Plenty of blame to go around for Bengals’ sputtering offense

CINCNNATI — Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor said after Sunday’s win over the Seahawks, he couldn’t put a thumb on why the offense’s production dropped off after scoring touchdowns the first two drives. Quarterback Joe Burrow also couldn’t pin-point the cause and said he would have to watch the tape and see.

On Monday, the answers still weren’t all that clear, but the Bengals know they were fortunate to get to 3-3 going into the bye. The defense bailed them out in a 17-13 win after the offense took an odd step backward following a strong showing in Week 5 and a fast start to the game Sunday.

The Bengals settled for a field goal after Cam Taylor-Britt’s interception put them in scoring position and that was it after the first two drives went about as well as one could hope. Cincinnati will use the bye week for some self-assessment and rest with hopes of getting back on track for the final 11 games.

“You gotta give credit to a really good defense because any anytime that you don’t perform at your standard, it’s a big part because the defense played well, and they did, so I think Seattle has done a really good job with their scheme and they got really good players that made it difficult on us,” Taylor said when asked what he saw on film. “That being said, the second half you know, you can go drive by drive and it was something different on every single issue. …

“And those were some things that we feel like we could have held ourselves to a higher standard to and done a better job of all around and it was really myself, every player. It was disappointing that we came away with really no points. We got a field goal that the defense really gave us with the turnover and that was that was incredibly disappointing.”

Two drives stalled at the end of the first quarter, but Burrow was still completing passes until that last one and that was perhaps a sign things were starting to unravel for the offense. Burrow threw an interception on the opening drive of the second half, and two sacks on the next possession killed the drive.

Then, Joe Mixon was stopped on third-and-1 to force another punt, and three straight incomplete passes led to an Evan McPherson field goal after Taylor-Britt’s pick. Cincinnati had another sack back up the offense on the next drive, and the Bengals managed just four yards on the last full possession.

Tee Higgins not being 100 percent and left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. exiting in the third quarter with a groin injury might have factored in, but the shortcomings fell on everyone. The Bengals finished the second half with just 62 net yards.

“There’s nobody that came out of that thing clean, myself (included), getting greedy with a couple calls,” Taylor said. “I think every position — Brian did a great job going through it in our offensive meeting just now. You know nobody’s immune to having some players that set us back and Joe’s a part of that, but really you go position by position, player by player and no one can walk out there thinking hey, I did my job to the fullest and I wouldn’t take anything back.”

Lack of efficiency made the offense look predictable and unbalanced. The tight ends were targeted just three times and accounted for two catches and 13 yards combined. Mixon carried the ball only 12 times for 38 yards with a long of 5 yards, and the run game produced a total of 46 yards on 15 carries.

Seattle was known for its stout run defense, but that doesn’t excuse the third-and-short issues.

“I think there’s some technique things in a couple of different positions,” Taylor said.

Asked why the first two drives were different, Taylor said the Bengals were just “really efficient on first and second down” to keep them in manageable situations. Center Ted Karras thought Seattle’s adjustments from a two-high shell to playing middle field closed and blitzing more had an impact.

Wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase said there were some miscommunication issues in the second half and what he described essentially as a lack of fight to get extra yards.

“We just hold ourselves to a standard and we’ve got to execute,” Chase said. “As good of an offense as we have, we just have to stay on top of that and not have mental errors like we did (Sunday). I think we had a couple of those. Simple things like that will take us a long way.”

Whatever the issues, the Bengals just have to start scoring more points, Taylor said.

“That’s clear as day we haven’t scored enough to really take the pressure off our team,” Taylor said. “We know we’re capable of that. Fortunately, we’re in a decent spot here with our record 3-3, where we can control really our own destiny going forward. That’s the benefit of having our defense playing really well to ... give us a chance to take a breath here in the bye week and come out and just get the ball in the end zone. So that’s the biggest thing.”


Sunday, Oct. 29

Bengals at 49ers, 4:25 p.m., CBS, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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