Fans were left with a familiar feeling on Sunday night after the Bengals' lost 45-10 in Kansas City. Here are some observations from the game:
Bill Lazor left his 2018 playbook at home – The Bengals entered Sunday night with the sixth-highest scoring offense in the NFL. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor was a big reason why, after he revamped a stale playbook this offseason. He must've left all of his new plays at home because the Bengals' offense looked eerily similar to the 2017 version.
The only time they moved the ball is when they force-fed A.J. Green in the second quarter. Andy Dalton had his worst game of the season. Joe Mixon never could get it going – he finished with 16 touches for 51 yards. Mixon didn't play well, but the Bengals didn't put him in a position to. They needed to find a way to get the ball to him in space. Instead, we were stuck watching him try to make one-handed catches on screen passes all night.
Lazor doesn't know how to use John Ross. His return was supposed to help stretch the field. They threw it to him once downfield and he was tackled by the opposing cornerback. I expected it to be an illegal contact penalty, but nothing was called. This Bengals' offense has to manufacture touches for Mixon and Ross, especially in a game like that when Green was triple-teamed on some plays. Lazor's offense lacked creativity, it lacked aggressiveness and it's extremely disappointing to see, especially in a game against the Chiefs, who were allowing the most yards in NFL history through six games.
Vontaze Burfict made up for his $112,000 fine by not showing up on Sunday Night Football and still got paid $364,743– Would you believe me if I told you Burfict sent his doppelgänger to Kansas City, while he stayed home and played Fortnite? He struggled all night and had more missed tackles than he did tackles (2). Kareem Hunt made him look silly on one play. Burfict tried to flop on multiple occasions, which shouldn't and won't be called by NFL officials. He was awful on Sunday night and it was an opportunity for him to remind everyone that he is an elite linebacker. Maybe he isn't that type of player anymore. He certainly hasn't shown it this season.
'Blandy' Dalton showed up for the first time in 2018 – Dalton struggled on Sunday night. He completed 15-of-29 passes, had one touchdown and a pick-six. In Dalton's defense, Lazor's lack of creativity had something to do with it. 'Blandy' would be less bland if Lazor could find a way to get the ball to Tyler Boyd, Mixon or Ross in space. The offensive coordinator failed his quarterback on Sunday night.
The offensive line wasn't much better. Clint Boling, Bobby Hart and Alex Redmond were called for penalties and they struggled to open up holes in the running game. Rookie center Billy Price went through an extensive pregame workout and could potentially return after the Bengals Week 9 bye.
Teryl Austin preached turnovers this offseason, but the Bengals' defense can't even force a fourth down – The Chiefs converted 9-of-12 third downs (75 percent). Shawn Williams did have an interception, but it was after the game was decided. This defense wasn't expected to stop the high-powered Kansas City offense, but they didn't offer any resistance at all. The pass rush struggled to get to Patrick Mahomes for most of the night, but Andrew Billings and Carlos Dunlap both had sacks.
Austin is taking his fair share of criticism and he should. The Bengals' defense is allowing 429 yards-per-game, which is 31st in the NFL. The only defense allowing more yards is the Chiefs, which explains why I've been so critical of Lazor's offense. The Bengals are allowing 29 points-per-game which is the second-most in the NFL. Only San Francisco has allowed more.
The Bengals failed to change the narrative – We'd be having a completely different conversation if the Bengals lost 41-38 yesterday. It was a primetime game, on the road, against a very good football team. Most fans assumed they were going to lose. How you lose matters. We've seen this movie before – it's just another Marvin Lewis-led team laying an egg on the national stage. The Bengals haven't won a Sunday night game since 2004 (16-13 win over Miami).
Someone on Twitter sent me this picture, which is a good way to describe Lewis and this organization in primetime games:
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