Through the first four games of the season, the Bengals' offense has to be the highlight of this squad. It seems like this unit could score on any team in the NFL and is playing with tremendous confidence. Hats off to the coaches and the play calling, this is pretty incredible to watch based on how last season ended.
How do the individual pieces of the offense look? It is going to be tough to nitpick without sounding like an ass. The Bengals are off to a 4-0 start and widely considered one of the top teams in the NFL. But, like the coaches say, there is always room for improvement.
The offense is:
- averaging more than 30 points a game good for 3rd in the NFL
- averaging 422 total yards per game, good for 2nd in the NFL
- averaging 294 passing yards per game, good for 4th in the NFL
- averaging 128 rushing yards per game, good for 7th in the NFL
The Bengals have 16 touchdowns, good for 3rd in the NFL. The offensive line has given up two sacks which is tied for best in the NFL and has allowed 21 QB hits with puts the Bengals at 8th overall. The Bengals also rank top 3 in both passing and rushing touchdowns.
Andy Dalton: A+
It's tough to read about the NFL without seeing Andy Dalton's name being mentioned as someone having a remarkable season. Sure, there are national media holdouts that spout off about the negatives they see, but for the most part people are taking notice of his standout play. I can entertain arguments that a QB's output can be directly related to the caliber of player surrounding him, but that only accounts for so much. Dalton has taken control of the offense this season. Calls at the line, nailing pre-snap reads and finding open receivers are skills he is currently excelling at. As far as his overall play, he is currently holding a 123.0 quarterback rating which trails only Aaron Rodgers. We have heard about the magic Carson Palmer is weaving in Arizona (also surrounded by a ton of talent) and his current rating is 106.
A knock on Dalton over the years has been his deep ball accuracy. He currently boasts 20 completions of at least 20 yards and 5 completions of more than 40 yards. When compared to Aaron Rodgers, he had 5 more 20 yard strikes and 4 more 40 yard strikes.
Another knock in the past has been how Dalton has locked onto receivers and forced the ball without scanning the field. This season, Dalton has involved nine different receivers in four games. Four different players have touchdown catches. If you get open, Dalton will find you.
Offensive Line: B+
I have already detailed how the line has kept Andy from being sacked, but that doesn't mean there hasn't been pressure. While Dalton seems to be handling pressure fine and making good reads on the run, there are times where the protection is lacking. The biggest offender has been from the center position. Russell Bodine has been abused at times in this young season and not only has it affected the passing game, the running game has struggled also.
It's not all bad. This line kept an outstanding Kansas City defensive front from celebrating a single sack. That is not an easy feat when you face players like Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.
Tight Ends: A -
It is easy to see the kind of output a healthy Tyler Eifert can give the Bengals. However, I had to knock him for a couple plays in the Ravens game. First, the touchdown, while it was unfortunate, a player needs to hold onto the ball for at least 9 minutes to secure a catch, Eifert's 8:47 didn't quite get there.
Like I said, I need to be critical on a wildly successful unit and Eifert had drops against Oakland and Baltimore. They didn't hurt and the output far outweighs the production. We were told this is a player who Hue wanted to build an offense around and then that ideal was ripped from us in the first game of last season. Now we are witnessing what Eifert on the field affords the Bengals. With him there are many more mismatches for the opposing defenses.
Wide Receivers: A
Tough to argue with the production from this squad. A.J. Green is every bit the player that he has been hyped to be. However, he also has an issue with drops and we have seen it this season. In the 2015 version, the ball bounces harmlessly away and the Bengals are able to overcome it, but the tendency is there.
Andy Dalton has a plethora of weapons at his disposal and this is a strong group.
Running Backs: B
I have to knock this one for the starting running back being benched in a game because of fumble issues. The running game was also quiet in the Ravens game (see Line, Offensive...). Other than those instances, this running back committee is outstanding. The Bengals once again enjoy incredible talent in multiple players at a single position and having the ground options helps this offense.
Giovani Bernard has 12 receptions for 75 yards. Add that to his 54 carries for 297 yards at a 5.5. yard average and you are looking at top level numbers for the Bengals' second string guy. The Bengals truly have the speedster and the wrecker. These guys are going to carry this offense at times and will help win games.
Final report card:
Three A's and two B's. I would take a guess that this tops many of our wonderful readers' report cards when they were in school. The note from the teacher would read along the following lines. I am a hard grader because I care. The Bengals are one of the top students in the NFL and their talent can take them to the top with hard work. There are not many weaknesses on this offense. I look forward to three more quarters of them excelling.