The Bengals struggled in week 2 against the 49ers. Starting 0-2 with the last loss resulting in a beating does not look things look good for the rest of the season. Here are five things learned from week 2.
1. There is no Running Game
At 29.5 rushing yards per game, the Bengals rank dead last in the league in rushing yards. After a rough day running the ball in Seattle, the Bengals were even worse on Sunday, rushing for 25 yards. Mixon led the team with 11 rushes for 17 yards. Giovanni Bernard and Andy Dalton each rushed for one yard a carry each.
Mixon was playing hurt with an ankle injury, but even Bernard couldn’t get things going, which isn’t a good sign. A lot of this also likely has to do with the offensive line being banged up, but that looks like it will be a constant theme for the Bengals. It is fair to expect the running game to get better, but likely only marginally this season.
2. Injuries are Piling Up
The Bengals were already thin on the offensive line, but more injuries added up in this game. They were already without Jonah Williams (out for season), Alex Redmond (retirement), Clint Boling (retirement), Cordy Glenn (missed the first two weeks) from their planned offensive line this offseason. Andre Smith suffered on a hamstring injury and Michael Jordan was carted off with a knee injury to make things worse.
Their offensive line wasn’t the only unit that suffered injuries. Defensive end Carl Lawson had a hamstring injury, while his position mate Kerry Wynn suffered a concussion. Cornerback B.W. Webb also left the game with a right arm injury. For a team that wasn’t expected to have much depth to start with, the injuries adding up makes things even worse.
3. The Offense Wasn’t as Good as Week 1…Obviously
Andy Dalton was one of the best quarterbacks in the league in week 1. He is now leading the league in passing yards through two weeks, but that is mostly because the Bengals were losing for most of the game. While Dalton put up stats, he finished with a QBR of 10.9.
More work needs to be done to improve the offense. With the run game struggling a lot of the game fell on Andy Dalton’s shoulders. The loss isn’t all on his shoulders as the team will need the offensive line to play better. If the offense is more balanced it can be more successful, but Dalton can’t carry the team every week and lead them to a successful record.
4. The Tackling is Really Bad
In week 1, the Bengals demonstrated better tackling than last season. It is what helped them hold the Seahawks to just 21 points. That tackling, or the defensive intensity seen in the third quarter of the Seattle game, did not show up against the 49ers, which was a main factor in the blowout loss.
Matt Breida led the 49ers in rushing with 12 carries for 120 yards. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson also got several touches and were productive. All three running backs broke tackles, juked defenders out of their cleats and had an easy day. Cincinnati’s defense made them look like All-Pro players. If the defense wants to improve over last season, they can start with the fundamentals, which starts with tackling.
5. It Could be a long Season
After week 1 there was some hope that the Bengals could maybe win more games than expected. With week 2 going so poorly a lot of that hope is now lost. It changed so quickly, but that’s how things often work in the NFL. It hasn’t helped that more and more key injuries have happened.
If it does look poorly, fans will need to look forward to the NFL Draft for hope. They may not be tanking like the Dolphins, but the Bengals will likely end up with a top-end pick. Hopefully, Zac Taylor can get an impact player to help minimize these blowout losses.