As the Bengals prepared to face the Browns two weeks ago, a member of the Cleveland media asked Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco whether the team misses receiver Chris Henry.
“No,” Ochocinco said, with a tone in his voice that suggested, “Why in the hell would you ask that?” (And even though the plain text of the sentence indicates that Ochocinco didn’t actually say, “Why in the hell would you ask that?,” we still need to point out that he didn’t say it. Otherwise, some of you will think that he did.)
The facts suggest that it was a very good question.
Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer explains that the team’s offense has been struggling of late, specifically in the passing game and in the red zone.
Henry suffered a season-ending broken arm in Week Eight against the Ravens. Since then, the Bengals have slid from first in the league in red-zone touchdown percentage to 11th.
They also rank 18th in total offense, and 21st in passing.
“You expect to score every possession and never come off the field or
never punt,” quarterback Carson Palmer said, per Reedy. “There have been games where we’re running
the ball play after play after play and we’re in our own stadium
getting booed for that. But that’s what gets a win.”
Reedy explains that, between Week Seven against Chicago and Week Eight against the Ravens, Cincinnati scored on 10 straight drives with Palmer at the helm. In 53 drives since scoring their last touchdown against Baltimore, the Bengals have scored only four touchdowns.
It doesn’t mean the Bengals have no shot at beating the Vikings. All year, the Bengals have risen to the challenge of playing good teams — even if two of the teams they beat twice each might not have been all that good. But if Cincy wants to win, they either need to pump up the passing game or play great defense against a pretty good offense.