Coming off a losing season in 2016, Cincinnati fans are hoping to see a turn-around in 2017. While the Bengals did make some notable additions in the draft, their unwillingness to address their offensive line problems has had many worried. These fears appear to have been well founded.
Cedric Ogbuehi at left tackle is the biggest issue, but the entire offensive line played poorly in week one. It is easy to say they should bench Ogbuehi, but they don’t have anyone on the roster who can truly fill that role. The Bengals need to figure something out here or it is going to be a long season.
Let’s take a deeper look at Andy Dalton and his five turnovers. His first interception came on a tipped pass. Although the ball appeared to be a little behind AJ Green in the first place, this was not an atrocious interception.
His second interception came in the goal line on a pass which was forced into the end zone on third down. Dalton needs to understand the situation and make sure his team leaves that drive with no less than three points on the board. If he wants to take a shot at the end zone he needs to put the ball where no one but his receiver can possible make the catch in bounds.
The third interception came on another tipped pass. This one was tipped at the line by Terrell Suggs who predictably gave the Bengals’ offensive line a hard time all day. The blame for this one falls more on the Cedric Ogbuehi’s shoulders than Dalton’s. Ogbuehi needs to get Suggs’ hands down. This interception occurred with the Bengals backed up in their own territory attempting a two minute drive and resulted in a Baltimore touchdown on the very next play.
Dalton’s fumble came in a red zone situation on the Bengals’ first possession of the third quarter. This was a chance for the Bengals to potentially shift the momentum of the game by scoring on their opening possession, but this opportunity was squandered. Once again Dalton was careless with the ball taking points off the board for Cincinnati. The Ravens drove down the field for a field goal after this turnover.
The fourth and final interception came on a pass forced to AJ Green in an attempt to convert on third down. This was a bad decision by Dalton throwing a hitch route into tight coverage.
Blame it on scheme, athletic ability or effort but the Bengals’ wide receivers could not get open. Dalton was frequently forcing the ball to receivers who were blanketed in coverage by the Ravens’ defenders. AJ Green was the only one in the group who looked like he even belonged on the same field as the Ravens’ defense. Even Tyler Eifert was a complete non factor. This Bengals offense needs a speedy receiver like John Ross healthy and making things happen in the pass game.
The defense generally looked pretty good. They need to work on pursuit angles, but they played pretty well. William Jackson stepped up with Adam Jones unavailable, and the defense held the Ravens in check in the passing game. Outside of Jeremy Maclin’s 48 yard touchdown reception, the Ravens had a mere 73 yards through the air. The Bengals did not fare as well in the run game where without their top linebacker in Vontaze Burfict they allowed 157 yards on the ground. The Bengals have two more weeks without Burfict and will need to address this issue.
The Bengals have a lot of problems, but many of them are fixable problems. They will need to continue to improve defensively, particularly while Vontaze Burfict is still out of the lineup. Offensively their problems are numerous. They need to improve their pass protection. They need to scheme to get their receivers open, and Dalton needs to make better decisions and be less careless with the football.