Cincinnati Bengals: Focus on the Running Game vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIDecember 11, 2012

BenJaruvs Green-Ellis has completely turned his season around over the past four weeks and has become a legitimate threat out of the backfield.
BenJaruvs Green-Ellis has completely turned his season around over the past four weeks and has become a legitimate threat out of the backfield.USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals may have just suffered its worst loss of the season against the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday. The coaching staff seemed to lack the ability to adjust to the game as it progressed.

So, what can the Bengals staff do to right the ship for the remainder of the season?

There were many mistakes that were highlighted during the Cowboys nine-point come-from-behind win in the fourth quarter against Cincinnati.

Arguably the most important adjustment that was overlooked by the coaching staff was the willingness to keep pounding the football against the Dallas defense.

After a fast start to the game, the Bengals offense slowly declined during the second half. Drives became shorter and shorter until the offense became absolutely anemic.

The largest factor to the poor offensive performance late in the game was the fact that the Bengals abandoned its running game completely.

With the Bengals holding on to a nine-point lead, quarterback Andy Dalton struggling and receivers dropping passes left and right, it would seem logical to get back to the running game.

Unfortunately, the Bengals coaching staff did not see it that way.

After being very successful on the ground in the first three quarters, it became mind-boggling when they pulled the plug on the running game.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran 12 times for 89 yards for a 7.4 yard-per-carry average. Marvin Jones had a picture perfect 37-yard end-around early in the game as well. The offensive line was opening up gaping holes for ball-carriers.

Apparently, this was not enough for the coaches. After the game during Marvin Lewispress conference, he was asked why they stopped running the ball late in the game. Lewis’ response is as follows:

If we run it and don’t make a first down, then you’re going to tell me, "Why didn’t you throw it?" We’re just trying to do what we can do to make a first down and keep the clock going and get more points. The goal was to try to score when you got the ball on offense. We had one incompletion in the thing, and now you can sit back and say that we had an incompletion. Had we completed the balls and gone forward, then we get a first down and we’re good. If we run it and don’t get the first down, we maybe take 40 seconds off the clock, but we don’t get the first down. You’ve got to make play calls to do what you think you can do to execute at that particular point in time.

Truth be told, BenJarvus Green-Ellis was not only blanked on that last drive but did not receive a carry within the last 12 minutes of the game.

Going to such a one-dimensional offense late in a crucial game with a lead is a death wish for a team trying to kill the clock and preserve a win.

Changes should come into effect over this short week before the Bengals faceoff against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football.

Green-Ellis was the first Bengal to rush for three consecutive 100-yard games since Corey Dillon in 1999. There is no doubt that Green-Ellis should have made it to four weeks straight if he were given more than 12 carries on the day.

The Bengals matchup this week against the Eagles will not be quite as easy as advertised.

When the Bengals face the Eagles this week, a strong running game needs to be established immediately against a team that struggles on all phases of defense.

The Eagles are having a tough time stopping the run, and the secondary has been picked apart by teams implementing play-action passing against them.

On the flip side, Eagles rookie quarterback Nick Foles had a very legitimate game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week with his late game heroics. Also, elusive running back LeSean McCoy has passed his concussion test and could possibly play this week. McCoy is always a home run threat when he touches the ball.

 Running the football effectively will keep a suddenly proficient Eagles offense off the field.

This is a recipe that the Bengals need to bring to Philadelphia to take home a win and keep themselves in contention for the last AFC wild-card spot.