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Film Room: Injuries reveal lack of plan-B for Bengals

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The Bengals did nothing against the Colts last Sunday. Nothing. And this comes after a tie at home against Carolina and the beating they took in Foxborough. Now, it's time for some to be held responsible.

Kirk Irwin

The first thing that comes to every fan's head is: the Bengals are injured. Okay, we've already discussed this. Every team in the NFL loses some players at some point, but the difference between a bad roster and a good roster is the team overcoming those injuries and continuing on, just like how the Cardinals won a couple of games without their beloved quarterback, Carson Palmer.

We had concerns about this squad prior to the season. Marvin Jones Jr. was going to miss some games, there was some lack of depth at wide receiver, Bodine did not look good at all, we wasted invested a third round pick on a redshirt player, Atkins was not going to be at 100 percent for some time and no defensive tackle was brought in, Michael Johnson left and the Bengals thought the guys who were already on the team could step up and fill in (and we know how Geathers and Hunt are faring so far) to provide the needed pass rush, etc.

And as we are going to focus on offense, the idea was to provide Dalton with weapons to make him look better, and that worked for a while. Then we started playing better teams and our offense was losing key players, leaving us with a suspect receiving corp, led by slot receiver Sanu and villain number one, Jermaine Gresham.

So the Colts came to play, well prepared, and knew what Hue Jackson's offense was going to do. We said before the short passing game that worked against the Panthers and the Falcons would take them so far, but the Bengals, apparently, have no plan-B, and that showed in Indy last Sunday. With no deep threat to be afraid of there was no way Cincinnati had any room to work underneath the way they used to.

Today, to see what happens on each play, we're using Vines.

On the Bengals' first drive Hue Jackson proves my point. He calls two screens in three plays, but Indy was ready. There was not a single successful screen in the entire game, because the Colts knew what was coming and Cincy did not react.

This is the very first play, a TE screen that goes horribly wrong, losing the Bengals five yards. There was another screen for Gio on the other side, but as you can see, the defense knew how to stop it. The nose tackle went straight to cover Bernard's play instead of attacking Dalton. It tells you a lot about how ready Indianapolis was for this game.

After that throw Cincinnati would have their first 3rd&long. Many pundits and some coaches pointed to the lack of success in third down conversions as one of the reasons the Bengals lost so badly, but I think differently. The offense faced so many 3rd&longs because they got nothing in first and second downs, as you can see on this play, where Gresham misses the chance to gain five or six yards and again the Bengals had a long distance to convert.

Dalton and Hue Jackson were extremely comfortable throwing to Gresham, who was targeted 12 times but only got 48 yards. The Colts were also very comfortable with that, as you can see here:

So, as no wide receiver could get open, and the Bengals could only throw four yarders, the running game was going to be a non-factor as well, and the entire offense crumbled. There were a couple of intermediate throws, like this one, but Sanu could not make the play, letting his man get inside.

Funny thing, the Colts executed the same play in the following drive, but Hilton did his job.

They also only tried the back shoulder pass twice, and our new 'wide receiver' (if you oblige) Greg Little dropped one (on third down nonetheless). And Dalton, who needs his share of blame as well, did not always trust Sanu, like in this play where Bernard got nothing and Sanu was wide open on the hitch route.

The Bengals went to Tate on 2nd&goal too, instead of throwing to Sanu on the slant, when he was clearly a better option inside and beat his man.

The next video proves how well the Colts prepared the game, as they stopped the bubble screen for Gio that Cincinnati used for Tate on the touchdown play against the Panthers. Vontae Davis deliverd a big hit too.

No plan-B: