While I'm not a huge fan of Andy Dalton, I think the bigger problem with the Bengals offense against the Chargers was their play-calling. Dalton had 51 attempts, 57% completion, 1 TD, and 2 picks. There is no reason whatsoever Dalton should be getting 50+ attempts. If you break it down, the Bengals had their 2 best drives of the game in the 2nd quarter. The first was a run-heavy drive of 8 rushing attempts or dumps to the RB, 2 were passes. That was their lone TD of the game. This set up the next drive, allowing them to drive another 60 yards, which looked like it would've ended in a TD had Bernard not fumbled. Once the Bengals lost the lead, with 6:46 left to go in the 3rd quarter, they completely abandoned the run. They ran 42 plays after that point, 5 rushing attempts, 36 drop-backs in shotgun formation. At one point they ran 24 pass plays in a row in shotgun formation. Even the best, most pass happy offenses like Denver or New Orleans, don't have that kind of play-calling. It was abysmal and it will get overlooked because Dalton is the easiest target to blame.
|Andy Dalton in loss to the Chargers - Taken from ESPN|
I saw a few ESPN analysts criticize the Cincinatti defense, I think that's totally unfair to the Bengals defense. If you take away the Ronnie Brown 58-yard TD run with 2 minutes left in the hopeless game (right after a turnover on downs which pretty much sealed it), the Bengals gave up 138 yards on 39 attempts, thats 3.5 YPC. Yet these ESPN analysts are taking about how the Bengals D-line got manhandled up front? Get outta town. At one point Cincinatti turned it over 3 times in a row, all 3 times in their own territory. The subsequent result was 2 FGs and a Punt. To say it was a team loss is totally incorrect. This was a loss on the Bengals offense - the play-calling, Bernard's fumble, and Dalton's mistakes. It was an offensive collapse that can't merely be labelled "fluke" plays.