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The Bengals' redesigned offe

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nse had quite an opening month Eric Murray Jersey , putting up yards and points at a far better rate than in the past two seasons.With opponents getting a better idea of what they're doing, Andy Dalton and company have sputtered in the past three games.It's more than just familiarity. Running back Giovani Bernard is sidelined by a knee injury, receiver John Ross has been limited by a groin injury, and the tight end position has been decimated by injuries. What's left hasn't been able to do much.The Bengals (4-3) head into a game Sunday against Tampa Bay (3-3) looking to stop the slide as they reach the season's midpoint and their bye week."We did some things early on in the season that were really good," quarterback Andy Dalton said Wednesday.In the first four games, Cincinnati's offense averaged 24.5 first downs and 376.5 total yards. In the past three, it has managed only 17 first downs per game and 282 yards, both significant drops.Dalton's numbers reflect the trend . He threw for 1,197 yards with 11 touchdowns in the first four games. In the past three, he's thrown for 625 yards with four touchdowns.Their worst showing by far came Sunday night during a 45-10 loss in Kansas City . The Bengals had a season-low 15 first downs and 239 yards against a defense that was last in the league. Dalton threw for only 148 yards and had an interception returned for a touchdown .The offense was shockingly limited in the first half. A.J. Green had six catches for 110 yards. The rest of the receivers combined for four catches for 8 yards. Green accounted for 110 of Cincinnati's 139 yards as the Chiefs took control."A couple of us had quiet games in the first half," said receiver Tyler Boyd, who had three catches for 27 yards overall. "I definitely wanted to make more plays in the first half to ease off A.J. I know he was tired at times, and he made a ton of plays."The Chiefs adjusted their coverage on Green in the second half and nobody else was able to take advantage."We have to be able to react and adjust in-game and get back on track," Dalton said. "Our goal is to get back to the way we were playing and the way we know we can play."The most glaring drop-off has been at the tight end spot with Tyler Eifert done for the season with a broken ankle and Tyler Kroft sidelined by a foot injury. C.J. Uzomah had two catches for 13 yards.Coordinator Bill Lazor told the offense this week that good teams improve as the season goes along Kendall Fuller Jersey , and it's time to get out of the recent rut."We're always mentioning that the sky's the limit for this offense, and Bill was pointing out we're declining," Boyd said.BURFICT STRUGGLINGLinebacker Vontaze Burfict has repeatedly missed tackles since returning from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancers. He also was fined $112,000 for several egregious plays during a loss to the Steelers, including hitting Antonio Brown in the head again.In his three games, Burfict has a total of 17 tackles, no sacks, no interceptions and two passes broken up. He landed on his hip during Sunday's game and was held out of practice on Wednesday."He hasn't played as well as he has in the past," coach Marvin Lewis said. Asked to elaborate, Lewis said, "I don't want to talk about Vontaze. It's not relevant."ALSO SIDELINEDBurfict was one of 10 players held out of practice, along with CB Darqueze Dennard (shoulder), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Achilles), LB Nick Vigil (knee) Sammy Watkins Jersey , long snapper Clark Harris (concussion), RB Giovani Bernard (knee), OT Jake Fisher (back), OT Bobby Hart (back), Kroft and Ross.Rookie center Billy Price returned to practice on a limited basis. He's been sidelined for five weeks by a partially torn ligament in his right foot. DT Adolphus Washington was limited by a tailbone injury. KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes had been shredding the Patriots defense all night with his incredible arm strength and downfield precision in a back-and-forth shootout last month when it looked as if the Chiefs quarterback might be finally corralled by a well-timed blitz.With a deft flip of his wrist, Mahomes instead tossed a soft screen pass to Kareem Hunt out of the backfield, and he raced up the field as the Patriots were forced to chase him.The timing was perfect. The execution was spot-on.It was just one of dozens of examples through the first nine games this season of coach Andy Reid using the screen pass to impressive effect.Whether it’s Hunt out of the backfield, Tyreek Hill or Sammy Watkins on a bubble screen or even tight end Travis Kelce catching a short pass behind the defense, the Chiefs may use their myriad variations of the screen better than any other team.“You are really just taking a blocking scheme and moving it out into space,” Reid explained. “Our backs are good with it, quarterback gives them an opportunity and the big guys get out and run.”The intricate timing plays are fun for just about everybody.Mahomes likes them because the throws are fairly easy and often lead to big gains. Hunt and fellow running back Spencer Ware like them because they can use their talent in space. And even the offensive linemen like them because they often get to plow through smaller defensive backs, rather than tangle with big defensive tackles as they would do on a traditional running play.Oh, and the Chiefs’ fans like them for obvious reasons.Screen passes are hardly new in the NFL Anthony Hitchens Jersey , and indeed, they have been part of Reid’s basic West Coast offense since he was learning the scheme from its originator, Bill Walsh.But with so many playmakers at his disposal, and a quarterback who is finally capable of executing the variety of plays, Reid has taken the old-school notion of screen passes to another level.They might incorporate elements of the run-pass option, a relatively new development that has swept through the NFL.Or they might call for guys to line up in unique spots, such as running backs split wide or a wide receiver in the backfield. Or they might call for exotic blocking schemes.“It’s a timing thing. We have to be in sync with our offensive line,” Ware said. “Our releases are a big part of it — how we escape. The downfield ball with Tyreek, Sammy, Travis and Mahomes throwing it opens it up for us. Then when you have Kareem running how he’s running, they come up and play the run and it’s like, ‘No, it’s not a run, it’s a pass. You’d better get back.’ That gives us some cushion.”Such screen plays often look simple Mitchell Schwartz Jersey , but are in fact quite difficult to execute.Mahomes has to read the defense correctly in the seconds before a snap. The designated target needs to be on the same page. And as Hunt explained, “there’s just a lot of timing involved.”“Yeah,” Mahomes added, “but with how well Coach Reid explains it, everything goes off each other. I think we had a screen and it went off a shovel pass to Kareem the week before, things like that, where we build on top of each other every single week. We are never set in our ways.”That’s another reason the Chiefs’ screen passes are so difficult to defend: They may run a play to one target one week, giving the next opponent film to review, then run the play to a different target out of the exact same formation the following week.Good luck trying to stop that.“Asking these guys to go against faster players, for your offensive linemen to go against these defensive backs and block them in space, that’s tough to do,” Reid said.“We’re fortunate our backs do a nice job of this. They help set up the defense so you can run fast. There’s nothing worse than watching a screen, you get out there and the offensive linemen are out there trying to dance a little bit.“A back can take care of you with that,” Reid concluded. “As long as you know where he’s at Juan Thornhill Kansas City Chiefs Jerseys , he’s going to kind of force the issue downhill, good things can happen.”Notes: Strong safety Eric Berry (heel), OL Cam Erving (illness), LB Anthony Hitchens (ribs), WR Sammy Watkins (foot) and C Mitch Morse (concussion) remained out of practice Thursday. … Special teams coach Dave Toub dismissed a couple of recent missed PATs, saying Thursday that “nobody is harder on himself” than PK Harrison Butker. Toub said snaps have been part of the problem, “and again, it’s a 33-yard field goal. It’s not a chip-shot like it used to be.”

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