Cincinnati eked out a victory Sunday over the Indianapolis Colts, but the mood in the stadium did not seem to reflect the results. There were a lot of empty seats, and the play on the field reflected that – it was like the walking dead out there.
This was just one of the may topics discussed in this week’s version of The Flying Pigskin podcast, which is hosted by Tanya O’Rourke and this week featured panellist Keenan Singleton, along with guest Mo Egger, the host of Sports Talk on 1530 AM.. I will be a weekly feature on the program, as well.
The Flying Pigskin airs every Monday afternoon and we’ll be joining them each week to recap the prior week’s game.
You can listen to this week’s show at any time, and be sure to tune in to get all of the latest news and commentary on your Cincinnati Bengals.
Sunday’s victory over a clearly undermanned Indianapolis Colts team was just a confirmation of what we suspected – the Bengals are just not that good. In order for Cincinnati to be competitive week in and week out, it will have to rely on its defense first, which was not all that good against the Colts, eliminate the mistakes and try to overcome its deficiencies, which may well be easier said than done.
And that is especially true if the Bengals continue to play to the level of their competition. Cincinnati can just not expect to have the kind of performance it put on the field Sunday, both offensively and defensively, and still win games.
Fortunately for the Bengals, they do not run into a lot of great offensive talent over the last nine games of the season. With the exception of the Steelers, there are just not a lot of offenses that scare you. But, until Cincinnati can gets its own offense clicking, it won’t take a lot of offensive production for the opposition to put them in a position to win.
The next three games are on the road for the Bengals, beginning with Jacksonville, which features one of the better defenses Cincinnati will face. The Jaguars have the sixth-best defense in the NFL, one notch behind the Bengals, and have the most sacks of any team in the league. And, for a team that has allowed its quarterback to be sacked 22 times so far this season, and is on pace to surrender 50 sacks this year, that does not bode well.
And it all begins, and ends, with Cincinnati’s offensive line, which just does not seem to be getting any better. There was at least one shining light along that front, however, as guard Trey Hopkins was nearly perfect in pass protection this past week. Now, if just a little dose of that perfection can rub off on the rest of the line, who knows?
The other promising element to come out of the win against Indianapolis was the play of rookie wide receiver Josh Malone, the 6’3”, 207-pound speedster out of Tennessee. Malone, in his first action of the season, made his first catch and added a 25-yard touchdown reception. His 4.4 40 speed provides the compliment to A.J. Green that the Bengals have been looking for.
In fact, Malone’s college stats were on a par with the incomparable Odell Beckham, Jr. OMJ averaged 19.5 yards per catch in his junior and final season at LSU while Malone averaged 19.44 yards per catch in his junior and final season with the Volunteers.
Even before the offense can begin to click, the defense will have to figure out a way to stop the run. Pittsburgh showed other teams the blueprint to beat the Bengals – run it up the gut behind the center for an average of four yards per carry. And throw it to the tight end. Until Cincinnati finds an answer to that, it won’t really matter how efficient its offense becomes.
Finally, those offensive struggles have confirmed one point, and that is that the Bengals need to hang on to one of the best back-up quarterbacks in the league in A.J. McCarron. With all of the hits that Dalton is taking, it is a real possibility that the Bengals may need to look to their backup this season, and McCarron has shown that he can be an NFL quarterback.
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Be sure to tune in to The Flying Pigskin Podcast this week and every week. The show airs live every Monday afternoon. Who Dey! Who Dey All Day!