In 2015, the Bengals had one of the NFL’s best offenses because of not just an explosive passing game, but they also had a rushing offense capable of helping to carry the load as well.
So far this season, we’ve not see the Bengals be able to establish both the run and pass in one game. We’ve seen one or the other emerge in each of the first three games, but neither has been established in the same game, a big reason why Cincinnati is 1-2 and riding a two-game losing streak.
Dolphins All-Pro defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh sees this, and he knows a big key to Miami winning Thursday will continuing to make the Bengals a one-dimensional offense. However, Suh thinks the key will be keeping the Bengals rushing offense grounded, forcing Andy Dalton and the passing game to shoulder the offensive load.
“They have some good downhill runners. They have two solid (running) backs. Both of them can run the ball,” Suh said Tuesday during a conference call with the media. “One of them is more specialized to get out in the passing and screen game.”
Suh believes stopping Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard is the key to containing Cincinnati’s offense, which will then force Dalton to shoulder the load with a wide receiver group he’s not meshed with well this season.
“At the end of the day, we have to be able to contain both of them and shut down the run and put it on the quarterback’s shoulders, who is obviously capable to win the games. But (we want to) force them to be a one-dimensional team.”
Suh is right to want the Bengals to rely on their passing game, which has been very erratic and inconsistent this season. A.J. Green has gotten 19 targets over the past two games, but has only converted them into 10 grabs for 115 yards and no scores.
That seems alright, but Green needs to do more if he’s going to get that many looks, or other receivers need to step up. Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell combined for just five grabs for 52 yard in the Week 3 loss to the Broncos.
And while the Bengals’ passing offense has potential, the Dolphins defense has enough firepower to make this a long night for Dalton. Miami features Suh and Cameron Wake, who’ve combined for 114.5 career sacks. They can rush the passer and keep Dalton off his game if the ground game can’t get going.
Don’t mistake this for Suh thinking Dalton is not good enough to lead the Bengals offense. He just knows in its current state, Dalton is having a tough time with his supporting cast in keeping this unit moving the ball efficiently.
“He’s (Dalton) been able to get rid of the ball, especially having a big target in No. 18 (A.J. Green).,” Suh said. “At the end of the day, he is experienced. This won’t be my first time going against him. He’s athletic, he can move outside of the pocket. He likes to move up into the pocket and obviously make plays with his feet, as well as his arms. We definitely have a big challenge on our hands.”
There’s no question the Bengals must find more consistency and balance between rushing and passing offense, and it’s clear Miami knows and will try to prevent this.
“I like to hit any and every quarterback that steps up in front of me,” Suh said. “That’s my goal when I go out there on Thursday, to hit (Dalton) him as much as I can.”