While the loss to the New York Jets was disappointing, the season rolls on and the Bengals are still in great position. Still undefeated in the division, they play host to the Cleveland Browns this weekend.
Here is what they need to do to get back on top.
The two most fundamental skills in football are blocking and tackling (we’ll get to that one in a minute).
The Browns’ defensive line was a big problem for the Bengals last season. This year needs to be different.
The Bengals must figure out a way to keep Myles Garrett and crew away from Joe Burrow and open up holes for Joe Mixon. This is paramount to their success this week and moving forward this season. Despite last week’s hiccup, the team has shown improvement in this area. This offense cannot be productive unless they can get the Joes going. They must have good blocking.
In two matchups against the Cleveland Browns last season, Burrow threw the ball 108 times, picking up 722 yards. This game is likely to be a shootout, so Burrow’s arm better be well-rested.
Coming off of a disappointing loss a week ago, the Bengals need to rally around their leader. Burrow needs to step up to the challenge and lead this team to victory.
Chase vs. Ward
Rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is already establishing himself as one of the league’s best receivers. In eight games, Chase has caught 38 passes for 786 yards and seven touchdowns. His best game came when he was matched up against one of the league’s most prolific cornerbacks, Marlon Humphrey. Now he will be matched up with another elite talent, Cleveland’s Denzel Ward.
This promises to be a very fun matchup to watch.
The Bengals need to get a big day out of Chase to win this one. When the offense has struggled this season, a big time connection from Burrow to Chase has gotten things rolling. Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and C.J. Uzomah are all important parts of the passing game, but Chase needs to continue making big plays for this offense to have success.
The Browns are known for their ability to run the ball, particularly the wide zone scheme. They execute this scheme extremely well and roll over teams as the game goes on. The Bengals defensive line has been excellent this season, but struggled last week.
They need to be up to the challenge against the Browns.
Last year, the Bengals were out-matched and out-classed in the trenches, but this is not the same team. They have got the talent on the defensive line to go toe-to-toe with this offensive line.
It should be an epic battle between these two units.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Bengals’ missed tackle percentage last weekend was 17. That’s bad, but it’s not the worst of the season for Cincinnati. It was narrowly beaten out by their tackling performances against both the Packers (17.1%) and the Vikings (17.2%).
Notice a trend?
This defense has exceeded expectations, but when they have struggle in the most fundamental aspect of defense, the team loses.
This is extremely important as they prepare to for Nick Chubb and the Browns’ potent rushing attack.
They must tackle.
Bengals missed tackles and MT% by game (via @PFF):— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) November 1, 2021
Vikings (W): 8 – 10.3%
Bears (L): 11 – 17.2%
Steelers (W): 11 – 13.4%
Jaguars (W): 6 – 9.8%
Packers (L): 13 – 17.1%
Lions (W): 5 – 8.8%
Ravens (W): 8 – 12.9%
Jets (L): 15 – 17.0%
Notice common % thread between wins/losses?