The Bengals lost to the Browns in a frustrating fashion on Thursday night, 35-30. Here are five things learned from week 2.
1. The Right Side of the Offensive Line is Really Bad
Most Bengals fans already knew that the right side of the offensive line was bad. The Bengals started Fred Johnson and Bobby Hart at guard and tackle, respectively. While only three sacks were given up, Joe Burrow had to run for his life and did not have a lot of time to throw.
Hart and Johnson struggled with straight up pass rushes and when the defensive line would stunt and twist. If the Bengals want to protect Burrow this season, they need to explore upgrades. This could include starting rookie Hakeem Adeniji, who many draft analysts liked heading into the 2020 NFL Draft. This includes Senior Bowl Executive Director, Jim Nagy.
It needs to be Hakeem Adeniji time in Cincy.
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 18, 2020
2. Drew Sample is Going to be a go-to Player
The Bengals reached when they selected Drew Sample in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was drafted for his ability to block, but didn’t do much as a rookie. After C.J. Uzomah left the game with a season-ending Achilles tear, Sample became a featured part of the offense. He finished the game with seven catches for 45 yards.
With the offensive line woes, Burrow has to get the ball out of his hands quickly. He averaged only 5.2 yards per completion. After Uzomah went down with the injury, Burrow specialized in finding Sample on stick routes in between Cleveland’s zone coverage. Burrow likes targeting inside receivers and because Sample is the next man up, he will get a lot of action this season.
3. Tackling and the Bengals do not Mix
The biggest issue with the Bengals’ defense was the fact that they didn’t tackle. Cleveland rushed for 215 yards on 6.1 yards per carry. It started up front (the Bengals were without Mike Daniels and Geno Atkins), as the defensive line did not shed blocks well. The linebackers and defensive backs missed a lot of tackles, which turned three to four-yard gains into big plays for the Browns.
This issue has been persistent for the Bengals over the last few seasons. The hope is that the run defense will improve once Daniels and Atkins return, but they need their young linebackers to make plays. Safeties missed tackles, but they also had to make too many tackles against the Brown and that needs to be cleaned up.
4. Randy Bullock is Back
It was painful for fans to watch Randy Bullock miss his game-tying kick against the Chargers in week 1. He missed the kick badly and instantly grabbed his legs, specifically his right leg. Bullock was then listed on the injury report, but was back in time for this game against the Browns. He then hit all three field goals and extra points for the Bengals.
The missed kick will be a sore spot for a while, but Bullock looks to be fully recovered from his injury. If he can continue to kick like this the rest of the season, he will be able to keep his job over Austin Seibert, who was just signed from the Browns’ practice squad.
5. Lou Anarumo Needs to Prepare the Team Better
The defense clearly wasn’t ready to play on a variety of different levels. It was already mentioned that the run defense was very bad. The Bengals also looked lost on every single play-action pass that the Browns ran. Giving up 35 points to a team on a short week that just scored six against the Ravens is unacceptable. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo needs to start fixing these issues sooner rather than later.
The Bengals did have a great goal line stand and Williams Jackson had a good interception where he read Baker Mayfield‘s eyes the entire time. But the good moments were few and far between. If the Bengals want to pick up some wins this season, they have to be better prepared on defense. Stopping the run, not falling for so many play-action passes and generating pressure (whether by player or scheme) all need to start happening.
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