It’s getting to the point that the team is almost as bad as they were prior to firing Ken Zampese. Now, Zampese was definitely a problem, but the timing of his firing meant that he was probably nothing more than a scapegoat for offense’s impotence to start 2017.
Let me also add that this blame shouldn’t necessarily be placed now on Bill Lazor either. When Lazor was given the reigns of the offense, the regular season was already in full swing. This mean Lazor is forced to use Zampese’s plays and overall philosophy. Really, the only thing Lazor could truly overhaul is the play calling.
Things started out well for Lazor, as the team was able to gather some nice performances in his first weeks at the helm. A few weeks into his tenure, it seems that teams are already beginning to figure him out.
I firmly believe that, while Lazor isn’t the problem, he certainly isn’t the solution. He’s made the offense good enough to squeak out wins against bad competition, but still not good enough to truly contend against formidable defenses. If the game on Sunday couldn’t convince you, maybe the fact that the Bengals had possession of the ball for under 20 minutes in that game will.
But let me try to find some of the bright spots anyway. It’s a long ride to get through the rest of the season.
Mixon Making Moves
Joe Mixon was going up against the worst run defense in the league, and was able to find some holes, but not nearly as many as he should have. This is largely because he didn’t get many holes (thanks again offensive line), but when he does get lanes he makes the most of it.
Mixon isn’t having the statistical breakout year that people were probably hoping he would as a rookie. That much is certain. He’s still a special back with the ball in his hands however, as you can see on a couple of runs every week. To me, Mixon’s best skill is his vision and instincts. He knows when to take a cutback lanes, where defenders are pursuing to, and how to find space.
I think it’s clear Mixon can’t reach his full potential running behind a line as poor as this team’s has been, but I feel confident that Mixon truly is the player the Bengals thought he was when they took him.
Tyler Kroft has been great since Tyler Eifert was declared out for the rest of the season so he could take a much needed surgery. I don’t think with the constant health problems that Eifert will be in this franchise’s long term plans, but I think Kroft certainly will be.
Kroft has blossomed into a capable starting tight end in this league if not a very exciting one. He isn’t the pure vertical threat that Eifert is, but Kroft is still capable of producing a big play every once in awhile. He’s also steadily becoming a better blocker on the edge and it’s really hard to find guys who do both well at the NFL level.
Folks, I have to tell you, this was the weirdest week in the NFL that I’ve seen in a long time. Three separate fights broke out in the league this week and A.J freaking Green was a part of one of them. I wouldn’t have thought of that in my wildest dreams.
That said, maybe there’s some kind of storied history of AFC South corners wanting to get into fights. Jalen Ramsey is simply learning from those before him like Cortland Finnegan.
I gotta say though, I’m pretty disappointed in Green’s form here on the rear naked choke. I never really saw A.J. as a submission fighter. I figured if he’d be great at anything it’d be using his long reach as an advantage in a stand up boxing type bout.
You’ll notice off the rear choke that A.J. tries to go into a mount position on top of Ramsey for maximum control, which is a smart move. A.J. may not be so green after all, ladies and gentlemen, because that’s a veteran move. I give him 0/10 for control of temper, 8/10 for the game plan, and 6/10 for execution. I think had this fight been allowed to go the distance, A.J. would have won a unanimous decision.
If I were to suggesting anything different it would be to stick to your strengths, much like Andre Johnson does below:
Andre knows he has a size advantage over the angry leprechaun Finnegan. He stays engaged and gets Finnegan on the ground before raining punches from above. The referee makes the smart choice to stop the fight and call it a TKO, because there was no way Johnson was being stopped. Then again, that’s what you get for fighting out of your weight class, folks.
Thankfully A.J. Green won’t be suspending for next week’s game against the Titans. This is likely because having to endure any more of this season up close is the highest form of torture imaginable.