Editor’s Note: We’re very lucky here at BLD to be part of Fansided, a wide-reaching network with blogs for every NFL team (as well as a huge selection of NBA, NHL, MLB, and other blogs as well). We’d be dumb not to take advantage of these resources, so welcome to our new feature: Behind Enemy Lines. Each week, we’ll be checking in with the staff from the Fansided blog representing the Bills’ opponent for that the week.
This week, we’re checking in with Cody Byers, the editor of Stripe Hype, Fansided’s superb Bengals blog. A big thank you to Cody for taking the time to answer some Bengals questions for us as we get ready for the Bills’ trip to Cincinnati Sunday.
Q: I’m not going to lie – I thought the Bengals were going to be the worst team in the NFL this season. And I was totally wrong, because they’ve been very competitive thus far. Are you happy with the way the season has started, given how dire this year could have been?
A: I’m happy with it honestly. It’s a young team with a lot of growing pains, but seeing the promising tandem of Andy Dalton & A.J. Green makes this rebuilding year a lot more bearable.
Q: How are you feeling about the Andy Dalton era so far? He’s certainly exceeded my expectations in his first three games.
A: He’s doing as well as I was expected, so I’m very happy. I watched a lot of tape on him prior to the draft and I loved everything about his game. His ability to command a huddle is impressive at his young age (It’s been noted that he’s not afraid to get in front of a veteran’s face when he has to) and really is grabbing on how to run the West Coast Offense.
Q: I’m not sure most NFL fans could name more than a couple Bengal defenders, but it appears to be a very good, very underrated unit. Who are the key players we should watch out for on Sunday?
A: 2 of the key players of the Bengals D are the 2 with the long Samoan hair; LB Rey Mauluaga and DT Domata Peko. (The hair should make finding them be pretty simple). Domata is a team leader on and off the field and has the presence to command a double team. Rey is a young defender who on a larger market team would be finding a lot more attention.
Q: It wouldn’t be a Bengals season without some off-the-field distractions. So far we have the Anthony Collins/Jerome Simpson drug issues as well whatever the heck is going on with Cedric Benson. Are these issues actually going to hurt the team, or are Cincinnati players just used to this kind of thing by now?
A: I think most may be used to it in all honesty. Many may be used to because they’ve been with the team for so long, while the young guys are probably familiar with off-field distractions in college. When teams have 100+ 20-year-old players on rosters there’s bound to be some of field distractions.
Q: Any other key stories or concerns headed into the game Sunday?
A: The Bengals need to try to figure out the secret to converting on 3rd down. In the past two weeks they’ve only converted twice on 3rd down. The defense is doing great, but the O can’t get things going. Last week the Bengals time of possession was only 24 minutes. They have room for improvement to say the least.
Q: How about a prediction for the game?
A: Not sure, series history makes me lean towards Bills. If the Bengals offense is firing on all cylinders I believe the Bengals win. But if the Bengals don’t have a 1st down by half time, Bills win.