Two weeks into the 2017 NFL Season, the Cincinnati Bengals already have posted two losses.
Although it is still early in the season, it sure feels like something needs to change now if there is going to be any hope of salvaging something respectable. That said, changes seem to be why the Bengals are in this mess to begin with.
After losing so many key free agents after an impressive 2015 season, the Bengals began rebuilding the coaching staff and roster, and they haven’t stopped since. Changes are the name of the game, and the Bengals have already made one major change since Thursday’s awful showing.
Long-time assistant coach and second-year offensive coordinator Ken Zampese got the ax on Friday. It was the first time the Bengals have ever fired a coordinator during the season.
But, it was certainly warranted, as explained by the Associated Press, as the offense has been absolutely putrid this season.
The Texans (1-1) got the most out of their depleted offense, and then let their defense do the rest. The Bengals (0-2) have failed to score a touchdown in their two games to open a season for the first time in their 50 seasons.
The Bengals are the first team since the 1939 Eagles to open a season with two home games and fail to get in the end zone, according to information from the Elias Sports Bureau shared by ESPN.
"I am shocked," coach Marvin Lewis said.
That said, Zampese was not the only one with a target on his back after the poor performance. Reports have also been swirling about dissatisfaction with quarterback Andy Dalton.
It was his week one performance against the Baltimore Ravens (16-of-31 for 170 yards, four interceptions and one fumble) that marked him as a potential target for the frustration of Bengals fans. He looked better against the Texans, although he was still unable to put the ball in the end zone.
Despite not turning the ball over against the Texans, a lot of blame seems to be focusing on Dalton without Zampese to absorb the brunt. Whether or not that is fair, it is, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the way the wind currently seems to be blowing.
After playing two games only four days apart and scoring a grand total of no touchdowns in 120 minutes of football at home and putting coach Marvin Lewis in the throes of a “near mutiny,” the Bengals changed offensive coordinators. Next, they could be changing quarterbacks.
The team insists that quarterback Andy Dalton is safe. But the feeling within the locker room, we’re told, is that the leash isn’t quite so long, and that if the struggles continue under new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor, the next one to go could be Dalton.
It is hard to blame those who are expressing frustration with Dalton. After all, he joins Brian Hoyer of the San Francisco 49ers as the only two NFL quarterbacks with at least 40 passing attempts who have yet to throw a touchdown pass in 2017.
With so many weapons at his disposal, it is hard to justify such ineffective play from a position so often exposed to the spotlight.
That said, it certainly isn’t all Dalton’s fault, as pointed out by Peter King of Monday Morning QB. The state of the offensive line isn’t helping at all.
If we’re compiling a 12.5 Percent of the Season NFL all-pro team, I’d better see Andrew Whitworth get some consideration. Whitworth was Cincinnati’s left tackle last season. With former first-round tackle Cedric Ogbuehi waiting in the wings, the Bengals let Whitworth go to the Rams in free agency, and the decision has had a profound early effect on both teams. Via Pro Football Focus numbers, check out how Whitworth did in the first two Bengals games last season, and how Ogbuehi has done in his first two at left tackle for Cincinnati this year:
In those two games:
Whitworth, pass-blocking errors: 1 per 48 Andy Dalton pass attempts (2 in 96).
Ogbuehi, pass-blocking errors: 1 per 8.7 Andy Dalton pass attempts (9 in 78).
Now for the 2017 performance of Whitworth on the 1-1 Rams. After all, if he’s not playing worth a darn, the fact that the Bengals are awful on offense without him doesn’t mean he merits a nod for his great value.
The PFF numbers for Whitworth’s first two games protecting Jared Goff’s blind side: 61 pass-drops by Goff … one sack allowed … zero hits allowed … zero hurries allowed.
The Bengals’ defense doesn’t seem to be having much of a problem. They haven’t exactly dominated, but they were solid throughout most of Week 1 (save for a rough second quarter), and generally kept the Texans’ offense at bay on Thursday.
The big question seems to be; where are all of these offensive weapons we keep hearing exist on the Bengals roster? Sure, Dalton hasn’t performed great, but he seems to be getting very little help.
The Bengals might be the least-watchable team in the NFL, according to Twitter. Here is just a small sample of the not-so-nice tweets sent out in response to the game.
Texans-Bengals: It’s sort of like watching a construction site where no construction is being done.— Norman Chad (@NormanChad) September 15, 2017