On one end, the Bengals earned their first win of the season after besting the Cleveland Browns in an offensive shootout 34-27, but saw backup DE Jamaal Anderson carted off the field late in the game. Anderson, filling in for recovering defensive end incumbent, Carlos Dunlap, certainly sped up the timetable on Dunlap’s recovery due to the Bengals’ lack of depth at defensive line.
Anderson wasn’t playing inspired football by any means for Cincinnati, but, to be fair, no one has during a two-game stretch where the Bengals defense has given up an average of 35.5 points per game. However, Anderson wasn’t playing any worse than the next guy. Cincinnati’s defense is a collective debacle and it’s more because of flawed coaching than any one player. Having Anderson gave head coach Marvin Lewis a nice cushion to bring back Dunlap when he is ready. After Anderson suffered a torn quad muscle yesterday, that cushion no longer exists, especially since league-wide consensus has Anderson missing the rest of the season.
It’s not all bad for the Bengals and their defensive unit though; they could always be the Redskins. Not only did QB Robert Griffin III‘s parade get unexpectedly rained on by the rebuilding St. Louis Rams after a 31-28 loss Sunday; the Skins capped off the disappointing game by losing LB Brian Orakpo (torn pectoral muscle) and DE Adam Carriker (quad injury) for the season.
Losing these two is unquestionably a season-altering blow to a resurgent Redskins defense that has shown a nose for getting to the quarterback. Last year, Orakpo and Carriker combined for 14.5 sacks in a division that yields arguably the best QB play in the league with Eli Manning, Tony Romo, and Michael Vick.
The Bengals’ offensive line certainly caught a break with these two injuries, but it should be said that the big men protecting QB Andy Dalton have been one of the biggest, most surprising successes of Cincinnati’s season so far. Despite losing two starters, LG Travelle Wharton and C Kyle Cook – possibly for the year – the O-line has banded behind the veteran leadership of recently signed journeyman, Jeff Faine and gotten a consistently nice push against the first two defensive fronts they’ve faced, especially in third-and-short situations.
Even with these key injuries to the Skins defense, I still don’t like the Bengals’ chances of going into Washington this Sunday and ruining RGIII’s homecoming. So far, the Bengals run defense has been nearly non-existent and, between RGIII and starting tailback, Alfred Morris, the Skins average 5.2 yards per run attempt and have scored 4 rushing TDs through 2 games.
I expect RGIII’s playmaking ability to simply outclass the Bengals’ gameplan, but at least Andy Dalton’s dreams won’t be cluttered with terrifying visions of Orakpo and Carriker gunning for his head.