It seems like this coaching staff has seen enough track meet games and has decided to play ball control, field position and D football. I am a Buckeyes fan, so this is all familiar territory for me.
I do like the philosophy of field position and stout defense, BUT, you have to have a comfortable lead for that to work. The Bengals score 14-16 points and they pretty much call it a day.
I love this running game. I really do. With the way Johnson performed today along with Scott, The Bengals just might have the best running back corps in The NFL as a whole. Maybe not, but it's good. Real good.
That being said, when teams know, without a doubt, you're going to run 95% of the time, it's only so effective. You HAVE to have a respectable passing game or teams are going to stack the box and gear up for the run on every play. It's almost like they've forgotten they have a 2-time Pro Bowl QB, a multiple Pro Bowl receiver, as well as Coles and Caldwell. It's not that they don't have the personnel.
110 yards passing against The Browns is pathetic. Disgraceful even.
I do love a stout running game, and there is no doubt The Bengals have one right now. But they just didn't get it done in the red zone and I think a lot of that has to do with the lack of a passing attack. And I just don't get it because they have the tools.
IMO, it is hard to complain about a game in which you were so dominant on the ground and on defense that you didn't have to pass the ball.
On a side point, overlooking the problems in the passing game, this is a dominant run-blocking offensive line. It appears that while Benson is a good back a lot of his success this year has been due to a great line. If Johnson and Scott can put up those kind of numbers against a defense expecting them to run, I feel confident that the Bengals could put just about anyone back there and run for 100 yards.
But I care about the passing attack, very much so. As Operator pointed out, we have a Pro Bowl QB, a great receiver, and other quality receivers... not to mention a run game that is borderline dominant. Yet we can't pass the ball against the Browns?
I'm not panicking, and I'm not saying they won't figure it out. Bill Cowher made a good point (shoot me) by saying that the Bengals might be lucky they haven't peaked yet, despite still winning games.
I KNOW what this passing game is capable of, and I also know that's the one part of this team that's missing right now, and it's frustrating. If that part of our game starts clicking, we're as good as the Colts and the Patriots.
Don't forget the Bears game. When conditions are favorable to putting up points with the passing game, they can. The last two weeks, the pass protection has been troubling. That may be a coaching adjustment to the other team's scouting. It has also prevented them from going downfield. Chris Henry effect? Perhaps.
One reason the score was close today is that the Browns dinked and dunked their way to a loss. They kept themselves in the game, but did not take any chances until the last few drives. I'm glad they were happy with a close loss rather than trying to win the game. A few turnovers, and you have a potential blowout.
The good news, no turnovers this week. I am guessing that we had a "holding emphasis" officiating crew this week, which also stalled a few drives.
The Bengals clearly had a gameplan that they were confident would win the game and stuck with it. It worked.
Here's one thing I don't understand.
How can an offensive line look so good in the running game, but so awful on passing plays? That seriously boggles my mind. They look like a completely different unit on passing plays.
Championships for MY teams in my lifetime:
Cincinnati Reds - 75, 76, 90
Chicago Blackhawks - 10, 13, 15
University of Kentucky - 78, 96, 98, 12
Chicago Bulls - 91, 92, 93, 96, 97, 98
Palmer hasn't had much time to scan the field, instead he's spent a lot of time running up into the pocket trying to avoid getting crushed.
It's certainly correctable. As you said, the talent is there, which is good to know. This team doesn't have a fatal flaw. It has correctable flaws, but not a fatal flaw.
While the game was completly lackluster it reminded me of how the Steelers used to beat the Bengals. Used to run the ball down their throats, control the clock, and win the game. In all reality if the Bengals turn one of those FG's into a TD the game is 20-7. The biggest issue with this club right now is getting the ball into the endzone.
They did hurt themselves today by penalities. Although Mike Carry is a disgrace to all other NFL officials. I really don't know if there is a worse one out there. To many holding calls that derailed drives.
The Browns just weren't an NFL quality team. In the upcoming games the Bengals need to get the ball into the endzone instead of settling for a FG.
"You can't let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one."