The day after a surprising blowout loss in their home opener, the Cincinnati Bengals spent plenty of time reviewing the film.
Coach Zac Taylor said during his press conference Monday afternoon, the entire team went series-by-series together through the first half of Sunday’s 41-17 loss to San Francisco, keying in on every error.
The Bengals (0-2) remain confident they can correct mistakes this week before heading to Buffalo for Sunday’s game against the unbeaten Bills (2-0). Cincinnati had entered Game 2 with so much optimism after opening with a strong showing in a one-point loss at Seattle.
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“Ultimately the details we were on top of in Week 1, we let slip in Week 2,” Taylor said. “It was disappointing to see that, so we’ve got to make those corrections, but when you go back through the tape, the encouraging thing is it’s usually one player on each deal, each play. We just need all 11 on the same page and we will be in much better shape going forward.”
Taylor didn’t go through film series-by-series after the 21-20 loss at Seattle, but felt it was important to see every mistake made Sunday because of how lopsided the game was. He said players took responsibility, and it was a positive review session, as difficult as it probably was to watch.
“In a game like this that got away from you like this did, we want to correct every error,” Taylor said. “We see we are not far away in every phase. There were a lot of things we could have done to go to halftime down 3, but we just didn’t do it. It’s important for everyone to see how close we are and how quickly it can open the wrong way if we are not on top of the details in all phases.”
Among the biggest problems Sunday, the Bengals gave up 572 yards, including 222 yards in the third quarter, and managed just 34 yards rushing. Taylor wasn’t as concerned about Joe Mixon’s inability to do more but rather about fixing the “little details” that play into the running game.
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Mixon had 17 yards on 11 carries, and Cincinnati has 59 yards rushing total through two games.
“When you watch the 13 ‘proper down and distance’ runs we had (Sunday), it’s usually just one player,” Taylor said. “It’s not like you can point the finger at the same guy. It’s just mis-targeting here, one guy getting beat in a one-on-one here and so those are things we’ve got to clean up. As we get our rhythm in the run game, which we will get going here, we will feel a lot better about it.
“The frustrating thing is watching as a group and seeing the running game, how close we are to having some big plays — some got called back on some calls — but we don’t feel we are far off and when you are down 31-10 the first possession of the second half it becomes a different game. It is disappointing, but we feel confident we will get that back on track.”
Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo was perplexed by how different things went in Week 2 compared to Week 1 when the Bengals limited the Seahawks to 232 yards – 72 on the ground. Seattle led the league in rushing yards last year with 160.0 per game.
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The 49ers racked up 259 yards on 42 carries Sunday.
“I think the whole thing is something you never expect to go into a game and give up that many yards, obviously,” Anarumo said. “They’ve got to come away with everybody looking into the mirror and taking accountability to themselves, each and every one of us. Half their yards came after missed tackles and screens. We gave up over 160 yards after contact and 100 yards of screens. You take those two things away — which you can’t — and that’s a major part of what they did. Now they had a good plan and all that, all credit to the Niners, but it’s unacceptable. We’ve got to play better than that.”
San Francisco’s two-back running game opened up the whole “kitchen sink” for the offense, which featured misdirection plays that kept Cincinnati off-balance. None of it was unexpected, though.
The Bengals emphasize all the basics of individual positions every day for 15 minutes of practice, but Anarumo said they’ll go back through “Football 101” this week to correct the mistakes.
“I think you saw a little bit of a program that’s in their third year as a staff versus a program that’s in their sixth month,” Anarumo said. “I’m not making excuses by any shape or form, but we’re still working on things that we shouldn’t be and we’ll get that fixed this week.”
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