The Cincinnati Bengals are quickly becoming a One Trick Pony
The Cincinnati Bengals are evolving into the kind of team that is predictable and single-dimensional. In today’s NFL, that can be the kiss of death for an 0-3 team looking for a way to win.
With a Week 3 loss at the now 3-0 Buffalo Bills, an interesting trend is beginning to develop for the 0-3 Cincinnati Bengals. First, I think it’s fair to say that the close loss at Seattle was the 2019 outlier for this team. Since you can make a fair and measured argument that Cincinnati has slid a bit, looking at 13 games still, to come, that’s significant.
Second, is the trend of big plays. The Bengals make them. It’s nice, but it is also is a sign that they aren’t a team capable of a time-consuming drive. In Buffalo, time of possession was a killer for Cincinnati. The Bills has the ball for 36:54, while the Bengals had it for only 23:06. They also lost the TOP battle to the San Francisco 49ers 32:19 to 27:41.
Ironically, in their best-played game of the season and the one game where it all looked to be working for Cincinnati, they won the TOP 35:50 to 24:10 in Week 1 on the road in Seattle. The now outlier game that did not set the table as many Bengals fans had hoped for.
It’s not hard to see that at the moment the Cincinnati Bengals are the prototypical “One-Trick Pony”. They are big-play capable via a very good passing game, but lose the rushing battle and are therefore not able to put together a long, time-consuming drive. The can get the ball down the field with Andy Dalton, but cannot with Joe Mixon or Gio Bernard.
In any game that requires a win in the time of possession column, a column that gives you significant chance to win a football game, the Bengals are failing. Without a running game that can be relied upon for a big first down or to keep an opposing offense off the field, Cincinnati will be hard-pressed to get into the win column with any sort of frequency in 2019.
Through three weeks, the Bengals have shown that it’s less about putting it all together for 60 minutes of play, and more about balance in their offensive game plan. Fans who want to point to “winnable games” that are upcoming on the schedule, forget to realize the Bengals have yet to find a way to actually win football games.
Entering Week 4 and beyond, fans will find that it’s not about the opponent. It is about a Bengals roster that is unbalanced and missing the kind of talent that can tip the balance of a game. Until they fix that, it’s all just noise.