Football season is back, and the Bengals wasted absolutely no time in disappointing me for another year in a row. In a league that includes the Jets, the Bengals were the only team in the NFL to be held scoreless in their first game. After watching the entire game, I have never seen the Bengals or really any NFL team look so pathetic. There was no fight in them, especially in the second half. So today I am going to discuss five takeaways I had from watching week 1 against the Ravens.
1. This offensive line is absolutely horrible, and will be the reason for the return of “Bad Andy.”
Everyone knew the Bengals offensive line would struggle this year. They lost their two best offensive linemen in Andrew Whitworth, who anchored the Bengals offensive line for 11 years before signing with the LA Rams, and Kevin Zeitler, a 5-year Bengal guard who signed with the Cleveland Browns this offseason. The Bengals didn’t sign anyone to make up for these losses, and planned on relying on Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi, who have both struggled mightily since going pro.
Without a good offensive line, Andy Dalton had the worst game of his professional career. He threw 4 interceptions and 0 touchdowns in a 20-0 loss to the Ravens. He made horrible decisions, like throwing a pass into triple coverage in the end zone to prematurely end a long drive in the red zone. If the offensive line fails to improve, look for Andy to have his worst season yet.
2. Joe Mixon should be the Bengals starting RB
The Bengals arguably have one of the most talented groups of running backs in the NFL. Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, and Joe Mixon all have different skill sets that could prove useful. Hill failed to impress once again in another average performance, but Bernard and Mixon performed. Bernard led the Bengals in rushing with 40 yards on 7 carries and also added an electrifying 39-yard reception. Mixon really stood out to me for his elusiveness. He made people miss and was able to get to the second level. He had the best preseason of any of the running backs and I look forward to seeing what he is able to do when he gets more playing time.
3. This team needs Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict
Both Jones and Burfict missed Week 1 due to serving their suspensions. Jones will be back Week 2 and the Bengals will be better off for it; he brings a certain fire to the defense and to the team, in general, and they lack that passion when he is not on the field. Both Jones and Burfict play with a fire and passion that is rarely seen. It will be nice to see these guys reunite on the field in Week 4 when Burfict returns from the most ridiculous suspension I have ever seen (except for Tom Brady’s.) The defense looked pretty solid in week 1 and should only get better as the season goes on and these two guys return. #FreeBurfict
4. AJ Green still looks as good as he ever has
AJ Green has been one of my favorite players since the Bengals drafted him with the 4th overall pick in 2011. There is no doubt he has developed a great chemistry with Andy Dalton in their years together. When Dalton had time and made good passes, Green looked electrifying. He finished with 5 catches for 74 yards including a 27-yard catch. If Dalton gets more time from the offensive line, AJ Green will eclipse 1,000 yards again continuing his great career.
5. Nick Vigil will be an absolute stud
Vigil is in his 2nd year in the league and has already earned a starting LB position on a talented defense. He played all 16 games in his rookie campaign and should start all 16 this year if he can stay healthy. He looked strong in Week 1 with 5 tackles and an interception off a tipped pass. Look for Vigil to be the Bengals leading tackler this season as he continues to grow and develop as a player.
There were very few positives I could take away from the Bengals Week 1 performance and I really hope they can perform a lot better this Thursday against rookie QB Deshaun Watson and the 0-1 Houston Texans who got trounced by the Jacksonville Jaguars 29-7 in the season opener.
* Photo courtesy of Cincinnati Bengals