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Tuesday Trenches: Victory in defeat

The Bengals set themselves up for their toughest portion of the schedule with a 3-3 record heading into the bye week.

Syndication: The Enquirer Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Cincinnati Bengals, after getting off to a 1-3 start, won their last two games, against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 5 and the Seattle Seahawks in Week 6, to even up their record at 3-3 heading into the Week 7 bye.

Even though it’s early, the Bengals have absolutely saved their season, at least so far. There’s still a lot of football yet to be played.

Their win against the Seahawks on Sunday afternoon was an ugly one, for sure, but I’ll take an ugly win over a pretty loss any day. If the Bengals win the Super Bowl in February, nobody will wring their hands at the quality of their win over the Seahawks in Week 6.

Still, the one thing the loss did, was highlight the troubles the offense is having. While the defense played about as well as they possibly could, the offense, after a hot start, did nothing for the rest of the game.

Here are a few things that stood out to me during the game:

  • The defense showed on Sunday that they are capable of playing at a Super Bowl level. Don’t think for one second that the Seattle Seahawks aren’t a very good offensive team, because they are. Geno Smith has been excellent, and the Seahawks have one of the best trio of wide receivers in the NFL. On top of that, they can run the ball. The Seahawks could only score 13 points because the Bengals defense did their job.
  • The Irv Smith Jr experiment has officially failed. The tight end was only targeted twice, and one of those targets was a drop. It was thrown slightly behind Smith, but the receiver still should have been able to haul the pass in. At this point last season, Hayden Hurst had 178 yards and two touchdowns. The year before that, C.J. Uzomah had 34 yards and no touchdowns, but he missed Week 2 and wasn’t targeted at all in Week 1. So far this season, Irv Smith Jr. has six catches for 32 yards. It’s time for Tanner Hudson and Mitchell Wilcox to get some playing time.
  • The running game isn’t working either. Joe Mixon, once again, had every running back carry except for one, which went to rookie Chase Brown. He had 13 carries for 38 yards, which comes out to 3.2 yards per carry. When the passing game isn’t working, which was the case on Sunday, the run game needs to be able to move the ball down the field. Right now, without Burrow throwing the ball, the offense doesn’t work.
  • The first two drives were great. Burrow moved the ball down the field with ease, and he connected with several different receivers. On his second touchdown pass, he was backpedaling while throwing a perfect pass to Andrei Iosivas for the rookie’s first touchdown reception. He was feeling it. And then he didn’t. The offense wasn’t able to move the ball after that. Even on their third scoring drive, they didn’t move the ball a single yard. They were set up with great field position thanks to a turnover forced by the defense. The inconsistency of this offense is a major issue.

The Bengals are heading into the bye week, so there’s not a team to preview. Instead, here are four changes I think the Bengals need to make before they take on the Niners in Week 9. Just so you know, these are only four. I think there are more that need to be made.

  • Trade for Samaje Perine. The Bengals get a running back the coaches and quarterback trust, who knows the offense, and is known in the locker room. Denver’s season is over already, and they know it. They have no reason to hold on to him, and he wouldn’t be expensive.
  • Moving forward, the tight end depth chart changes. Tanner Hudson is now TE1.
  • Moving forward, I would like to see DJ Turner get the vast majority of the snaps as the starting corner opposite Cam Taylor-Britt. I have a feeling that the plan is already in place, considering the snap share in Week 6, but I want the trend to continue.
  • I’d also like to see more Jordan Battle and a little less Nick Scott. The same goes for Chase Brown. I’d like to see him in more of a change-of-pace role.

Here are some other random thoughts on Week 6:

  • DJ Reader is a bad man. He was nothing short of amazing against the Seahawks. The offensive line had no answers for him.
  • Trey Hendrickson is playing at an All-Pro level and is on pace for more than 20 sacks.
  • Higgins isn’t fully healthy, and the offense isn’t fully functional right now, but this is awful timing for him not to be involved in the offense. He’s in a contract year, and right now, the offense is costing him money.
  • Iosivas’ first career touchdown catch coming on his birthday is awesome.
  • It was also CTB’s birthday.
  • I’d like to see more from Cam Sample at defensive tackle. He had a sack from the interior of the line. If Zach Carter isn’t going to get it done, and right now, it looks like he isn’t, then give Sample a shot.
  • Dax Hill is a future All-Pro defensive back. I hope the Bengals will be able to hold on to him.
  • Once the offense gets going, and I truly believe it will, this team has the ability to beat every team in the league. Going the way things are now, though, they’ll be lucky to get into the playoffs as a wildcard team.
  • I loved seeing Mike Hilton get an interception. Sometimes he struggles in pass coverage, but he was great on Sunday. The Bengals really pay him as an in-the-box corner who excels at rushing the passer and stopping the run.
  • I liked seeing Tyler Boyd being more involved in the offense. He is one of the best slot receivers in the league.
  • The good news is the Bengals won, and they have two weeks to get things fixed before they head out to the West Coast to take on a very angry 49ers team that just lost to the Browns.
  • I’d rather complain about the offense at 3-3 than 2-4. Just sayin’

Who Dey!