A lot of unknowns have occurred for the Cincinnati Bengals after 16 years with Marvin Lewis as the Head Coach at the helm. Saturday all though preseason action, we kind of got an early feel of what the Zac Taylor era Bengals will look like.
For starters, unlike the predecessor Marvin Lewis, who was a defensive minded Head Coach dating back to being a linebackers coach in Pittsburgh, in contrast Zac Taylor is a former Quarterback and Taylor’s footprint will be left on the offensive side of the ball. We witnessed that in full display with the quick passing game tailored to Andy Dalton’s skill-set which was on full display with the opening drive. Andy struggles with deep ball accuracy, during the opening drive Andy under-threw Josh Malone which would’ve been a walk in touchdown, Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan followed up with slants and out routes to take advantage of the Chiefs defense and march in to the end zone for a touchdown. Key offensive players A.J. Green out with tendon surgery, Joe Mixon, Gio Bernard sat out for load management to keep veteran players fresh.
Moving to the defense Lou Anarumo Defensive Coordinator has a lot of work to do. What Bengals fans witnessed is that without Geno Atkins, Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson III and Darqueze Dennard inactive due to load management for veteran players, the Bengals lack depth after their starters on defense respectively.
Patrick Mahomes quarterback of the Kansas City Chiefs took full advantage of the Bengals defense and exposed glaring weaknesses at linebacker where tight ends ran freely up the sidelines exposing lack of coverage during passing downs. Shawn Williams still has issues covering in space being an inbox safety. What Lou and the defensive coaching staff need to look at is moving Shawn Williams to weak side linebacker to help cover tight ends on passing downs in nickel coverage, anything at this time will be better than the linebackers being carved up by Mahomes again.
The defensive line did not fare much better with Kansas City gouging the Bengals between the guards with a north-and-south no-nonsense power run game which does not bode well even with Geno Atkins whom is better pass rusher then run defender along the defensive line. Recent draft picks in the likes of Andrew Billings have to be more consistent in stopping the run for the Bengals to make an actual run in the AFC North Division in 2019. The Bengals must be more physical at the point of attack generating better pass rush and getting off blocks to stop the run to move from the bottom of total NFL defense to get back to the high level Bengals fans our accustomed to.
With all that being said, there are bright spots for Bengals fans to take away from Week 1 of the preseason, Trayveon Williams toted the football well, scoring a touchdown. Outside of Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green, we all wondered who would be the next receiver to step up? Enter Josh Malone and Auden Tate two recent draft picks that needed to play well and give Andy Dalton weapons to throw to which both wide receivers did.
The offensive line was the main story heading in to fall camp, free agent acquisitions John Jerry and Andre Smith, a former Bengal, made huge contributions to protect Dalton and keep the pocket clean for him to march the offense down the field. It also looks like Billy Price, former round one draft pick, is poised to lead the offensive line at center making line call protections and keeping offensive linemen in the best position possible to win their battles with opponents along the defensive line.