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3 things that could save the Bengals’ season

It’s not quite yet time to give up on Cincinnati.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Arizona Cardinals Joe Rondone-USA TODAY Sports

Is the Cincinnati Bengals’ season over? Probably.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to try to save it.

And that’s exactly what we did in our latest show:

Here are summaries of just some of the ideas we discussed with one of the top Bengals analysts around, John Sheeran of A to Z Sports:

Making a change at running back

Is Joe Mixon bad? No, not at all.

Is he getting the job behind a line that doesn’t have things figured out? Also no, not at all.

And that’s where rookie Chase Brown comes in. The 23-year-old out of Illinois with a refined skillset could jumpstart the rushing attack. Here’s what Sheeran had to say:

Mixon might hit the hole pretty hard, but he runs pretty upright, and he gets taken down at the legs pretty easily. Chase Brown runs a little bit lower to the ground. He’s got a little more burst. He’s definitely fresh. He’s only carried the ball like three times. He’s not banged up at all this year... He’s got more explosion. He’s got more acceleration to get to the outside a little quicker. They can run some of those horizontal runs that they’ve tried with Mixon but usually result in negative plays.

Simplifying the passing attack

“The Joe Burrow offense requires the most thinking, I think, out of any offense in the NFL,” Sheeran said. Not everyone can make the kind of quick decisions that the Bengals’ franchise QB does on a regular basis, so it should be no surprise that Jake Browning can’t step right into his shoes.

So what should the team do?

Turn more to playaction, says Sheeran. “It’s really just a cheat code for quarterbacks,” he said. “You don’t really need a good running game to have a good playaction game. And they can just spam it on bootlegs, out of shotgun, or on dropbacks to create some spacing against opposing defenses.”

Emphasizing wide receiver blocking

With Joe Burrow out and Tee Higgins in an out of the lineup this year, it’s become the Ja’Marr Chase show in Cincinnati. The problem is, Browning hasn’t been able to put the ball into the superstar wide receiver’s hands as often as he—and fans—would like.

An easy solution would be to feed Chase with quick bubble screens and the like. But, Sheeran notes, the problem is that the Bengals aren’t getting the kind of blocking from wide receivers and tight ends to allow Chase to turn those catches into big yards.

By emphasizing blocking by the skill players, Cincinnati can free up Chase and improve the run game. Here’s what Sheeran said:

It’s hard for the Bengals to establish the run when, not only is your offensive line incompetent in that regard for the most part, but you don’t have guys on the perimeter who can block. You have basically one tight end who can block in space, barely, and that’s Drew Sample. And he did not have a good game against the Steelers in that regard. Their receivers are not good at blocking at all. Tyler Boyd is terrible, even though a pretty underrated aspect of being a slot receiver is the ability to block... They don’t have guys on the outside who can just at least get in the way of some of these cornerbacks, and it blows up their screen game, which is why it limits how much you can do that with Ja’Marr Chase.

You can also listen to the analysis on iTunes or using the player below: