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Bengals Bytes (9/19): High on hope

Among all the 0-2 teams the Bengals are one of the teams with the most hope to turn it around. Tyler Eifert’s status is still uncertain for Week 3. Hue Jackson is still showing support for his quarterback after he struggled against the Ravens.

NFL: Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Among 0-2 teams, Bengals, Chargers and Browns have most hope for 2017
0-no! Fans of teams that are winless two weeks into the NFL season might be looking ahead to next year already. And history shows it's hard to blame them. However, those squads can take solace in this. At least one 0-2 team in each of the past four seasons has overcome that slow start to make the playoffs.

Hobson's Choice: in search of points
I do think the O-line is going to get better but I think they can help them get better with some adjustments. More max protection, more plays that fit their athleticism (screens, traps, draws), and more runs by the same backs. In fact, less churning of personnel may help everyone. The best thing I heard Sunday is the great Steelers analyst Tunch Ilkin talking about Pittsburgh running back Le’Veon Bell during the win over Minnesota.

TDBH: Sam trades finesse for force as Bengals’ run game mauls Browns’ elite defense
James Brooks jets for 118 yards and Larry Kinnebrew smashes for 94 more and three touchdowns as the Bengals running backs whose weights are nearly 100 yards apart mastermind a Thursday nighter in a 30-13 victory over the Browns’ highly-regarded defense. Bengals head coach Sam Wyche checks his funky finesse formations at the door and watches his club rip the defending AFC Central champions’ swaggering defense with 257 rushing yards, the fourth most in club history. “My forearms are killing me,” says wide receiver Cris Collinsworth of his numerous blocking assignments. “But if we win it 30-13 every week, they can run The Wishbone.”

McCarron: "He's our quarterback"
It took seven seasons for the Green-Dalton regime to generate any controversial headlines, hard to do since it came to be in the golden age of social media. Now in the wake of the Ken Zampese firing the nationals are making up for lost time with a wave of conjecture that Dalton is on the verge of being benched in favor of AJ McCarron. McCarron isn’t having any part of it and as the players reacted to the first time to Bill Lazor replacing Zampese as offensive coordinator after Monday’s walk-through, he asked for the fans to get off Dalton’s case.

TDBH: Speedy’s 90-yarder grounds Eagles in opener
What is still the second longest pass in Bengals history at the 50thanniversary celebration almost never gets off the ground on the first drive of a second half that finds them holding tenuously to a 10-7 lead over the Eagles in today’s season opener at Riverfront Stadium. As quarterback Virgil Carter scans a second-and-nine from his 10, he calls a timeout because they’re in the wrong formation and he doesn’t want to try to audible and risk a delay of game flag so deep in their own end. The new play that is sent in is a play-action pass and after Carter fakes a handoff to running back Essex Johnson, he straightens and finds wide receiver Speedy Thomas wide open down the sideline and drops it on his left shoulder for a 90-yard TD catch that gives them a 17-7 lead and sparks a 37-14 victory before 55,880.

Taking the offensive
Left guard Clint Boling, in a line of proud offensive linemen stretching back to Pro Bowlers Andrew Whitworth and Willie Anderson, back to Hall-of-Famer Anthony Munoz, even back to Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham, is ready to begin this sudden new era of offense. He’s volunteering his guys to carry their share of the load in order to rejuvenate the running game. “I’d like to hope so. We’ve got three talented backs and hopefully we can get into a rhythm with those guys and be able to keep ourselves out of some tough situations,” said Boling, the O-line's de facto captain after Monday’s practice, the D-Day cloud of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese’s Friday firing hovering over a club preparing for the Packers Sunday in a 4:25 p.m. game at Lambeau Field.

The Bengals Still Have Plenty Of Problems On Offense
Ken Zampese’s 18-game tenure as Bengals offensive coordinator effectively ended late Thursday night, when star wide receiver A.J. Green went off about the unit’s rather staggering ineptitude so far this season. Zampese was fired Friday afternoon, just two games into the 2017 season. It’s hard to tell, as CBS’s Amy Trask noted over the weekend, whether the Bengals knew for a while that Zampese was a problem—if so, Trask said, “that’s a problem”—or if they simply needed somebody’s head to roll after Green spoke up. Whatever the reason, something had to be done.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Green Bay Packers: By the numbers
The offense has managed just nine points in two games. That’s the lowest two-game total since 2000 when the duo of Akili Smith and Scott Mitchell led Cincinnati to just seven points over an 0-3 start. This dubious lack of results led to the firing of Ken Zampese on Friday.

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert uncertain for Week 3
After a loss to the Houston Texans last Thursday night, the Cincinnati Bengals are 0-2 without an offensive touchdown on two home games this season. Offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was fired on Friday, and now according to Adam Schefter of ESPN tight end Tyler Eifert is dealing with back and knee issues. Injuries are nothing new for Eifert, as a back issue which required surgery ended his 2016 season early and an ankle injury suffered in the Pro Bowl delayed the start of the campaign for him.

AFC North Bytes

Winners and Losers of Pittsburgh Steelers' Week 2 Performance
The Pittsburgh Steelers remain undefeated through two weeks of the 2017 NFL season, thanks to their 26-9 win over the visiting Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. But like their Week 1 win against the Cleveland Browns, it was not a perfect performance. Here are the Steelers' players and positions that were winners and those that were losers following the victory.

Hue Jackson: 'The sky is not falling' because DeShone Kizer struggled
The migraine that forced rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to miss about one quarter of the Cleveland Browns' loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday has cleared, but his ego remained bruised. “That was one of my worst performances ever in any sport I’ve ever played,” Kizer said Monday.

Brandon Carr proving to be a fantastic free agent signing for Ravens
When the Ravens entered the 2017 free agent window, most expected the brass to bolster the offense. Contrary to popular opinion, the Ravens decided to invest in the defensive side of the ball. Both free agent Dallas Cowboy cornerbacks were available on the market. Morris Claiborne was heavily linked with the Ravens but it was his teamate Brandon Carr that was evantually signed to a one year deal with ad-ons that could take it up to a four year deal.

Random Bytes

Marshawn Lynch dances for Oakland Raiders; NFL Week 2
Week 2 NFL awards, quotes of the week, a revealing stat in the Bengals’ bad start, 10 Things I Think, a Monday night prediction and much more.

College football player keeps stealing opponents’ towels from their pants
During Ohio’s game against Kansas in Week 3, there was a pretty hilarious moment at the end of a play. When it was blown dead, Ohio safety Javon Hagan straight up stole Kansas receiver Quan Hampton’s towel from the back of his pants. The best part — we know this because Hagan outed himself by posting a video of it on his Twitter account.

NFL Power Rankings: Where Does Every Team Stand Heading into Week 3?
Offensive line play is extremely important. I only started one playoff game in my NFL career, but I can tell you that a strong line was a big part of the reason I was able to. That group gave me the time to find guys like Joey Galloway deep downfield, and it opened big holes for Cadillac Williams all season long. The next year, though, we lost some of the guys on that line, and the team struggled. We went from an 11-5 team in 2005 to a 4-12 club the following season.