Cleveland Browns, chaotic AFC North all tied up in knots
Bengals generate no offense versus the Bears
Because the Browns play the Bears this Sunday, it will be interesting to compare their performance to the performance of the Bengals versus the Bears this past Sunday. The Red Rifle, Andy Dalton played well until he was injured, and gave his team a 7-0 lead in the first half on nine for 11 passing. However, his knee was bent the wrong way in a scrum, so Justin Fields came in and went six for 13 with an interception.
That was good enough to beat the Bengals, because Joe Burrow threw three interceptions for Cincinnati, allowing the Bears to escape with an undeserved 20-17 win. The Bengals’ offense made Chicago’s defense look every bit as good as the 1985 Bears’ defense. Fields was awful, with a passer rating of 27.7. He also took off running ten times for a pathetic 31 yards (3.1 yards per carry). He was not quite at the level of Lamar Jackson in Baltimore.
Thus, the short answer is that Andy Dalton has still got it and he was definitely better than Justin Fields. If Dalton is healthy, he should get the start and he is, in fact, a threat. He is a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, and he is only 33. Residents of the Jungle falsely blame Dalton for all their problems. The truth is that that organization has had problems that are years in the making and are short on talent across the board. Dalton may not be the next Johnny Unitas, but he is not the only problem that the Bengals had.
The Bears were able to slow down Joe Mixon (20 totes, 69 yards, only 3.45 yards per carry). The Bears are tough up front with a base 3-4 defense that includes Akiem Hicks, Khyiris Tonga (in for Eddie Goldman), and Bilal Nichols, on the defensive line. Linebackers are All-Universe Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith, and Alec Ogletree, and Robert Quinn. The front seven is the strength of the team, built to stop the run and disrupt the passing game.
Once the ball gets airborne, the perception in recent years is that the Bears’ secondary is not as formidable as the front seven. However, Jaylon Johnson has been outstanding at cornerback and through two games is the second highest-graded cornerback in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. Johnson picked off Joe Burrow last week, one of three consecutive picks by the normally interception-proof quarterback.
Burrows’ other picks came from linebacker Roquan Smith, a studly pick-six as he jumped Tyler Boyd’s route, and by defensive lineman Angelo Blackson as Burrow was being swarmed by the pass rush. The latter was classic Bears and is definitely what they will try to do to Baker Mayfield on Sunday.
Browns fans will recognize former Pro Bowler Tashaun Gipson at safety. They may be tougher in the secondary than people realize.
Ja’Marr Chase was awful in exhibition games but is better now that the season has started. He has seven catches in 11 targets for 155 yards. He has managed to antagonize fans by talking about records, rather than following the time-honored advice that rookies should be seen but not heard. But you know what, Bengals fans?
Wide receivers tend to have obnoxious personalities. As long as your guy stays out of jail it’s not worth getting freaked out about how he behaves as a rookie. The veterans will keep him in line.
The Bengals allowed four sacks versus the Bears. Can the Browns do better on Sunday? They better, if they want to score points and win, because we have already determined that the pass defense is underperforming.