Fay: Bengals firing coordinator might help, but problems with offense are much bigger

CINCINNATI -- Good for the Bengals. They recognized how bad it was and fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese and promoted quarterback coach Bill Lazor.

My question: Is Lazor going to play right or left tackle?

Watching the Bengals go eight quarters without a touchdown, you had to question the scheme Thursday night in a 13-9 loss to Houston, it seemed like they either ran it on first down or threw it way down field.

The plays that followed A.J. Green’s 50-yard catch were particularly curious and they netted minus-7 yards.

As the game wore on Thursday night, I had one thought: The Bengals' only chance is if the Texans blow it. Deshaun Watson has to throw a pick six or the punt coverage breaks down because the Bengal offense looks completely incapable of seizing the game and winning it. 

The Texans didn’t blow it, of course.

Green seemed to question the scheme afterward.

“When it’s crunch time though, we have to get our playmakers the ball,” he said. “It’s simple as that.”

Green had a point. He and Tyler Eifert have been extremely underused so far. The three-back rotation hasn’t been effective.

Next up are the Packers in Green Bay. The line could be double digits there. You can’t hope everyone is going to get a little better and it will be all right up north.

So Zampese takes the fall. It’s hard not to put some of the blame on him. Andy Dalton is 50-24-1 with his previous offensive coordinators and 6-11-1 with Zampese.

Lazor was the offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins from 2014 to November of 2015 when he lost his job in a coaching shakeup. He was extremely cautious in his comments to media on Friday.

“The philosophy is to score as many points as we can to beat the Packers,” Lazor said. “That’s it, and we’ll take from there. When something like this happens in the season, you can’t go much further than that. It would be nice if we could. We have a real tough task at hand. We’ll let the philosophy work out as we go.”

Will changing coordinators help? Possibly. But back to that cheesy line about Lazor playing tackle -- the problems start up front.

Going into the season, I thought the Bengals could be a playoff team if the offensive line could be decent. Big, big if, right?

The line’s been abysmal. They’ve allowed seven sacks and dozens of quarterback pressures. The running game is averaging 3.5 yard per carry.

Pro Football Focus rates all five starters in the poor range. That’s difficult to fix now. You can’t find a left tackle on the waiver wire and you can’t undo letting Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler both walk.

So you change coordinators.

Scheme can make a difference. The Ravens beat the Bengals without Joe Flacco throwing down field. A quick-hitting passing game theoretically would take some of the pressure off Dalton and build his confidence.

Lazor hinted that he’ll try to do that.

“In a very small amount of time today, I’ve thought about when the game starts, as coordinator -- some games you have different plans -- but two of the most important things are get the quarterback in rhythm and get the running back in the rhythm,” Lazor said. “We’ve got a number of good running backs we share that with right now.

“As we have some time this evening and tomorrow, specifically with Andy, the responsibility will be mine to make sure we get him going.”

Lazor, by the way, did say he’s never used a three-back system. 

So while he was very careful with what he said Friday, things are probably going to change. 

John Fay is a freelance sports columnist; this column represents his opinion. Contact him at johnfayman@aol.com

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