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Film Room: Failures in key situations tell story for Bengals’ offense

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The Bengals had a pretty good day yielding yards, but the offense didn’t deliver when it mattered most.

Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

Before we start this week’s Bengals offensive film review, let me just say yes, I’m aware there were some key defensive lapses that contributed to the loss. But I am focussing on the offensive film room, so none of that matters here. My write up deals with the cards the offense was dealt and how they played them. And while they hung around the table for a while with New England, the team just wasn’t able to pull the ace out of their sleeve.

#MakeTheRunningGameGreatAgain

Giovani Bernard keeps impressing me week in and week out. But it wasn’t just him. The entire offensive line, at least early on, showed me some glimpses of their former form. For a second I thought this was the 2014 offense that obliterated front sevens in the running game. I hope you noticed as well. If not, take a look.

It’s a pretty basic NFL run at first. The Bengals line up and try to run power out of the pistol formation. New England does a nice job of following the pulling guard and blowing up the play side angle. What happens after that is what I love. Bernard, on his part, doesn’t waste time dancing in the backfield. He knows the intended hole isn’t there so he plants his foot and goes directly upfield, keeping his feet moving. When he gets hung up, the line comes in to save the day. First Bodine, then Zeitler, then everyone joins in as the pile pushes forward for a gain of 7. Pile pushing is technically illegal, but it’s never going to get called, and it’s an important part of the game. More than the yards it gains, it’s a great tone setter, showing you can out-muscle your opponent. We need more of that!

Andy and A.J. continue to have success

In a season where there are lots of things to put blame on and fingers to point, the blame certainly can’t be directed at the offense’s two marquee players. Dalton continues to be excellent as well as on pace for a career year throwing the ball. Green is also on his A-game, continuing to be a persistent threat, even as the top priority of secondaries. The timing these two have developed is invaluable as displayed here on this particular play.

Dalton and Green both read the coverage here pre-snap and it’s hard not too. Two deep safeties, a linebacker seven yards off the ball, pressed corners, it’s a sure sign of Cover 2. Specifically this turned out to be a Tampa 2 coverage which is evident by how deep the middle linebacker gets at the snap of the ball. Green gets the inside release, which the corner in a Cover 2 is always going to allow (since the edges of the field are the weak point of this coverage, it’s paramount you jam the outside) and sits neatly in the zone underneath the safety. Dalton has the ball on the way as Green gets to his destination and nets a quick 16 yards.

The Fault in Our Football Stars

I literally just picked that title because I wanted to make a cheap movie reference, but this is where we get to the negatives. Some of the issues are the fault of the players, which we’ll see, and others are the fault of some questionable coaching and play calling.

My first grievance is one you probably also remember. Let’s set the scene. It’s 3rd and 1 on the 1 yard line. The Bengals are running the ball fairly well, and are knocking on the door of what would have been a lead-taking touchdown.

This one looks like it’s on Dalton, and Dave Lapham confirmed that it was an audible on Monday. I don’t know what the original play call could have been, but Dalton checks out of it due to the crowded line of scrimmage. He shifts to a shotgun formation and throws a quick fade to A.J. Green on the short side. For a goal line play, it’s not bad; the Bengals have capitalized on that play many times. But it’s a bad ball, and not high enough to allow A.J. to get vertical and make a play on it. I’m a firm believer that the shotgun should be off the table inside the five yard line, because it really takes away any threat of a run. But the offense took the chance and it didn’t pay off. Luckily they’re in four down territory.

What?

The Bengals bring in the heavy package. And by heavy I mean REALLY heavy. Like 322 pound defensive tackle Domata Peko heavy. Why? Because Peko laid out Troy Polamalu one time in 2010 and because of that he’s earned that spot for life. Regardless of the fact that defensive tackles aren’t used to blocking people it just doesn’t make sense. Why? There’s a real fullback in Ryan Hewitt making $7.5 million dollars, who isn’t being used. “Well he can play tight end too” you might say, and you’d be right, so maybe they want him to help shore up the line of scrimmage. That’s a fair point. That is why it makes even less sense that he’s lined up AWAY from the play. Instead they run toward C.J. Uzomah, who can’t block, and exactly what you think would happen, happens.

I could bring up the safety too, but I won’t. That was also atrocious, but the Bengals face the Browns this week, and I’d like to stay optimistic since the team better be able to beat an 0-6 team that’s starting Cody Kessler at quarterback. I’m not just looking for a victory this week. If the Bengals are serious about the 2016 season, they need to thoroughly destroy this next opponent. Cleveland has hung around their games all season, they’re not as bad as the 0-16 Lions were, but they’re still 0-6. If you can’t beat the big dogs (Pittsburgh, New England) you better be able to whip the puppies (sorry, Cleveland).