Bengals did struggle to find the end zone. That being said, I must note that coach Taylor didn’t seem to completely open up his playbook in this game so there is more to see from this offensive system.
The Cincinnati Bengals moving forward
Week 1 means that there is plenty of the 2019 season left to go. There will be plenty of ups and downs and no one can truly predict how this season will turn out. However, coach Taylor showed fans enough in this game to believe that the future could be bright in the Queen City. His offensive scheme shows potential and I don’t believe he has even scratched the surface of what it can do. The defense also looks to be much improved from last season.
Now, let’s be real for a minute, as far as wins and losses go, this season could go in multiple directions. It would also be premature to call this team a lock to win the AFC North. The Bengals will also be facing some tough stretches throughout this season. That being said, Taylor has shown that he is smart, calm, knows how to rally his team and make them believe in what he is building.
The Cincinnati Bengals have a coach who could potentially be one of the brightest young football minds in the NFL, but only time will tell. This could also be another disappointing season for fans or this team could really surprise some people. That said, one thing that is for certain, it’s going to be an interesting ride finding out.