The Bengals travel to the Steel City and look to deal a devastating blow to their division rival. Here is what is on the minds of the Bengals faithful as we answer this week's mailbag questions.
@ScottBantel @CincyJungle Yeah is there a strong chance 55 won't be on the field in 2015?— Nick Shoman (@ShomanNick) October 27, 2015
This has been the number one question in Bengals Country the past few weeks. Vontaze Burfict was targeting the Steelers game, but it doesn't sound like that is going to happen. If I were a betting man (which I am not) I would guess we will see Burfict make his debut against the Browns in Week 9 or against the Texans in Week 10. Both games should provide an easier opponent for Burfict to get his legs underneath him. The beauty about the Browns game is that it is on Thursday night and the next game is not until the following Monday, which would give Burfict 10 days to recover. Either way, I expect the Bengals to bring him along slowly. He won't play 50-60 snaps those first few weeks, 20-30 may be more realistic. I hear your concern though. We were originally told last year that this was likely a two week injury and here we are more than a year later and Burfict has yet to play football since. Burfict will most likely be playing this season. The question will be how effective he will be after what can be a devastating surgery. The silver lining is that the Bengals are 6-0 this season without their defensive leader.
@CincyJungle how can we realistically solve our tackling issues? Without those we are a top 5 defense easily— Jonathan Lee™ (@diJONketchups) October 29, 2015
Excellent question, and one the Bengals' coaches would love to know the answer to! Missed tackles have been a problem this year, particularly at the linebacker position, and with the CBA limits on full contact practices, tackling is tough to work on. The good thing is tackling is more mental than physical. That may sound odd, but it is a mindset, so the coaches harping on it throughout the week can help. You also have to hope that the return of Vontaze Burfict will help, but you and I certainly share this concern on the tackling...especially with Le'Veon Bell this weekend.
@ScottBantel @CincyJungle will we be able to contain their running game with Bell back at 100%?— tommy g (@GenardiThomas) October 27, 2015
I guess it depends on how you define "contain." In 2014, Le'Veon Bell lit up the Bengals for 205 yards rushing on 34 carries (6.0 YPC), 130 yards receiving on 12 receptions and three touchdowns in less than eight quarters. Do I think he will put up those type of numbers on Sunday? I doubt it. With Geno Atkins healthy and the defensive line playing well - combined with the injuries along the Steelers offensive line- I don't see him having that type of success. But I don't see the Bengals completely shutting him down either. With Ben Roethlisberger making his return from a pretty significant knee injury and playing behind a depleted line, the Steelers aren't going to have him dropping back 40+ times, so Bell will get plenty of work. If the Bengals can hold Bell around 100 all-purpose yards, I would consider that a good job. But, if Bell gets up in the 150+ all-purpose yards like he averaged against the Bengals in 2014, they will be in trouble.
Question from Patrick via Facebook:
Did any Bengals players, coaches, or fans watch Hard Knocks w/ Texans? When Ryan Mallett tried to B.S. Houston's GM Rick Smith that he missed practice because of a cellphone. You could tell by his body language and what he said about a cellphone not being charged, I thought Rick Smith was going to ask for his Playbook and either cut or trade him. I played college football and if ever did something that stupid our coaching staff would have said bye. I also remember that Mallett said he would get an alarm clock with batteries in it. I guess that plan did not come to fruition . So my question is if Mallett would have run that excuse by Marvin Lewis, Hue Jackson or any other member of the coaching staff or G.M. What or how would have the Bengals organization responded?
Thanks for the question Patrick! I did not watch this season of Hard Knocks (and don't know about the Bengals players/coaches), but I heard about this incident. While I would like to think Marvin and Hue would show him the door, I do think it depends on the situation. Because the Bengals have a solid starter, their reaction, I believe, would have been different. Unfortunately for the Texans, they are in a position where they don't have a franchise quarterback and were hoping Mallett would be the guy. If they had a solid starter, and Mallett was just the backup, I think he would have been cut right there. It just goes to show how teams will put up with character issues when they are devoid of talent.