Cincinnati Bengals: Are They Just An Just an Average NFL Team in 2010?

Eric BallFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2010

CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 03:  Safety Chinedum Ndukwe #41 of the Cincinnati Bengals breaks up a pass to tight end Benjamin Watson #82 of the Cleveland Browns at Cleveland Browns Stadium on October 3, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The 2010 Cincinnati Bengals are disappointing in all aspects of play. Even the coaches have underperformed.
After watching yet another mediocre Bengals performance, things are becoming clear—this is an ordinary team.
The Bengals have some major issues that look more like trends game by game.
The offensive line is horrendous. Last year, they were able to run block exceptionally well but couldn’t hold up in pass protection.
This year, they can’t do either.
Andre Smith is approaching bust status and even trusted veterans like Andrew Whitworth are compiling way to many pre-snap penalties.

Sure, Carson Palmer took a few unnecessary sacks, but he was pressured all day by a below average Browns defensive line.
Cedric Benson couldn’t find any holes while putting up yet another ho-hum performance; when given a small gap, Benson was able to muster 10 plus yards. He still has that burst and agility, so he isn’t the problem.
Benson only had 15 carries for 60 yards. Through four games, he has a paltry 262 yards, averaging 3.3 yards a carry.
Last year, he was one of the league leaders in rushing yards for the first half of the season before sitting out a few games. The gaping holes aren’t there this season, and Benson is having way too many one and two yard gains.
Dennis Roland and Evan Mathis really need to step up their protection in both the run and the pass.
The lack of identity and organization are chief reasons the Bengals are 2-2 and one of the NFL's most unpredictable teams.
Palmer may have had a solid game, throwing for 371 yards, but he seems to still be struggling mentally.
The old Palmer would never have taken some of the sacks the new Palmer did against the Browns; he continues to fail in the leadership category, as yet again there were players confused on multiple snaps.
He needs to settle down and focus on the “little things” that made him an elite QB. The intangibles are lacking—can he get them back?
The defensive allowed Peyton Hillis to run out the clock on them. Giving up 23 points to Seneca Wallace is not what a Top 10 defense does. They were picking on an aging Dhani Jones all day, and the safeties are still questionable. To add injury to insult, Roy Williams is now out three to four weeks.
After the Ravens and Panthers, most thought the defense had righted itself from the albatross that was Week 1 against the Pats—now, it’s starting to become a concern.
Special teams were awful against the Browns; allowing a very makeable field goal to be blocked is inexcusable. It ended up being the difference in a 23-20 game. They also got absolutely nothing in the kick and punt return game—the offense had bad field position all game.
They did do a good job of containing Josh Cribbs, but the issues on special teams are a huge issue.

Can anybody on this team actually get positive yards on a punt return? Sure seems like Adam “Don’t call me Pacman” Jones and Quan Cosby can’t.
Not everything about the Bengals stinks: The receiving core has been solid and the kicker Mike Nugent has been much better than expected; Leon Hall had his third INT in as many games on Sunday.
Yet, there are far more negatives than positives.
The Bengals need to take a long look in the mirror and realize they are killing a golden opportunity to do big things in the 2010 NFL season.