The Cincinnati Bengals’ offense struggled against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 5, falling into a 28-0 hole after Ezekiel Elliot’s 60-yard sprint 3 minutes into the third quarter. Brandon LaFell managed to score 2 garbage-time touchdowns for the Bengals, but Cincinnati failed to get much going outside of Giovani Bernard’s rushing attack in the first half.
Even still, as the Bengals visit the New England Patriots on Sunday, head coach Bill Belichick and his staff are preparing for a potent Cincinnati offense.
“It’s a well-balanced offense, they can get the ball down the field, they do a good job on catch-and-run plays, they run the ball well and they have a good play-action game that utilizes all their skill players,” Belichick said during a Tuesday conference call.
Both Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia both cited the Bengals’ ability to turn simple catch-and-run plays into big gains. Patricia highlighted All-Pro wideout A.J. Green.
“He’s big, he’s long, he’s dynamic, he’s fast, he has great hands, he’s very explosive, he can get in and out of his breaks and he can go up and get the ball,” Patricia said. “His physical size is an issue out on the perimeter and then obviously combine that with the speed to get vertical through the defense and get behind everybody, that creates a big matchup problem for us.”
New England is also preparing for the Bengals’ two-headed running attack of Jeremy Hill and Bernard. “Their backs are a little bit different, but both good and explosive in both the running and the passing game,” Belichick said.
Patricia is impressed with both backs’ abilities to hit holes hard. “Jeremy Hill, being the bigger back, more of the downhill, power running back, strong, explosive likes contact, gets tough yards, does a good job of running with his pads low. He’s definitely a problem from that standpoint,” he said.
“And Giovani Bernard,” Patricia added. “He’s gonna run all the same runs and he does a great job of getting the tough yardage, too. He’ll come down hill, he’ll hit the holes. He has some different bursts and speeds and quickness.”
The Bengals running game has thrived behind a terrific offensive line. “It’s a veteran offensive line. It’s a pretty talented group up a there,” Belichick said.
Said Patricia: “Their offensive line is very experienced, they’ve been playing out there together for a while.”
Kickoff is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. in Foxborough.