Bengals' passing game collectively sputters as Cincinnati stays winless

AP Photo/D. Ross Cameron

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Those who believed a quarterback change could bolster the Cincinnati Bengals' struggling passing attack might have been misguided.

Even with rookie quarterback Ryan Finley behind center, the Bengals struggled to move the ball through the air in a 17-10 loss to the Oakland Raiders. In his second career start, Finley was 13-of-31 passing for 115 yards and one interception. The Bengals lost their 12th straight game, the longest streak in franchise history, and matched the worst start to a season (0-10).

Finding a long-term solution at quarterback is one of Cincinnati’s primary objectives heading into 2020, when the Bengals will likely have a top-three NFL draft pick. However, they have more questions that must be answered.

Cincinnati struggled with its pass-blocking. Raiders rookie Maxx Crosby had three sacks and had success on both edges of the line of scrimmage. The Bengals’ beleaguered group of wide receivers struggled to get any separation, an issue that first-year coach Zac Taylor referenced after last week’s loss against Baltimore.

When veteran QB Andy Dalton was benched earlier in the season, Taylor noted that the offensive problems weren’t squarely on the quarterback. With Finley behind center, that sentiment still holds true.

Cincinnati’s front-office personnel will have to evaluate several positions across the roster this offseason as they collectively roll up their sleeves to start the rebuilding process. And it’s going to take more than a young quarterback to fix the passing attack.

QB breakdown: Finley struggled in his road debut as the team’s starter. He completed only 42 percent of his passes and threw an interception as the Bengals tried to mount a rally in the final two minutes. Finley was fortunate not to throw his second pick-six in as many weeks when Oakland cornerback Trayvon Mullen dropped a potential interception. Finley also struggled to stretch the field. According to NFL Next Gen, Finley had only eight targets of 10 or more yards.

Silver lining: The Bengals’ pass rush had its best week of the season. Cincinnati tallied three sacks against the Raiders. It was one shy of the four sacks the Bengals had in the season opener against Seattle. Coming into Sunday’s game, the Bengals were last in the NFL with 10 sacks. Injuries have hampered the entire unit, and the team has struggled to win one-on-one battles throughout the season. The showing in Oakland is a positive sign for a unit that needs to improve.

Eye-popping Next Gen Stat: The Bengals’ wide receivers struggled to get any space against the Raiders’ secondary. The unit averaged 1.4 separation yards. Coming into Week 11, the lowest by any group of receivers in the NFL was 1.31 yards.