The Bengals are coming off a Thursday night victory over the Dolphins. Helping the Bengals win their game was the return of star linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Marvin Lewis talked about these topics in his press conference. So we ask ourselves, what did he say, and more importantly, what did he mean?
Lewis Opening Comments: ... our quarterback in the first 20 plays, threw five passes on what we had called as running plays, which shows his ability to handle the offense and understand it. He was four out of five on those throws. We give him the liberty to do that, and later it led to a touchdown. He continues to do a good job on his decision making, accuracy, and running the offense with good tempo.
Our commentary: When your running backs average 2.9 yards per carry against a porous Dolphins run defense, it’s no wonder your quarterback would switch to passing plays. Unfortunately, on that first drive, Dalton had three passes for no gain after they got to first and 10 at the Dolphins’ 24, and on the next drive Dalton was one of two for -1 yards, so it’s not all roses.
Question: Were you surprised to see Vontaze Burfict with 75 percent of the plays?
Lewis Comments: I was told he played only 27 plays. (Official gamebook says 36 out of 45). I don’t really care how many he plays. He was able to handle what we asked him to handle...Part of getting back into football conditioning is playing football...
Our commentary: 75 percent, 27 plays, 36 plays, whatever. You have your difference maker back on defense, and he is making a difference. It’s like that presidential campaign slogan, Burfict is “Making the Bengals defense great again”.
Question: Does A.J. Green seem like someone who can handle everything thrown on him, even if you didn’t want to do that?
Lewis Comments: You can’t go into the game and rely on that. He plays a position that if the defense wants to keep you from touching the football, they can do that. We have to keep figuring out ways to keep them from doing that. Like a three-point shooter, you want to give him his shots as much as he can. We can’t do it at the expense of losing the football game or turning the ball over.
Our commentary: An elite wide receiver is worth more than just the production you see next to his name. If he can draw away extra coverage, it opens up other receivers. And if he draws defensive pass interference, it can work as well as a reception. The boost which Green provides the team can’t be understated. It’s like they say, “You give an offense a fish, and they have a good play. You give them A.J. Green, and they can move the ball for themselves.” Or something like that.
Question: Andy Dalton seems to be throwing the ball a lot, but has been productive with it...
Lewis Comments: His vertical throws...count for the yards per attempt. His ability to throw the ball based on the look has been really good as always...
Our commentary: After playing the role of captain obvious with the point that Dalton’s passing counts toward his passing yards per attempt, Lewis gives us some relevant information. Dalton is reading the defenses and taking the passes which the defense gives him.
Question: What has changed in him, with his decreasing amount of interceptions?
Lewis Comments: A lot of times people get into his mind that he has to throw the ball to number 18...It’s about reading it out and letting it happen... to the design of the play and where the weakness of what we perceive in the coverage is. Accurate throws come from clean pockets and everyone on the same page down the field in the routes.
Our commentary: Give a quarterback time to throw, and he can make accurate passes to a spot. Give a quarterback some receivers who have the same understanding in regards to which defensive coverage dictate which routes, and therefore, what spots to be at, and you have a successful passing game. It’s much like that classic game of Connect 4. You just can’t force four red chips in a row to start the game. You have to fit them in based on where your opponent gives you spots for them.
Question: Do you think Tyler Eifert will play vs. Dallas?
Lewis Comments: We’ll see.
Our commentary: Lewis makes a huge assumption here. He is assuming that we won’t see the end of the world between now and Sunday, because if that does happen, then we won’t see if Eifert plays against the Cowboys. The infamous Nostradamus predicted the world should have already ended, as did Jim Jones. Other end of the world predictions that have passed include New Agers Ruth Montgomery and Edgar Cayce. Charles Taze Russell and his Jehovah’s Witnesses have made so many end times predictions that it’s kind of old hat for them. Even the Mayans were dragged into the realm of “end of the world” prophecies. At some point, somebody has to be right, don’t they? So maybe the world ends before Sunday? Maybe not? But Lewis is making an assumption that it won’t.
Question: Zampeze has had to adjust to a lot of new personnel ...
Lewis Comments: With LaFell and Boyd the new guys, and Kroft, Uzomah, and Ogbuehi, the guys who have played one year here, there’s a variety of newness. If you look across the offense, there’s six-seven guys at times that are brand new to the fold.
Our commentary: The Bengals have the same offensive line, the same quarterback, the same running back, the same tight ends, and the same fullback as they had last year. They also have the same top wide receiver. For all that is said going from last year to this year, the only new pieces on the roster are the secondary receivers.
I’m not sure I follow Lewis’ math regarding the number of new starters on the field at a time. On every single play (non-injury adjusted) you have Dalton, Whitworth, Boling, Bodine, and Zeitler, who all started last season. That is five players. In addition you have at least one of Bernard and Hill, so that takes you up to at least six. And you just about always have Green, except maybe on a jumbo package, which would include Hewitt, so that takes you up to at least seven. So at the bare minimum, you have seven returning starters on the field on offense at any time. Seven out of eleven makes four new starters. So at the most, you have four new starters on the field at any time on offense. The only way you can get to six or seven is if you are playing with 13 or 14 players on the field. And while the Bengals may need 13 or 14 players on the field to solve their red zone woes, that’s not permissible.