Bengals vs. Cardinals: Early Impressions by the Numbers in Week 5
What are Bengals head coach Zac Taylor's first impression of Kyler Murray? “Creative. The play is always alive,” Taylor acknowledged in his weekly press conference. He understands what lies ahead. Not in any cliché, respect type of way. he added that “[He’s] followed Kliff Kingsbury since his Texas Tech days.” Adding his appreciation of the "Air Raid" system as well, numbers show that even for an 0-4 Arizona Cardinals team, it has potential in the future.
4.7 rushing yards per attempt ranks 10th in the league and should be noted to be the most dramatic change of this Cardinals offense. Although All-Pro RB David Johnson is only averaging 3.8 YPC, they have found an array of ways to attack defenses through the ground. With the added running dynamic of rookie QB Kyler Murray & a continued expanded role for backup RB Chase Edmonds, Cincinnati needs to expect a multitude of variations from Kliff. As the Bengals have allowed 143 yards per game (26th worst) on the ground to opponents in 2019, the Cardinals could take a more controlled approach to the game.
As electrifying as the Cardinals could be, their main factor that prohibits from it being a must-watch, is their OL. Given his extreme athleticism, it became a reason as to why many said Murray could suppress this problem more efficiently versus Rosen.
However, this has not appeared to be fully, and with the likely returns of DE Carl Lawson & DT Ryan Glasgow, the timing is near perfect for the Bengals. A league-leading 5.0 sacks per game, likely pressure to an already debilitating Cardinals offense is gold for a Cincy defense, that is coming off a cold week with 0 sacks.
Another aspect that has been a killer for this Cardinals offense is their red zone success. According to teamrankings.com, Arizona has been able to convert on only 35.71% of their chances in the red zone into touchdowns. With a new quarterback in place, timing can be so critical in this field of play as well as a worthy OL that can muster a push off the line of scrimmage.
The season is young as well as Murray & their OL shows no promise, so perhaps the Bengals can instill a "bend but don't break mentality," after allowing the Steelers to go 1-2 in the red zone (10 total points). In comparison, Cincinnati is not any better at a 27.27% conversion rate, being a factor to watch this week.
Now on the opposite side, it is hard to miss in any Bengals related article in the past week that didn't mention their sack total given up against the Pittsburgh Steelers. An atrocity for an offense that is looking for a new hope with their rookie HC Zac Taylor, the week may not get any easier for them. 44 sacks. No, this isn't a team total or some number in the history of the two teams. Instead, Arizona Cardinals DE Chandler Jones holds sole responsibility for it. The NFL sack leader since 2016, Jones is a worry for any defensive coordinator, any week of the season. Still, without both starting OTs, the Bengals will need to help Dalton in the pocket by first aiding whoever finds themselves across Jones.
Removing the years and intangibles between the two quarterbacks, these two teams are relatively similar. From the level of talent across their depth charts and where it is distributed, to the situations with their coaching, someone has to be on their way to their debut NFL reaction from a Gatorade bath. Unless, of course, we get a rerun of what happened in week one with one of these teams. Numbers aside, it seems likely.