It would be disingenuous to give the Cincinnati Bengals’ current offense much credit, because, frankly, they really don’t have a lot of talent out there on the field beyond running back Joe Mixon. Quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receivers A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd, and tight ends Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft are all on injured reserve already.
What remains is the likes of Jeff Driskel at quarterback, C.J. Uzomah and Ryan Hewitt at tight end, and John Ross, Alex Erickson, and Cody Core at wide receiver. None of these are really names that are going to strike fear in your heart.
Ross, last year’s first-round draft pick, has played in every game this season, starting 12, but he has come up with just 20 receptions for 209 yards, averaging 10.5 yards per catch. The player who recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time in Combine history is averaging fewer yards per catch than Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Jesse James.
He does have a very impressive seven touchdowns on those 20 receptions, so he has found ways to get into the end zone. Two of his three explosive receptions on the year have done for scores, but he also has five touchdowns from within the six-yard line, so he has had success in tight spaces as well.
Core has been the number three receiver at times this season and has led to him catching 13 passes so far this year for 160 yards with a touchdown. Erickson, who is also their return man and had success there against Pittsburgh earlier this year, has also pitched in 14 catches for 104 yards.
Of course Uzomah is one of their biggest threats right now, with 42 catches for 433 yards on the season. Both of those are team-highs behind Green and Boyd, neither of whom will of course be tough to cover today. He had his best game of the season against the Steelers earlier this year.
Mixon and Driskel will have to be the biggest concerns. Mixon has rushed for 1063 yards with eight touchdowns with close to another 300 yards in the air, plus another score. He considers himself a Pro Bowl snub as he leads the AFC in rushing yardage.
As for Driskel, the concern with him is his mobility. While he has taken 12 sacks in the past five games since Dalton’s injury, he has also gotten himself out of a lot of trouble because he can move around in the pocket. He also has 117 rushing yards and two touchdowns with his legs, so he will need to be contained.
But at the end of the day, not even Mike Tomlin can make this group sound dangerous. This is a neutered offense without the likes of Dalton, Green, Eifert, and Boyd. There’s no reason the Steelers should struggle against this group. That doesn’t mean they won’t.