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Film Room: Bengals’ offense sputters against Texans’ top defense

The Texans defense got the best of Andy Dalton and company on Christmas Eve

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

It wouldn’t take a football expert to tell you that the Bengals’ offense did not play well on Saturday night. With A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, and Giovani Bernard all out due to injury, and a disheveled offensive line missing starter Clint Boling, the unit definitely was not in sync for primetime. The team’s two young offensive tackles both struggled, which prevented anything resembling a running attack from being established. Watching the game for a second time, I was hoping to see some hidden gems of plays - signs of hope that I may have missed the first time while taking part in my Christmas merriment. I found none of those things. Outside of the 86-yard Brandon LaFell touchdown there just weren’t many (or any) eye popping plays, which speaks to how bad of a game it was. Therefore, today, we’ll focus in on the pretty stellar LaFell touchdown from the fourth quarter of the Bengals’ loss to the Texans.

This is a quick, one-read play that was intended for LaFell specifically. LaFell is at the top of the screen, running a slant pattern underneath the dog route by slot receiver Tyler Boyd. C.J. Uzomah is running a lazy corner route, just trying to rub the safety to open up LaFell underneath him. The receivers at the bottom of the screen are just taking position toward the numbers, not going downfield so as to take the corners defending them out of position to stop LaFell. This opens up an easy catch and run for LaFell as he gets a perfectly placed ball from Andy Dalton. LaFell catches the ball in stride and turns on the jets, simply out running the defenders for the last 80 yards of the 86 yard touchdown.

Unsurprisingly, yet sadly, Andy Dalton had a clean pocket for the throw. Since it’s a quick drop and throw if he was even close to being hit it would be an absolute travesty that probably deserved its own article. It’s mostly sad because these are the looks the team has needed to go with all year to assure that Dalton stays on his feet. He gets rid of the ball quicker than almost every quarterback in the league and the number of hits he takes is way too high considering the quickness of most of these pass plays.

But seriously, that’s it. Don’t get me wrong it was a wonderful touchdown, but there were no other offensive plays of note that I believed were worth taking the time to break down. Everything else just wasn’t effective. It’s a credit to the defensive unit Houston has at the moment. If they had some decent quarterback play and a healthy Lamar Miller I think they could do some actual damage in the playoffs. Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus are no joke with their pass rush this season.

Other notes from this week:

  • Cedric Ogbuehi looked bad, but better than he ever did at right tackle. I’m reserving judgement for another week as to if I think he has potential or not. Clowney was the only guy that really worked Ogbuehi this week, but everyone who has gone up against Clowney has been getting worked by him in 2016.
  • Jake Fisher looked even worse. He had a fairly respectable first week starting against the Steelers, but Mercilus and Clowney were way too fast for Fisher to handle.
  • Brandon LaFell needs to be retained. He’s more than earned himself a second contract, even before this week, but it’ll be up to LaFell if he wants to stay.
  • If the Bengals were to try and deal the often injured Tyler Eifert, I think Uzomah could become almost as effective as Eifert in this offense. In the red zone, Eifert is still a much better option, but the best ability is availability and Eifert is rarely available.

I’ll see you all next week for one final offensive film recap after the Ravens game. Hopefully the team puts together a much more effective offensive day so I can provide some better analysis. I hope you all had a Merry Christmas or *insert your holiday here* and have a very happy new year!