The Bengals are heading into their Week 9 bye with a much less impressive record than they were hoping for at this point in the season. At 3-4-1, the Bengals need to make something happen to bring winning back to the equation. That may require serious changes to the way the team does things this year. From personnel changes to game plan changes, there are plenty of things the Bengals could do to try to get back on track.
Bench Cedric Ogbuehi
It wouldn’t be he first time it has happened this year. The Bengals first benched Ogbuehi in the third quarter against the New England Patriots after an offensive holding call essentially set the Bengals up for a devastating safety. And since then, they’ve continued to bench him on and off. He hasn’t committed any other penalties this season, but he is still giving up pressures and continues to be the primary reason the Bengals’ rank No. 2 in sacks allowed (25).
Obviously, a player with Ogbuehi’s potential needs to play through his issues so he can learn and get better. As of right now, he is the team’s future at the right tackle position, so the Bengals don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize his long-term effectiveness. But, benching him for a few games could give him time to sit back and reflect on what he needs to improve while watching a more consistent veteran like Eric Winston show him how to play.
Pressure Paul Guenther
I’m not going to officially call for Guenther to be fired just yet. The last thing the Bengals need in the middle of the season is to jettison a guy like Guenther, who is both well liked and has been an effective coach at times.
But, the fact that the Bengals’ defense ranks ninth worst in yards allowed (378.5), 13th worst in points per game (23.6), and 10th worst in penalties (57) shows that coaching has been poor. The Bengals’ defense has been inconsistent through Guenther’s whole tenure as defensive coordinator and has been downright awful at times in 2016. If no pressure at all is put on Guenther’s position, it’s hard to imagine the coaching improving much, if at all.
Run the ball more
As I explored after the Bengals’ loss to the Broncos in Week 3, the Bengals do much better when they at least attempt to run the ball consistently - regardless of the effectiveness of the running game itself. We saw this perfectly in Week 7 when the Bengals dominated the game when the running backs ran the ball more than the offense attempted passing plays (30 run plays to 28 passing plays), then barely managed to tie the Redskins when the running backs ran less than the team passed (31 run plays with 42 passing plays).
The Bengals’ running game has been steadily getting more effective as the season has gone along, so it would make a lot of sense for the Bengals to continue to ride the hot hands, or feet, of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. Even third string running back Rex Burkhead can be effective when given the chance.
Sound off, Bengals fans! Let us know which idea you think makes the most sense in the poll below!