Start early, set up the play action:
The Bengals offense got off to a slow start not putting anything on the board until right before halftime. This cannot be the case again. The Bears defensive front 7 can take over the game against the Bengals offensive line if they let them. Cincinnati needs to keep Chicago’s defense on their toes. Starting hot allows you to do whatever you want on offense. We saw the running game flourish last week as Joe Mixon is the leagues leading rusher after week one. Establishing the run early allows the Bengals to exploit a big bears weakness. Their secondary. With fear of the run game, Cincinnati can run play action and attack downfield with Joe Burrow. The more effective the ground game is and the more they can work off of play action the less pressure is on Joe Burrow and the less he will get hit.
The strength of this Bears defense is their front 7 which could spell doom for the Bengals. Khalil Mack and Roqaun Smith are a force to be reckoned with. They’re responsible for carrying this Bears defense with a depleted secondary. Cincinnati needs to counteract this by setting up the play-action and fooling the Bears defense up front. They’ll be susceptible to the deep ball downfield but it starts with the run to set up the pass.
Attack the weak Bears secondary:
Matthew Stafford wrecked havoc on the Bears secondary gashing them for 306 yards, 3 touchdowns, and missed only 6 throws the entire game. Two plays stick in my mind in particular. The wide open bombs to Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson. The Rams exploited a hole in the Bears zone scheme, one of which plays was set up by the play action. Further evidence Cincinnati will need to have a balanced offense on Sunday to set up the play action. Chicago is vulnerable to the deeo ball, and for a team who struggled to connect on the big play last year, this is a great opportunity for the Bengals.
Play calling needs to be less conservative:
We saw the Cincinnati offense start the season out cooped up. The Bengals talented offense did not put up their first points until after the 2 minute warning just before halftime. They exploded in those final two minutes with quick back to back scores from Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase. The offense wasn’t all fireworks however as they were hindered by the play selection.
Zac Taylor wanted to start conservative to protect his passer Joe Burrow coming off of a major injury from the year prior. But as the game wore on and Joe Burrow got evidently more comfortable the offense opened up. Until they shut back down again and deservedly so after Joe Burrow took a hit and limped off the field on a 4th down. However when the offense went back to running on the early downs and adapted to a short passing game on 3rd downs the team nearly blew a 21-7 lead. The offense was ineffective during crucial drives in the 4th quarter and overtime. You can’t win many games when you can’t preform how you need to when you need to. Cincinnati will need to be more balanced, unpredictable and aggressive in the upcoming games and that starts with Joe Burrow’s health.
The play calling will entirely depend on the confidence Zac Taylor has in Joe Burrow’s safety. The offensive line HAS to show up. Keeping Burrow safe, will keep Zac’s confidence high and the offense will be more aggressive. It’s the only way the Bengals win some of these games coming up.