Last week the Bengals were handed a rough loss by the Jaguars, but they have a chance at redemption this week against the Titans. Tennessee is currently leading the AFC South with a 5-3 record. The Bengals are 3-5, and are still technically in the hunt. A win against the Titans would keep that hope alive, but a loss may have us focusing more on the upcoming draft than the rest of the season.
Here are five things the Bengals need to do to secure a win against the Titans on Sunday in Tennessee.
Stop the Titans on third down
One of the most frustrating things last week against the Jaguars was watching Jacksonville continually convert third downs. They would literally run the same concept over and over again. The Jaguars ended up converting 12/18 third downs, and they didn’t even have to punt until there was a minute left in the third quarter. The Bengals can’t let that happen again. At some point you need to make an adjustment.
Create manageable third downs on offense
The Bengals’ offense last week couldn’t get anything going all game. They weren’t given too many chances because the Jaguars were dominating the time of possession, but it was just embarrassing to watch. The Bengals only converted one of their eight third downs.
Their struggles are mostly due to being put into third down and long situations. This offense keeps having negative plays that puts them behind schedule. If you think Andy Dalton can sit back their and consistently convert third and nine or more, you’re just wrong. The Bengals need to create more situations where it is third down and five or less yards. That is how you keep drives going.
Get A.J. Green involved
I can’t believe this is a thing that needs to be said. Green is by far the best talent the Bengals have on offense or defense, but this team seems to just look away from him at times. Dalton missed a huge throw to him last week that likely would’ve been a touchdown, and before the half, Green got ejected. Still, over the past three weeks he has seven catches, 74 yards and one touchdown. That is just unacceptable, and it is no wonder that this team has struggled over that stretch.
Slow down the Titans’ running game
Another common theme for the Bengals after the bye week is how this team hasn’t been able to slow down opposing running backs. Last week the Bengals didn’t even have to face Leonard Fournette because the Jaguars were disciplining him, and they still allowed the Jaguars to gain 148 rushing yards against them. That’s how much TOTAL offense the Bengals had. That can’t happen this week with Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray in the Titans’ backfield. The two have combined for over 800 rushing yards and five touchdowns this season. Slowing them down can create third and longs that the Titans would struggle with.
Get Dalton comfortable early
It is no secret that the offensive line has had issues protecting their quarterback this season. It also has been hard to watch Dalton play out of rhythm in games. Last week was tough because the Jaguars’ secondary is so good, and the Bengals’ supporting cast of receivers leaves a lot to be desired.
The Bengals should have a few plays that are just easy completions that get Dalton some timing with his receivers. They should run these plays early in the game, so when they expect him to be able to make these throws later he has some confidence.