“Near mutiny” forced the hand of Marvin Lewis
So why did Bengals coach Marvin Lewis fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese? Lewis basically had no choice.
After two home games only four days apart and zero touchdowns and nine total points scored, Lewis was facing a “near mutiny,” a league source tells PFT. The normally quiet A.J. Green publicly sounded off, and plenty of other players had plenty of pointed things to say privately, we’re told.
The fact that Lewis would cut the cord so quickly underscores how poorly the week has gone for Zampese, who simply hasn’t been able to do what Hue Jackson (and Jay Gruden before him) did with the offense of a team led by a defensive-minded coach. Yes, the fact that Zampese was fired after two games suggests he should have been fired after the 2016 season. Lewis nevertheless had to do something to keep things from imploding.
So what will Bill Lazor need to do to turn things around? As discussed on Friday’s PFT Live, the Bengals seem to spread the ball around to too many weapons, instead of building the attack around their best player(s). Throw it deep to A.J. Green at least every other drive; even when he doesn’t catch it, knowing it may be coming will open up the rest of the field. Pick a running back and make him the workhorse, instead of trying to spin the dial from Jeremy Hill to Joe Mixon to Gio Bernard.
The teams that can get away with having so many different players touching the ball typically have franchise quarterbacks distributing it -- and distributing it so well that no one grumbles about not getting it enough. With Andy Dalton regressing, the ball isn’t being distributed effectively, and those who believe they should be getting it more often are going to begin to get upset.
So that’s the free advice to Lazor. Take shots to Green and John Ross, who disappeared after an unavoidable fumble that happened when Kareem Jackson put his helmet right on the ball. Pick a tailback and let him pound and pound and pound some more.
Here’s another tidbit for Lazor: Cultivate true leaders on offense. Dalton seems disengaged to the point of disinterested when things aren’t going well. Someone needs to show some fire and passion to snap this offense out of its funk. If not the quarterback, then it needs to be someone else.