The Bengals have won a football game. This is not a drill.
The phrase “team win” gets thrown around quite a bit in the NFL, but this truly was a team win. Did Andy Dalton’s return help the Bengals? Absolutely. But every other unit on the team played the best game they had all season.
The defense gave up six only points, which is not bad for the worst overall defense in the league. The offensive line kept Dalton upright, which was another huge help.
The strange thing about this is, the Jets were red-hot coming into this game. The offense scored 34 points in each of their previous three games, while only averaging 16 points given up on defense—including only giving up three against the Raiders the week before.
How did the Bengals do it? How did they totally dominate on offense and keep this offense to six points?
The defensive line can turn it on anytime
The Bengals’ defensive line is one of the units with the most money invested in it on the team, yet they have been having a rough season.
They turned things around against the Jets, though. Carlos Dunlap, especially, had his best game of the year. Dunlap had seven tackles, three sacks, three tackles for a loss, one pass defended, and six quarterback hits.
Sam Hubbard recorded five tackles and a sack, while Geno Atkins recorded four. Not to mention, Andrew Brown forced a hold that resulted in a safety.
This pressure on Sam Darnold allowed the Bengals defense to keep everything in front of them, which prevented the Jets from breaking out any big plays. The less time the Bengals gave Darnold to throw, the less time receivers had to get open.
Potential is still high for the tight ends
The Bengals wide receiver group remained thin with A.J. Green and John Ross III still sidelined with injury for this game Tyler Boyd and Auden Tate had great games, but they needed help.
C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Eifert had eight targets between them and caught six of them. The two targets that weren’t catches were dropped touchdowns, one from Uzomah and one from Eifert. Uzomah had the far more productive day with five receptions and 51 yards, and even though he dropped an easy touchdown pass, he was a key player on offense.
With Ross and maybe even Green returning to the field soon, it’ll be interesting if Uzomah and Eifert continue getting opportunities.
Andy Dalton is still capable in the right opportunities
It was easy to be impressed by Dalton after watching three straight games of Ryan Finley. After all, this was probably the first game all year where the offense completely dominated the opposing team.
But Dalton is still the same quarterback that went 0-8 in the first half of the season. The Bengals won because the whole team improved. Even the play calling on offense and defense was better.
This shouldn’t stop the Bengals from trying to get a quarterback in the draft. Despite the win, the Bengals still have a solid lead for the first overall pick in 2020, so they could have their pick of whoever they want.
While Dalton is better than Finley, he’s probably not the long term solution that Zac Taylor is looking for.