It’s been nice to see the Cincinnati Bengals pick things up over the past three weeks, as the feelings heading into the bye week are much more positive than they were after the first two games. There have been signs of improvement and the pendulum is swinging back upward at the moment.
Still, there have been some major areas of disappointment so far in 2017. Here are some of Cincinnati’s biggest issues after the first five games of the season.
Tyler Eifert and John Ross:
The Bengals attempted to reinvigorate their stale offense from 2016 by adding a number of weapons in the draft. Ross, the No. 9 overall selection, has been active for only one game, with just one touch that ended in a lost fumble. While he was benched in that game for the error, he has also been inactive with a knee issue for the other four games.
Meanwhile, Eifert has played in only two games and has been suffering from back and knee problems. The former problem seems to be a very troubling issue, as he is reportedly having season-ending back surgery. This is after he had already had a procedure done in the offseason, and those who have back problems know how they can linger.
The offensive line:
The issues up front aren’t a surprise to anyone, as most of us knew the line could very well be the Achilles heel of the 2017 Bengals. They’re currently giving up an average of three sacks a game and often look befuddled when attempting pre-snap adjustments.
Making matters worse, the Bengals are currently ranked 28th as a run offense and it has been painful to watch. Holes are infrequent and big plays from the backs or receivers on end-around plays are minimal.
The run game:
Piggybacking on the previous point, the issues aren’t all on the line. Joe Mixon, who most seemed to believe could even have success behind a poor line, has proved to be mortal. He’s only cracked the end zone once and is currently sporting a 2.8 yards per carry average.
Jeremy Hill is back to his old “three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust” antics, as he has just 3.4 yards per carry this season. Giovani Bernard has a 4.6 average, but has just 20 carries through the first five games. If the line continues to struggle, these guys will need to dig deep to create more opportunities for themselves.
A lack of forcing turnovers:
The defense has largely been carrying the Bengals this year in a number of different aspects. Paul Guenther’s unit has been outstanding at limiting points, getting off of the field and sacking the quarterback. In fact, the team is No. 2 in the latter category, with many guys getting after passers.
Still, the team is No. 31 in the league in forcing fumbles with just three and are tied with 10 teams at No. 10 overall (like, essentially 20th, right?) with four interceptions so far this year. You’d think with their frequency in getting to the passer, they would force more turnover opportunities, but that just hasn’t been the case.