Bengals Left With More Questions Than Answers After Week 1 Loss
After Sunday's 24-21 loss to the Chicago Bears, several question marks seem to be swirling around the team. What promised to be a good start to the season actually looks a little like how last season ended.
To start, QB Andy Dalton (282 yards, two TDs and two interceptions) and WR A.J. Green (162 yards, two TDs) picked up where they left off. They continued to play pitch and catch by themselves without much help from anyone else. A lone bright spot in the passing game was the play of TEs Jermaine Gresham (five catches, 35 yards) and rookie Tyler Eifert (five catches, 47 yards). The only receivers besides Green with catches were Mohamed Sanu (four catches, 19 yards) and Marvin Jones (one catch, seven yards). Another outside threat has to be found to take some of the pressure off of Green.
The running game didn’t help matters either. Starting RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis (14 carries, 25 yards) did score on the ground, but was shut down by the Bears for most of the afternoon. Rookie Giovani Bernard showed promise, but saw limited action as he finished the day with 22 yards on four carries. Just like the lack of another receiver put pressure on Green, a lack of a running game will put more pressure on Dalton.
Defensively, the Bengals did not do much either. Considering the Bears’ offensive line has long been a problem area and the Bengals’ defensive line produced 43 sacks last season, it was mildly surprising the Bengals could not apply enough pressure on Bears QB Jay Cutler (242 yards, two TDs). The Bengals are going to have to do so if they wish to force more turnovers this year. The lack of pressure on Cutler manifested itself in the turnover ratio, where the Bengals finished minus-two against the Bears after recording a plus-four margin a season ago.
Some positives can be taken from the opening weekend loss at Soldier Field. Dalton looked accurate most of the day as he completed 26 passes out his 33 throws. Green will continue to put up numbers this season considering his play against two great cornerbacks in Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. Defensively, LB Vontaze Burfict (eight tackles) forced the only Bears’ turnover when he intercepted a pass from Cutler.
With the only difference in the game being a 58-yard field goal by Bears K Robbie Gould, it was a late game breakdown that allowed the Bears to take the lead with less than five minutes to play. The Bengals will try again to get it right next week when they host the injury-riddled Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1) on Monday Night Football.