Philly Special, or should we say not so special?
Week after week the same old headache keeps reoccurring. If you Google the causes of migraines, the first thing that will pop up from your search is watching Zac Taylor call plays from the sideline for an entire game. As everyone knows by now, the Bengals lost to the Ravens on Sunday night, bringing their record to a disappointing 2-3. While many fans are extremely upset that we didn’t kick a field goal to tie the game which lead to a turnover on downs, I am way more upset with the play calling on all four downs once we made it near the goal line.
With roughly two yards to get into the end zone and a full set of downs, Cincinnati decided to throw a batted pass, lose many yards on one of the worst “Philly Special” calls I have ever witnessed, gained our yardage back, but then decided to go for it on fourth down with an inside shovel pass. Not one single carry for our lead back Joe Mixon or Samaje Perine occurred. Even at 10 years old playing “Madden”, I would’ve known not to run a Philly Special or any play that could’ve lost me a mass amount of yards when we are that close to the goal line.
I imagine somewhere in the world, Marvin Lewis is sitting on a recliner with a smile on his face as he was always known as being a conservative coach. Maybe conservative would have been the right move here by tying the game, maybe not, as hindsight is always 20/20. But my issue is less with going for it on fourth down and more with the issue of the four play calls that lead to the turnover on downs. We have very winnable games approaching and if Cincinnati wants to be playing playoff football, they need to capitalize on the next four games and get a streak going. The Bengals will be taking on an old familiar face next week as they head to Caesars Superdome to take on the New Orleans Saints and starting quarterback Andy Dalton.
· Our defense shined yet again, holding Lamar Jackson to 174 pass yards, 58 rush yards, and one total touchdown. Vonn Bell reeled in another interception, Germaine Pratt lead the team with eight total tackles, and overall the defense played another solid game.
· Joe Mixon finally found some running room, despite not getting a carry at the goal line to most likely win the game. He average 5.6 yards per carry, which is the most that he has averaged in a game so far this season.
· Hayden Hurst displayed great athleticism yet again, while scoring a “Michael Jordan Space Jam-Like” touchdown and hauling in six receptions for 53 yards.
· The offensive line was impressive again this week. It managed to only allow one sack and four pressures.
· Last season, nine teams started 2-3 and five of those teams made the playoffs. The season is just getting started so don’t panic just yet.
· Zac Taylor play calling has to stop. It’s every single week at this point. I am certainly not saying he should be fired, but he has to pass this task on.
· Without Tee Higgins, this offense struggles. Baltimore had a game plan of forcing Cincinnati to beat them on the ground, as they completely took Jamar Chase out of the game. Without Tee, they limited Chase to 50 yards and Boyd to 32 yards. They forced a Burrow interception and frustrated him the entire night, as he had nothing down field for most of the game.
· D.J. Reader was missed dearly, as our rushing “glue” is a key part of stopping opponents on the ground. The Ravens racked up 155 rushing yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry between five different players.
· The Bengals are struggling on offense even with the best trio in football on the outside. Cincinnati is currently averaging 4.81 yards per play this season, ranking as the second worst team in football in this category.
· Did I mention Zac Taylor play calling? OK, just putting emphasis on the poorly executed Philly Special and the atrocious play calling blunders yet again. If he continues to call games as bad as he has this season, maybe we should be more conservative when it comes to putting points on the board.
Del Duduit joins Matt’s Take
Del Duduit was kind enough to join Matt’s Take this week for a question-and-answer. Del and I have many similarities between our careers and our hobby of writing about Cincinnati sports. Del is local as well and has been doing this for a lot longer than I have. Del began covering sports back in 1990 and he is an award-winning sportswriter and best selling author. Many know Del from local sports broadcasting, his devotional and inspirational sports books, and his coverage of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Q: Who do you believe has been the most impactful player on both offense and defense five games into the season?
A: “On offense, I feel the biggest impact player will be Joe Mixon. If he can loosen up the running game, that will give Burrow wide open space to throw to an abundance of receivers. On defense, the key player is Trey Hendrickson. If he can provide pressure and shut down the run, that will allow Jessie Bates, Logan Wilson and Eli Apple to do what they do best.”
Q: It is no secret that we have struggled with the running game so far this season. What do you think is the magic formula that Cincinnati needs to find in order for this to improve? (More snaps for Perine/Evans, offensive line more time to gel, play calling etc)?
A: “Play calling has been an issue the past two seasons. Zac Taylor has a tendency to have at least one questionable offensive call — and most of them are on fourth downs. His gambling has to simmer down and take points when given the opportunity. He has a clutch kicker with McPherson. The magic formula will be if the line can give Mixon some room to run. He is a tough runner and receiver.”
Q: During your long career of writing and broadcasting, what has been your favorite moment while covering the Bengals?
A: “I’ve covered the Bengals for several years. Without a doubt it was covering the Super Bowl in Los Angeles with the team in February 2022.”
Matthew McAdow is a Peebles resident. He works in human resources in the nuclear industry and has been an avid Cincinnati fan his entire life. He is an Ohio Christian University graduate and has always enjoyed giving an honest opinion on multiple topics regarding Cincinnati sports.