Cincinnati Bengals: Marvin Lewis berates players, upset with lack of production on third down

By Jeff Wallner, The Sports Xchange  |  Aug. 22, 2017 at 12:00 PM
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CINCINNATI - A few reporters within earshot heard Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis berate his players in the locker room following Saturday's 30-12 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. But, Lewis offered a more positive spin during his post-game news conference.

Lewis was frustrated with the inability of the Bengals' defense to get off the field on third down, resulting in Chiefs scoring drives of 70, 46, and 75 yards in the first half. While he wasn't pleased with the Chiefs' 50 percent conversion rate on third down, Lewis said there's residual benefits to keeping his starters on the field for long periods of time in the preseason.

"There's no way for us to simulate that (in practice), the pushing and shoving, and all the wear and tear in your legs, the physical part of that," Lewis said. "No way to mimic that. I wish we could script it that way again so I can get their wind. That's good for those guys to have to play that way."

For the moment.

Missed tackles have been the norm for the Bengals' first-team defense in the first two preseason games. Kansas City amassed 410 yards on Sunday, although a lot of that was compiled in the second half when neither team had many starters on the field. But, Lewis made clear he wasn't pleased with the effort put forth by the backups after halftime.

"We didn't play the second half to the standard we expect with the guys we had in there," he said. "We didn't play very well in the second half after we made substitutions."

Third-down efficiency on both sides of the ball needed improvement heading into this season. It's hard to gauge after two preseason games in which the majority of the starters played a little more than two total quarters.

Last season, Cincinnati's defense ranked 16th in the league with a 39.6 third-down conversion rate for opponents. Through two preseason games, the Bengals are allowing 46.2 percent on third down.

"We allowed drives to continue with the third-down conversions," Lewis said after Saturday's game. "That was the difference with our first team in there, the first 15 minutes of the game."

On offense, the Bengals' first teamers did not score on either of their red-zone trips during the loss Saturday, and that is another point of emphasis after they struggled most of last season converting red-zone trips into touchdowns.

"We have to make a play when we're down there," said quarterback Andy Dalton. "We didn't do that tonight. We need to do a better job of that. We want to score touchdowns every time. We moved the ball really well."

Notes: Safety Shawn Williams reportedly suffered a dislocated right elbow during Saturday's preseason game against the Kansas City Chiefs. After colliding with cornerback William Jackson III and Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt, Williams' arm was bent awkwardly. The initial prognosis is 4-to-6 weeks of recovery, but could be longer. The Bengals have minimal depth at safety with starter George Iloka expected back from injury. Williams has missed only one game in his four-year NFL career. ... Wide receiver Josh Malone continues to have an impressive preseason. An injury to second-year speedster Cody Core opened the door for Malone, a fourth-round pick out of Tennessee, and he has made the most of the opportunity. Malone came to Cincinnati with the reputation for being a big, physical receiver and he has shown those attributes. Malone has five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown in the preseason.

Right guard Andre Smith was signed this past offseason to give the Bengals some veteran experience as the starting right guard. But, that experiment is about over. Smith has spent most of the preseason at backup right tackle. Trey Hopkins has taken over at starting right guard and performed well. ... Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson was waived last week and fourth-round pick Ryan Glasgow appears to have the inside track on the position. Thompson spent six seasons with the Bengals, recording 79 tackles and three sacks in 39 games including seven starts.

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