Is The Cincinnati Bengals Horrible Week 1 A Warning Sign?
The Baltimore Ravens arrived at Paul Brown Stadium to play the Cincinnati Bengals with a beat up quarterback and arguably the worst starting running back in the league. They walked out with one of the most dominant wins this opening week.
The 20-0 shutout displayed two things: First, the Baltimore defense is for real and is making its case for the best unit this season. And second, no matter how talented the supporting cast is in Cincinnati, the stars will always bring the Bengals back down to mediocrity. And the Bengals are stuck with Marvin Lewis and the Red Rifle as its stars.
It’s the ultimate battle with mediocrity in football purgatory. This team is not in rebuild mode. This team has the pieces with superstar AJ Green and Tyler Eifert, the defensive presence of Vontaze Burfict, Geno Atkins, and Dre Kirkpatrick and not to mention the young and promising talents of John Ross and Joe Mixon.
And yet they put up a goose egg on Sunday. The Indianapolis Colts Scott Tolzien put up three. Deshaun Watson threw a touchdown on his debut. Deshone Kizer led the Browns to 18 points. Yet zero for this ball club.
And what was Andy Dalton‘s final line? 16-for-31 passing attempts for 170 yards and four interceptions. And a fumble acting as the cherry on top. His 28.4 passer rating is the lowest in the league. It is his lowest mark since his infamous 2.0 passer rating in a 2014 contest against the Cleveland Browns.
A poor offensive line and inconsistent play calling didn’t help his situation. But the quarterback is the most valuable position, cheered when victorious and booed mercilessly in defeat.
The Bengals are a slow moving franchise. After their peak run in 2015, where they went 8-0, injuries got the best of them. Now the front office is hesitant to move on from what they witnessed just a blue moon ago.
It was a spectacular run to be sure. A top ten offense and the second best defense. An offensive line that turned defenders into buttermilk pancakes. A receiving corps that was the top of its class. And a stable quarterback that cashed in points his defense gifted him. But Mohamed Sanu went to Atlanta, Marvin Jones left for Motown, Andrew Whitworth left for the City of Angels, and Reggie Nelson is now with the upstart Raiders. And the team slowly crumbled from there.
It was a tell-tale sign last season when Andy Dalton couldn’t elevate his team with the lack of support. But the suits upstairs didn’t end their relationship with Marvin Lewis and now 2017 is a spitting image of the disastrous storm from a year prior.
Is it time to move on from Dalton? His inexpensive contract that goes through 2021 makes it tough to break up with him, but the Bengals need a change. Whether drafting another quarterback to light a fire in Andy Dalton or to find a new signal caller; something’s got to give. Too much talent is on this team for their era to end without a postseason victory.
If the Bengals continue to play like this, they might fall below the Browns in the AFC North. With a descent that drastic, jobs will be called for and heads will be put on stakes.
Cincinnati will look to turn their season around under the bright lights of Thursday Night Football against the Houston Texans.