Fans and media say that Andy Dalton needs to be benched for this offense to get back on track, and that he’s also is to blame for the Cincinnati Bengals failing to score a touchdown in the first two games of the season.
Is he really the one to blame? I think there are more layers to this than that. I doubt Inserting AJ McCarron fixes all the other issues the Bengals had over the first two weeks.
One of the most obvious issues to anyone who has watched the Bengals play is the poor offensive line play. The Bengals lost Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler in free agency this year, and it shows. In Week 1, Dalton was sacked five times, and he was pressured more than that.
Dalton, like most quarterbacks, performs better when they can stay on their spot after dropping back. If he is consistently forced to run out of the pocket, it throws the whole rhythm to the offense off.
One of the other issues was corrected after the Bengals’ loss to the Texans. The Bengals fired Ken Zampese after a lackluster start to the season. In two games, the Bengals scored a total of nine points. The Bengals don’t have any major injuries to offensive weapons like last season, and Zampese had a whole offseason to cover up the issue of the offensive line.
There are good teams in the NFL with bad offensive lines, but they cover it up through scheme and play calling. Zampese failed to do this knowing full well what he was throwing Dalton and this offense into.
It wasn’t like the offensive line showed signs of light during training camp. All we heard were reports of the Bengals defense getting sacks after sacks on quarterbacks. That should’ve been concerning, and it should’ve shown it was time to change some stuff up. Hopefully, Bill Lazor has a better plan for this.
I felt this next reason needed to be separated from Zampese, because Marvin Lewis deserves some blame for this as well. The best offensive players aren’t playing. John Ross was hurt Week 1, but sitting him after a fumble in his debut game is unacceptable.
It becomes that much worse when Tyler Boyd was a healthy scratch leaving Dalton with Alex Erickson as the lone slot receiver. Now, I like Erickson, but you just essentially benched a first and second round pick while being on the verge of going 0-2. That is unacceptable.
Also, this facade of having Jeremy Hill being anything more than a short yardage back is getting frustrating. It is time to really give Joe Mixon a shot to show what he’s got.
The last reason Dalton isn’t solely to blame for the Bengals’ 0-2 start is to just look at the defenses he has gone up against. The Ravens forced another five turnovers against the Browns in Week 2, and the only reason Houston lost in Week 1 is because Jacksonville got out to a lead early thanks to Tom Savage being a disaster.
That allowed Once the lead was built by the time DeShaun Watson came in, Jacksonville was able to exhaust the Texans by running it down the their throats the rest of the game. These defenses would’ve eaten McCarron alive if he was thrown out there instead.
All four of these things combined would make rough sledding for most quarterbacks in the league. Still, I’m not saying Dalton is absolved of any blame. He is one of the only quarterback to start both weeks and fail to throw a touchdown. The only other quarterback to do that is Brian Hoyer. The pressure has gotten to Dalton so much that he’s started running out of the pocket if his first read isn’t there.
Dalton deserves blame, but if you think benching him magically makes all these other problems go away, you’re wrong.