Here’s what we learned from the Bengals astonishing 31-7 win over the Browns.
Bill Lazor is helping Andy Dalton
This season has been a tale of two offenses. Andy Dalton showed that he can lead the offense when he finally broke through to the end zone in Week 3 against the Packers. His dominance continued in Week 4 as he threw for four touchdowns and a rating of 146. Lazor is helping Dalton return to his Pro Bowl caliber form that Bengals fans have come to expect. While looking totally overmatched in the first two weeks, he has turned the season around with Lazor.
Andy Dalton in 2 games since Bill Lazor became #Bengals offensive coordinator: 46-for-57, 498 yards, 6 TD, 0 INT, passer rating = 138.1— Dan Hoard (@Dan_Hoard) October 2, 2017
This is compared to his completion rate of 36/66, 394 yards, no touchdowns, four interceptions, and a rating of 47.2 from the first two weeks.
Andy Dalton bounced back with a big performance today pic.twitter.com/wWyH1qu9dn— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 1, 2017
Dalton has turned his season around to the point that if the season were to end today, his 2017 passer rating of 90.6 would be the third best in his career.
Bill Lazor is helping the offensive line
On Dalton’s first dropback, right tackle Jake Fisher allowed Emmanuel Ogbah to get by and force the quarterback to fumble.
After that, Andre Smith cycled through right tackle and helped give Dalton some protection. Lazor started rotating tackles in Week 3 and continue doing so. Smith, who actually started the game at left tackle, subbed in for Fisher as he was also sharing the left tackle spot with Cedric Ogbuehi. Lazor has been given very little to work with at the offensive line, but he is doing an admirable job trying to make the best out of a bad situation. We’ll see if the line is something Lazor wants to address in the offseason.
Bill Lazor is helping the backup tight ends
Eifert Kroft was a machine on Sunday, leading the Bengals in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns. The third-year tight end had one career touchdown coming into Sunday’s clash against the Browns and finished the game with two.
This is significant because Tyler Eifert never seems to get to 100 percent healthy. In years past when Eifert was injured, the tight end position was more or less a non-factor.
But with the emergence of Kroft as a pass-catching threat, opposing defenses will have more weapons to worry about. When Eifert returns, it will only be a matter of time before the Bengals call on Kroft and C.J. Uzomah.
Kroft had not been seen as a pass-catching tight end. Some of the catches he made on Sunday would prove otherwise. With a struggling offensive line, it will be important to have both a catching and a blocking tight end to replace Eifert.
Bill Lazor needs to help the running backs
The Bengals have too much talent to average 2.9 yards a carry. When Dalton’s 29 yards leads the team in rushing, it is time to rethink the running game.
Lazor has done a great job helping Dalton and the passing game. He has done good work with the offensive line. Considering the full work load Lazor had in front of him; we can forgive him for neglecting some parts of the offense. For now.
The Bengals have made great progress, but one thing that will kill the momentum will be turning the Bengals into a one-dimensional offense. The offensive line has a huge part to play, no doubt, considering that most of the time the running backs had nowhere to go. But whatever the reason, we need to see Joe Mixon rush for more than 1.7 yards per attempt.
The young defensive backs are getting opportunities
Adam Jones only played 15 snaps on Sunday. Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and William Jackson each played roughly 50 snaps, while Josh Shaw contributed 33. While Jackson did give up a couple penalties, he and Dennard held their own.
This is encouraging for Bengals fans should one of the starters go down with injury or should Father Time catch up with Jones.
Even Clayton Fejedelem played two dozen snaps and created the only Bengals turnover. This is good news because the safety position seems especially vulnerable to injury this year.