Our friend Jason Garrison over at CincyJungle takes another look at the Bengals loss to the Steelers. He makes 7 points in the post about his observations from the game. Reading through I agreed with some and then could not disagree more on others. So i thought I would counter his points with my thoughts.
Point 1: Without A.J. Green, the Bengals receiver aren’t very good
When A.J. Green left the game with an injured knee in the second half, there was such a huge difference in the Bengals ability to move the ball down the field through the air. The team’s two most experienced receivers literally did almost nothing. Jerome Simpson didn’t have a single catch and Andre Caldwell only had three for 25 yards. Without Green, Andy Dalton had nothing to work with.
There is no argument that AJ Green is by far the best reciever on the Bengals roster. He is. However, this statement can not be more untrue from this past game. When AJ Green left the game he had 1 catch. Granted, it was a huge grab for a TD but it was one catch. Yes, the Bengals may have had a different offense in the second half if AJ was out there, but you know the Steelers were blanketing AJ with double coverage. With AJ out, the Steelers could shift focus to Simpson and Caldwell and not allow them the space to get the looks from Dalton. The Bengals managed to score the majority of their points (including a passing TD) with AJ not in the game.
Andrew Hawkins came in as a slot guy who was drawing coverages from the Steelers interior. This allowed him the matchups that opened him for some huge plays in the game. Had Hawkins been in the x or y positions filled by Simpson and Cladwell, I would guess he would not have had the numbers he did. AJ was quiet except for the incredible catch in the endzone. Why would you expect more from Simpson?
Point 2: Even without Dunlap, the Bengals can rush the passer
No argument here, the Bengals D line was able to pressure Ben all day. How cool would it have been had Dunlap been on the line also?
Point 3: A.J. Green’s TD catch was incredible
Again, agree. The ability to not think about how close Troy was to him and keep his focus on the ball only was incredible. A really special talent the Bengals have in Green.
Point 4: Andrew Hawkins is exciting to watch
Hawkins was a spark for the offense when they really needed one. I still think Shipley fills this position better than Hawkins but Andrew was solid. As I said in point one, this can be attributed to the coverage that Simpson and Caldwell were getting.
Point 5: Losing Leon Hall could be devastating
Again, can’t disagree more. Leon Hall’s stregth is not his coverage ability. He has been burnt bad in almost every game this season. Leon is usually a sure tackler that allows very little YAC for whoever he is covering. I don’t see a huge talent drop from him to Clements or Jennings. I think Adam Jones if healthy can fill in well here.
Point 6: The Bengals’ first two possessions doomed them
I don’t understand why the Bengals came out so conservative. Was the coaching staff so afraid of losing the game in the first quarter that they kept all the plays inside the hashes and did not gamble on defense? The blitzes on the Steelers first couple of drives had the Bengals running delayed blitzes. At some point this switched to full pressure and the Bengals were able to get to Big Ben often.
The offensive scheme was similar in the fact they tried nothing to the outside or down the field until the Steelers were up 14.
Extra Point: Time to move on