Photo courtesy of sportingnews.com | Quarterback Andy Dalton and his Bengals squad have had a rough go in the early part of the season. They hope to avoid an 0-4 start in Week 4 when they take on division rival Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t fared too well in 2017, beginning the season with a deplorable 0-3 record. There are many reasons for such inconsistent play, but all signs point to a sluggish offense, and in particular an offensive line that has proved suspect.
Quarterback Andy Dalton hasn’t done much of anything partly because the offensive line that is supposed to be protecting him is in complete shambles. The Bengals saw two key offensive linemen, Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth, leave the team for free agency.
These two losses are painstakingly apparent as the Bengals offense has proven to be quite lackluster thus far. Dalton sports a brutal stat line in the first three games of the season, having double the number of interceptions than he has touchdowns (2 TDs, 4 INTs). He has also been sacked 11 times and ranks dead last in the NFL with a 16.6 quarterback rating.
The offense took a fairly significant blow after it was announced that tight end Tyler Eifert will miss multiple weeks after sustaining a back injury in the team’s Week 3 game against the Green Bay Packers.
Nonetheless, after a sluggish start, the Bengals offense was somewhat galvanized in a 27-24 overtime loss to the Packers this past weekend. Wide receiver AJ Green commented after the loss, “We did some good things today, but everything is a process… I feel like we took a step forward. We didn’t come out with the win, but that is the way it is.”
The Bengals ranked second to last in total points per game last season. They drafted two dynamic players, John Ross and Joe Mixon, to add firepower to a struggling offense. Neither have impressed thus far. The speedy Ross has only appeared in one game with one career rushing attempt for 12 yards. As for Mixon, he only has 107 rushing yards on 35 attempts and seven receptions for 59 yards. Veteran wideout AJ Green seems to be Dalton’s only reliable target, with 20 receptions for 252 yards and a touchdown on the young season.
The Bengals offense seems to be the major concern. The defense has played particularly well, currently rated as the seventh best in the league. It will have an added boost in its next game with the return of linebacker Vontaze Burfict from a suspension stemming from a flagrant hit in an Aug. 19 preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Many fans have been calling for the firing of head coach Marvin Lewis, who is now in his 15th season at the helm of the Bengals. He has yet to capture a single playoff victory and is in the final year of his contract.
Some early speculations detect that he may be in danger of being on the hot seat. The team has already made changes to its coaching staff after firing offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after scoring only nine points inthe Week 2 loss against the Houston Texans.
The Bengals look to bounce back on Sunday and avoid a 0-4 start.
Fortunately, it has a favorable matchup in Week 4 against AFC North rival, the Cleveland Browns, who haven’t had a winning season since 2007.
By: Luke Feliciano ~Sports Editor~