- By Laurel Pfahler Contributing Writer
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis came into his weekly press conference Monday afternoon, exchanged pleasantries with the media and commented that he was tired.
With a quick turnaround to Thursday’s home opener against Baltimore, there wasn’t much time to rest Sunday night as he reviewed film of the team’s 34-23 win at Indianapolis and began preparations for the Ravens.
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After just two hours of sleep his assessments could be boiled down to one sentence.
“I think we’ve got a lot of improvement we’ve got to make and make it in a hurry,” Lewis said.
The Bengals rallied from a 13-point deficit, scoring 24 unanswered points to come away with a win in Week 1, but two key areas stood out as the biggest factors to the team’s slow start Sunday. The Colts picked apart the middle of the Bengals defense with quick, short passes, which defensive coordinator Teryl Austin addressed with local media Monday morning, and Lewis acknowledged the protection needs to be better up front on offense.
The right side of the offensive line alone could be keeping Lewis up at night.
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Lewis didn’t mention any players by name when asked specifically about the performance of the offensive line, but according to ProFootballFocus.com, right guard Alex Redmond and right tackle Bobby Hart earned the two lowest grades of any Bengals offensive player. Cincinnati allowed a total of 13 pressures on Andy Dalton, and Redmond and Hart accounted for 10 of them. Redmond earned a 56.5 overall grade across 56 offensive snaps, allowing five total pressures and Hart had a 37.4 overall grade while also allowing five pressures.
According to ProFootballFocus.com, the Bengals running backs totaled eight yards on five carries (1.6 yards per carry) when rushing to the right and left of Redmond, but rushing everywhere else, they totaled 85 yards on 13 carries (6.54 yards per carry).
“I thought we did a good job in the running game for the most part offensively, but we have to shore a few things up protection wise — we got pulled a little bit,” Lewis said. “We have to keep understanding that and keep fitting in the right spots. That would be helpful. … We just have to keep building upon the performance yesterday throughout the season and be a little sounder in a couple of details to what we’re doing.”
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The Ravens won’t make it much easier this week. In a 47-3 win over the Bills on Sunday, they allowed Buffalo just 153 total yards on 61 plays for an average of 2.5 yards per play, and Baltimore finished with six sacks.
When asked if players on the offensive line are on a short leash, Lewis said that is the case at any position.
“It doesn’t matter the position, you’ve got to get your job done,” he said. “Otherwise, we have to find someone else to do it better if you’re preventing us from winning the football game, we have to find a different way.”
In terms of the defense, Austin said the way the Colts exploited the middle of his defense showed some areas for improvement, but he wasn’t completely bothered by the overall performance.
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When Indianapolis did look deep, the Bengals didn’t give up much. The longest pass play came on a 26-yard touchdown to tight end Eric Ebron – where Austin said there was miscommunication — and that’s something he hopes to also limit Thursday against Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco.
“At the end of the day, they had 53 (pass attempts), they had one explosive pass play of 26 yards and one explosive run of 12 yards, so I think in our mind there’s lots of things we can do better,” Austin said. “But, if we can keep teams to those types of numbers where they’re not getting big, explosive plays on us, we’re going to have a chance, we’re going to be in about every game and have a chance to win every game.”