The Bengals just can’t catch a break.
Going into the Cowboys game, Zac Taylor had a new and improved game plan for Brandon Allen, but was thwarted by his running backs.
Giovani Bernard, who hadn’t fumbled since his rookie season, coughed up the ball on the second play of the game. Then Trayveon Williams, who otherwise played well, fumbled again. When the Bengals finally got to the red zone, Alex Erickson put the ball on the turf after gaining enough yards to convert a fourth-and-one opportunity.
Just when the offense finally got rolling, Allen injured his knee. He stayed in the game, but was in too much pain to make accurate throws. His last throw of the game sent the ball into the front row behind the end zone.
With the offense having the day they had, Andy Dalton got his revenge on Taylor.
So what did we learn from this game?
Brandon Allen could maybe win games for the Bengals
Going into this week, Taylor finally realized that running Joe Burrow’s offense with Brandon Allen wouldn’t work. So they installed a new offense, and it worked out pretty well.
The Bengals used a lot more play action, and they gave Allen a lot of short, high-percentage throws. Allen barely ever threw it further than five yards down field, but the Bengals were still able to move the ball down the field.
Allen had a career day, which is not saying a lot given his career numbers. However, it means his ceiling is higher than we previously thought.
Looks like the book is closed on Brandon Allen. 27/36, 75% 217 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions, 99.0 rating.— Nick Manchester (@NickManchester9) December 13, 2020
All of those numbers are either season or career highs.
No sacks and 20+ completions for the first time in his career
Until they fumbled their possessions away.
Even the best offenses in the NFL can’t win if they fumble every time they get into the red zone. If the Bengals hold onto the ball, the game would have been a lot closer.
When Ryan Finley entered the game, the offense ground to a halt.
If the Bengals are re-thinking their backup situation in the offseason (if they don’t, they should), then they might consider keeping Allen. With the right game plan, Allen could put together a game good enough that the Bengals could find a way to win.
Third quarter struggles continue
The Bengals failed to score in the third quarter against the Cowboys, and had no fumbles to blame it on.
Another week, another scoreless third quarter for the #Bengals— Blake Jewell (@BlakeJewellNFL) December 13, 2020
Makes it 6 games in a row with 0 third quarter points. They’ve been out scored 33-0 in the third since week 7.
The Bengals gained 190 yards on four possessions in the first half, then only 23 yards on two plays in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Bengals did put together one 70-yard drive, but Allen was too banged up to finish it off.
Before, you could somewhat understand the poor second-half performances because the Bengals weren’t really doing well in general. But when the offense started humming late in the first half, then the second half struggles are far more concerning.
Bad second halves of games comes from a lack of adjustments. The other team has already made their adjustments, so if a team can’t score in the second half, they aren’t counter-adjusting.
Of course, it doesn’t help when Finley comes into the game and gains exactly zero yards on the last two drives.
A.J. Green is rounding into form
After three straight games with no receptions, A.J. Green finally got back on track.
It wasn’t his best game of the season on the box score, but he showed flashes of his old self. He made some difficult catches, which is what you pay him $18 million to do.
The way things have gone, it looks like Green will be playing somewhere else next year when his franchise tender expires. He’s still got something left to offer, and there are other NFL teams that would love to employ his services.