Today I was "lucky" enough to have the day off work, re-watch the Bengals junk offense, to get an idea of what went wrong (you can see the first half and second half documentation). I intend to do the defense also, but only if time permits (which might not happen). I choose the offense for the most obvious reasons; while the defense was solid, the Bengals offense struggled, a lot.
It wasn't that the offensive line was brutally bad. For the most part, four of five blockers typically had hats on someone. However, during most rushing plays, one blocker either didn't get to his man, or let him shed off the block. In many instances, the Browns had eight guys in the box, blitzing cornerbacks off the edges and linebackers through the inside gaps. The most notable thing about the Browns defense is that they stayed home, controlled their gap responsibilities, containing the edges, and when they blitzed on the run, they were immensely effective.
Getting a push was the biggest problem by the line. Stacy Andrews struggles against speed, and Eric Ghiaciuc struggles against strength (I counted three times he was dropped onto his ass). Furthermore, while the Bengals may have blocked the Browns defensive front, too few actually reached the linebackers to get those 5-10 yardage chunks. I also finally got a look at Reagan Maui'a and I have to admit, I'm not that impressed. During pass protection, he leans allowing rushers to take advantage of Maui'a's imbalance. Maui'a also tends to receive a defender, rather than running through him.
The pass protection is still improving; though lacks consistency. While Fitzpatrick pulled down the pass to scramble at least four times, there were moments that Fitzpatrick lacked trust with the protection, electing to run when he 1) didn't need to or 2) could have avoided one pass rusher, set his feet and threw more accurate (and by extension, less risky) passes.
Along with pedestrian rush blocking, Chris Perry just doesn't break tackles. When people wrap his feet, he's easily going down; which we believe his biggest problem is people getting to his feet in the first place.
The offense found ways to break T.J. Houshmandzadeh free by moving him around in motion, lining him up everywhere, and setting up pick routes that neutralized Houshmandzadeh's defender. Whether Chad Johnson lines up left, or right, he didn't run many crossing routes, being limited to hook routes.
This is a story that's happened much of the season; defense jams the rush, forcing the Bengals to beat the opposition with passing under fire. If the Bengals elected to use more short passing strikes, mixed with outside rush attempts, then they could improve, but I doubt by much. Perfecting screen passes and using draws more on first down, or short second downs, could force aggressive defenses to slow down a bit, enabling those rushing lanes to open up and giving the quarterback an additional click to make better passes with confidence.
I agree with Dave. "Mike Zimmer is a keeper."
Paul Daugherty asks what you're doing on Sundays, from 1-4pm, now that we presume less and less Bengals fans care about the 0-4 Bengals.
The team's confidence is shaken. "To be honest, myself included, you're going to lose a bit of confidence when you're 0-4. When things aren't going well, you have to fight through it. I think we're going to beat Dallas but then I thought we were going to beat Cleveland, too."
Marvin Lewis on the horrible use of the team's timeouts. "It's not what we want to do, but it was an unfortunate situation where we had a guy injured. When a guy goes down, something has to happen so that we can get the right people on the field, and obviously you don't want to spend an extra timeout in that situation. It's unfortunate that it happened, and it wasn't the way we wanted it done, but it happened."
Chinedum Ndukwe had the best defensive effort, with six tackles, a sack and an interception. The sack is the team's second of the year and the interception is the team's first.
Even though Jamal Lewis gained 36 yards rushing on his first six carries, the Bengals defense tightened up only allowing 43 yards on 19 carries afterwards.
There's speculation that Palmer's injury is worse than feared. When asked about his injury, Palmer deflects comment by saying "I'm not gonna comment on everything."
The Bengals gained 211 yards against the Browns, the seventh worst offenasive performance during the Marvin Lewis era.
DeDe Dorsey went down with a hamstring injury and Kenny Watson was inactive because of a hamstring injury. So will the Bengals go out and sign another running back -- or sign James Johnson off the practice squad?