Most of the power rankings entering Week 1 seemed to have the Cincinnati Bengals in the below average range around 20 or lower. It seemed with the teams ahead of them that they could’ve jumped up quite a few spots with a win against the Baltimore Ravens. We all know how that played out though.
After the 20-0 loss against the Ravens, the Bengals seem to be free falling in power rankings. Most of the takes are pretty harsh as well. One of the harshest coming from ESPN who ranked the Bengals 25th.
Andy Dalton posted a 0.6 Total QBR in Week 1, the worst in the NFL. Possible overreaction: Dalton's QBR was only slightly better than Flounder's GPA (0.2) in "Animal House," and that was with a healthy A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and stable of running backs. The Dalton-Marvin Lewis era could be on its last legs.
A lot of rankings cited the most obvious problem, Dalton’s five turnovers including SB Nation who ranked the Bengals the lowest of anyone at 30th.
It’s not like many pegged the Bengals to be a Super Bowl favorite, but what the hell was that? Dalton threw just seven interceptions in 2015 and eight in 2016, and he already has four after one game in 2017. He even intentionally threw a pass out of bounds on fourth down.
It was actually a pretty decent game for the Cincinnati defense in the 20-0 loss, but it’s hard to believe in the team after it was a scoring offense that finished No. 24 in the NFL last year that dragged them to a 6-9-1 record.
I get Dalton is the easy target, and the quarterbacks get most of the blame, but very few even mentioned the more obvious struggles the Bengals have with their offensive line. The Bengals let Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth walk in free agency, and they were missed on Sunday. Dalton spent most of the day running away from Terrell Suggs.
Dalton does deserve some of the blame though. Two of his picks were downright bad, and they seemed to be thrown right to the defenders. The Bengals’ offensive coordinator Ken Zampese deserves blame as well. He threw his offense out there with a very unimaginative game plan relying on his players to just beat their defender in most cases. That didn’t work out. Ravens defenders were jumping routes left and right seeming to know where the ball was intended to be thrown.
All the fingers were pointed at Andy Dalton on the highlight shows, but where was the offensive line? Outside of two nice scampers, the running backs did nada. Growing up in Dallas, I still remember when the Cowboys got shut out 24-zip by a defense that was as frightening as Sunday's Ravens: the old Reggie White-led Eagles. Dallas went 11-5 that year behind an improving offensive line. This Bengals squad ain't going 11-5.
Sports Illustrated ranked the Bengals 27th while CBS Sports ranked the Bengals 24th mentioning the offensive line as well as Marvin Lewis’ job not being safe. Bleacher Report ranked the Bengals 20th, which is easily the highest ranking. They are the sixth highest (0-1) team behind the Patriots, Giants, Seahawks, Titans and Saints.
It is hard to find any positives from Sunday’s game against the Ravens except for the fact that it’s over now, and the Bengals can put it behind them. They can still turn this ship around, but the offensive line needs to give Dalton more time and create some running room. The Bengals offense also needs to spread it out a little more. Possibly getting John Ross back this week could help with that.
After going 6-9-1 last season, the Bengals had to prove to the National media that they were able to turn it around in an offseason. Instead they came out and laid a big old goose egg.
It is hard to say the Bengals are ranked below any team they shouldn’t be. They earned their spot this week, but at least they can quickly turn it around with a chance to play the Texans on Thursday Night Football. If they go out and beat the Texans I’m sure some tunes will change around the league.