Any hope of the Cincinnati Bengals turning around their season with the eyes of the nation watching came crashing down on Monday Night Football.
The Queen City cats had an opportunity to grab a signature win against a Pittsburgh Steelers team that seemed to be reeling, but a familiar storyline emerged instead. The boys from Three Rivers absolutely dominated the Bengals, as more questions about the long-term viability of Zac Taylor have started to surface.
After the contest, we took to various media channels to talk about what transpired. Aside from giving our own thoughts, we discussed a number of comments and questions given to us by live listeners.
Once again, the major source of chatter this week surrounded Andy Dalton. The Bengals’ quarterback was harassed by the Steelers defense, as his offensive line allowed eight sacks on the evening. You read that correctly: EIGHT.
After last week’s loss in Buffalo, fans’ crosshairs were set on Dalton because of some familiar issues. This week, instead of torches and pitchforks, the theme was far more sympathetic.
Cincinnati’s offensive line is an absolute mess right now and Pittsburgh’s aggressive front made nearly every starter, and even backups (Billy Price) look silly. The Bengals are without Jonah Williams and Cordy Glenn, whose presence would greatly boost the unit, if healthy, but even so, we’re not sure they would be a cure-all.
The offensive line problems highlight two glaring problems within the organization. First of all, it spotlights the team’s recent failures in drafting both talented starters and capable backups.
They reached for Price last year and the former Ohio State standout can’t even crack a line littered with cast-offs and backups. Three years earlier, the Bengals thought they had drafted their next set of bookend tackles in Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher. Those selections, coupled with the allowance of both Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler to leave are decisions from which the franchise has never recovered.
On one hand, you can credit the Bengals with investing first-round picks in both 2018 and 2019 on the offensive line, while also swinging a trade for a starting tackle last offseason. However, the moves for Price, Glenn and Williams also all point to the organization’s longstanding shortcomings in the scouting and medical staffs.
The second problem, which is occurring at the most important position on the team, is regression by Dalton. Unfortunately, these symptoms are part of a domino effect from the poor play up front.
No. 14 is showing happy feet and is eager to bail out of the pocket at any inkling of pressure. In years past, Dalton would sometimes roll out and make a play. This year, however, once he avoids pressure, his eyes are down and throw-aways are more prevalent.
Additionally, the pressure is forcing Dalton to do three other things: not put as much velocity on the ball, throw it off-target and force poor throws.
Have you noticed that, in the past two weeks, many of Dalton’s throws are behind his receivers? How about the red zone interception on Monday night?
Dalton should hold a lot of blame for his play, but this offensive line has him playing at one of the lowest levels of his career. And, shame on the Bengals organization for not keeping up their end of the bargain in propping him up with ample talent, as they promised.
Some other topics on the postgame reaction episode:
- What was with the play-calling on both offense and defense last night? Zac Taylor was totally uncreative, while Lou Anarumo had guys like Sam Hubbard playing zone coverage at times.
- Is the major problem with the Bengals a lack of talent, or is it a lack of effort?
- What needs to be done and by when for things to turn around in the Taylor regime?
Our thanks for those who joined us late on Monday night after the contest and for those who listened to the material afterward. Join us on The Orange and Black Insider’s YouTube channel and Cincy Jungle’s Facebook account.
All Orange and Black Insider content is available here on CJ, the Stitcher, Spotify and Google Play Music apps, our YouTube channel, as well as through Megaphone and, as always, on iTunes! You can tweet us @BengalsOBI or get in touch with us via email at email@example.com. Thanks for listening and go subscribe to our channels!