After getting their first win of the season, the Cincinnati Bengals face tough circumstances. They’ve got a short week to prepare for the Miami Dolphins, who’ll visit Paycor Stadium under the lights of Thursday Night Football.
The Bengals – fresh off a 27-12 win versus the New York Jets – will walk into the game feeling good about themselves. How couldn’t they?
Last weekend, the defense got four turnovers, Trey Hendrickson had an elite performance, and Joe Burrow was protected by his offensive line most of the game.
In fact, oddsmakers also feel better about the Bengals as Cincinnati is currently a four-point favorite over the team that just beat the Buffalo Bills. Tua Tagovailoa or not, expect the home team to remain favored leading up to Thursday’s matchup.
And although the Bengals deserve all of the credit for bouncing back, it’s clear there are still questions that must be answered for the offense. The biggest of which is how to beat Cover 2.
Last week, The Ringer’s Ben Solak did a marvelous job breaking down the Bengals’ woes against the old-school pass coverage scheme that caused defeats versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Dallas Cowboys. I recommend giving it a read here.
“Burrow isn’t struggling with Cover 2 because that particular coverage confounds him. Taylor isn’t lacking for designs that open receivers up against Cover 2, explained Solak in the article.
“It’s just, plainly, harder to throw the football against Cover 2 than it is against single-high coverages—and the Bengals can’t find a way to get single-high on passing downs.”
One would’ve expected the Jets to live up to the oldest cliché in the league and play copycat. But for some odd reason (stubbornness), they didn’t.
In fact, according to Andrew Russell, the Jets ran Cover 2 in only ONE passing snap. This reminds me of Gus Bradley’s Raiders playing Cover 3 against the Kansas City Chiefs last year and getting whooped!
Snaps vs Cover 2 by week for the Bengals offense:— Andrew Russell (@Andrew_Russell7) September 26, 2022
Week 1: 30 (31%)
Week 2: 26 (39%)
Week 3: 1 (2%)
We got stubborn Saleh.
Now, there might be some disagreement as to how many snaps exactly the Jets played Cover 2 but the disparity is big enough to say the Jets came into the game with the wrong game plan.
I certainly don’t expect that to continue to be the case moving forward.
The Bengals are likely to face plenty of Cover 2 and other two-high coverages the rest of the season. That likely includes the Dolphins on Thursday night.
Although Bengals fans should be excited about avoiding an 0-3 start to the season, they should also be aware that this offense has much more to prove. The team has the talent to fix anything, it’s up to the coaches to figure it out.
Featured image via Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports