The Cincinnati Bengals are entering week 3 as they prepare to take on the Philadelphia Eagles. With every game of the season, there will be things to watch and focus on. Here are five things to watch for in week 3.
1. Can a Pass Rush be Generated?
One of the biggest complaints on the Bengals’ play this season has been their lack of a pass rush. They have registered just two sacks on the season so far. This is a result of a lot of players underperforming and some players missing time due to injury. Against the Eagles, there is no excuse to not get to quarterback Carson Wentz.
In their opening game, the Eagles allowed eight sacks on Wentz. While it was cleaned up in week 2, the Eagles still have holes on their offensive line that can be exploited. Carlos Dunlap, Sam Hubbard, D.J. Reader and Geno Atkins (if healthy and active) all need to step up as none have had a sack this season so far.
2. Will the Offensive Line Improve at All?
This is more of a rhetorical question. The line is bad. Specifically, the right side of the offensive line is one of the worst in the league. Fred Johnson hasn’t played well and Bobby Hart looks like he isn’t even trying at times. Will a replacement on the line be made or can the players on the line improve? Joe Burrow‘s health depends on it.
This week their matchup will be tough. They will be playing a defensive line that features about Brandon Graham, Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargreave. Joe Burrow can only do so much and there is potential for him to be hit on a lot of plays. On top of that the running game hasn’t been good either, so the offensive line has to do better.
3. Can Joe Mixon Break Out?
As mentioned, the running game has not been good this year. That is partially due to the offensive line not playing well, but Mixon has run behind bad offensive lines his whole career. Last season, he struggled for the first eight games, but broke out over the last eight games. Can he start playing better earlier in this season?
Mixon only has 115 rushing yards this season and going up against the Eagles’ defensive line does not inspire hope. He needs to start producing one way or another, otherwise the offense will become very one dimensional.
4. Will the Tackling be Better?
In the game against the Browns, the Bengals had a rough time trying to bring ball carriers to the ground. It was a clinic on what not to do as a defensive player in the NFL. This allowed to Browns to keep running the ball and they ended up winning the game because of it.
The Eagles don’t have as good of running backs as the Browns, but Miles Sanders is elusive. It will be up to the linebackers and secondary, who both struggled against the Browns, to tackle better this week. If they let routine four-yard gains turn into 10-yard runs each time, it will be another long day.
5. Can the Defense Force Turnovers?
So far on the season, the Bengals have two turnovers. William Jackson and Josh Bynes have interceptions. Last season, this defense did not force many turnovers, which resulted in opponents going on long drives and wearing them down.
If the Bengals really want the defense to be solid, they have to start forcing turnovers. One turnover forced per game is not good enough to win the turnover battle most games and will result in more losing seasons. Without a pass rush, tackling or forced turnovers, the defense won’t improve much over last season.
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