5 Reasons Why the Cincinnati Bengals Are as Bad as the Analysts Predicted

Scott SewellCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2011

5 Reasons Why the Cincinnati Bengals Are as Bad as the Analysts Predicted

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    There are a couple of schools of philosophy that determine how fans interpret a team’s performance on the field. 

    The first school is only concerned with the end result.  The winner of the contest is always considered the better team, because hey, they won the contest, it’s only logical.  This is a very black and white point of view, but it’s perfectly valid.

    The second school is less rigid in its stance and believes that sometimes the best team doesn’t win.  This philosophy judges a team’s performance on how the team plays, not whether or not they score more points.  After all, 60 minutes of play in a football game is just an arbitrary number. 

    Is it actually a true indicator of a team’s ability if it has more points than its opponents at the 60-minute mark rather than the 45-minute mark?

    The Cincinnati Bengals have started the season with a 1-1 record, but they’ve been outplayed consistently throughout each game.  Even if they had won today, and just so happened to lead Denver after 60 minutes of play, I would still be writing the same thing. The 2011 Cincinnati Bengals are not a good team.

    The analysts were saying it all off-season and preseason, but I didn’t want to believe it.  After two games it’s painfully obvious that they were right all along, and I’ve outlined the reasons in the accompanying slideshow.

     

    Agree, Disagree?  Let me know in the comments section below!

5. Experience

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    I’ve worked in the corporate world for several years.  Whenever it's time for a company to hire someone, they always look for same thing—experience.

    The logical part of my brain always struggles with this mindset.  I’ve worked with people who were terrible at their jobs, but stayed with a company for several years before finally doing something truly worthy of termination.  However, during the time that they were being a completely worthless employee, they were also accumulating that oh-so-valuable commodity of experience. 

    Football works in a similar way.  The Bengals acquired “experience” in the offseason by bringing in Nate Clements and Thomas Howard.  However, the truth is that Clements is coming from some terrible Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers teams, and Howard is coming from the equally terrible Oakland Raiders.  Sure, they have experience playing football, but they don’t have experience playing winning football, and that’s what the Bengals need. 

    The Bengals can simply look down the street at the Cincinnati Reds and see what kind of impact Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera had on the team in 2010.  They had winning pedigrees and they came into the organization and showed the young players what was necessary to compete for division and league titles.

4. Lack of Creativity

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    The Bengals have run one of the most vanilla offenses in NFL history over the past several years.  You can look at today’s game as the perfect example. 

    The Bengals received a huge break with the Denver penalty on Colquitt’s unbelievable 82-yard punt.  Instead of being stuck down at their own 10-yard line, they took over possession at Denver’s 45.  This was potentially a game-changing turn of events, and momentum was completely on the Bengals side.

    How do the Bengals respond?

    First-and-10—Cedric Benson up the middle to DEN 41 for four yards.

    Second-and-6—Benson up the middle to DEN 41 for no gain.

    Third-and-6—(Shotgun) Andy Dalton scrambles right end to DEN 36 for five yards.

    Fourth-and-1—Dalton pass incomplete short right to A.J. Green.

    Two unimaginative runs up the middle, a broken play forcing Dalton to scramble, and a desperate 4th-and-1 incompletion.  Do you think the Pittsburgh Steelers run these same four plays in this situation? The New England Patriots

    No, good teams have imagination and creativity and are able to manufacture ways to put their best players in position to make great plays when the game is on the line.  The Bengals are not one of those teams; not even close.

3. Lack of Aggressiveness in Decision-Making

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    If the Cincinnati Bengals offensive style were to claim a political party, then it would undoubtedly be tax-hating, gun-loving, Michelle Bachman-voting, Tea Party Republicans. Marvin Lewis, Bob Bratkowski and now Jay Gruden have never seen a 4th-and-short they wouldn’t punt on.  It’s conservatism to the furthest extreme.

    Teams are given four downs to score or advance their field position, but the Cincinnati Bengals consistently choose to ignore that fact and play with just three downs.

    Even when they do “go for it” on fourth down, they do it when it is the more conservative choice.  We can use today’s game as a perfect example again.  In fact, let’s look at the same offensive series we focused on before.

    First-and-10—Cedric Benson up the middle to DEN 41 for four yards.

    Second-and-6—Benson up the middle to DEN 41 for no gain.

    Third-and-6—(Shotgun) Andy Dalton scrambles right end to DEN 36 for five yards.

    Fourth-and-1—Dalton pass incomplete short right to A.J. Green.

    After third down there was 3:22 left on the clock and the Bengals were trailing 24-22 with the ball positioned at Denver’s 36.  In any other city, on any other field, the risky play would be going for it on fourth down.

    However, they were playing in Denver, the city that just last week allowed a 63-yard field goal.  With the game on the line, and a chance to take the lead, Lewis and Gruden decide to go the more conservative route and try to pick up the first down instead of even attempting to put points on the board.

2. Losing the Line of Scrimmage Battle

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    The media loves to play up the marketable, jaw-dropping talent of wide receivers, quarterbacks, running backs, cornerbacks and linebackers, but the game of football is won and lost by the men up front; the defensive ends, tackles, centers and guards.  It’s not sexy, and it’s more difficult to articulate, but the line of scrimmage battles determine everything that follows.

    The Bengals have been consistently losing these battles.  The Denver and Cleveland defensive lines manhandled the Bengals offensive lines.  Similarly, the Cincinnati defensive line was consistently stymied by the Denver and Cleveland offensive lines.  The Bengals had at least four 3rd-and-short or 4th-and-short opportunities where they failed to convert.

    It’s a matter of talent.  The Bengals have the necessary play-makers in place on the offensive side of the ball; now they need to spend early draft picks in the next couple of drafts on quality offensive and defensive linemen. 

    If Denver and Cleveland were able to control the line of scrimmage, what do you think Baltimore and Pittsburgh are going to do?

1. Rookie Quarterback

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    Although Dalton didn’t throw for the kind of yards that Cam Newton did today, he still looked better on the field.  Newton made several bad throws, trying to force balls into Steve Smith when he was double covered.  By contrast, Dalton consistently made good decisions with the ball, always throwing it away when he didn’t have a play or scrambling for a few yards gain when necessary.

    That said, he’s still a rookie quarterback, and part of the reason for the conservative playbook is because Dalton is still learning the pro game.  It’s going to take several more weeks before the Bengals feel comfortable opening up the playbook and allowing Dalton to control the outcome of the game.

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