James Rapien

James Rapien

James Rapien came to talk sports and chew gum, and he's all out of gum.Full Bio


Five observations from the Bengals' 31-7 win over the Browns

The Bengals won their first game of the 2017 season on Sunday. They scored three 2nd quarter touchdowns en route to a 31-7 victory over the Cleveland Browns. Here are five observations from Sunday's win:

1. 'Blandy' Dalton had one of the best games of his career

Andy Dalton completed 25 of 30 passes on Sunday. His 83 percent completion percentage was the highest of his career. It was only the third time in Dalton's career where he's thrown for at least four touchdowns without an interception. He threw a beautiful ball to A.J. Green for a touchdown early in the second quarter. Dalton completed 16-straight passes that led to a 21-point explosion in the first half. This is the offense I thought we'd see from day one.  

I was critical of Dalton leading up to this game. He needed to have a good showing. He did that and more against the Browns. This is the offense I thought we'd see from day one.

2. Bill Lazor's system is working

Lazor didn't have an entire offseason to build a system for this offense, but whatever he's doing is working. The Bengals scored nine points in eight quarters with Ken Zampese as offensive coordinator. They've scored 55 points in eight quarters with Lazor running the show. The offense is far from perfect, but it's much improved. It's also worth pointing out that Lazor coached his first two games on the road. 

3. The Bengals' defense is very good

Vontaze Burfict returned to the field on Sunday and gave the defense a boost. They shut down a Browns' offense that was averaging 19 points-per-game. The Bengals' defense has been consistent this season, even when the offense has struggled. They'll be challenged by Tyrod Taylor's athleticism in Week 5. Coming into the 2017 season, I think a lot of people (including me) expected the offense to carry this team. If they want to get back in the hunt, it'll be the defense that gets them there. They're holding opponents to 17 points-per-game and those numbers are inflated from a 5 turnover day by the offense in Week 1.

4. Carl Lawson lost his teeth

The rookie linebacker sacked Aaron Rodgers 2.5 times last week. He didn't register a sack on Sunday, but he was credited with two quarterback pressures. Lawson doesn't wear a mouthpiece. "I got around the edge, and I thought I got a sack, but they said the ball was going forward," Lawson told ESPN's Katherine Terrell. "When I was bringing him down, I just see my teeth in the air for like two seconds. I was like, 'Holy crap.'"

5. Win number two won't come easy

The Bengals return to Paul Brown Stadium this week to take on the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have won back-to-back games. They beat the Denver Broncos last week and upset the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. The Bills are in first place in the AFC East. They've only allowed 54 points through four games. 

News and notes:

'Cincy 360' makes its' debut Monday at NOON on ESPN 1530. Mo Egger and I are hosting it Monday through Friday from 12p-1p. I'm excited about adding another local program to our station. You can listen on ESPN 1530 and the iHeartRadio app. 

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