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Cincinnati Bengals

Good, Bad, and Ugly of Bengals’ First Half

Andre Edwards

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We have officially reached the halfway point of the the Bengals’ season.  After the first eight games, the home team stands at a very respectable 5-3.   Had I taken a poll of the average fan, before the season began, I am pretty sure the vast majority would have been on board with this result, including yours truly.  The first half of the year has seen plenty of ups and downs, so let’s take a look at what has made this one of the more interesting seasons for our Cincinnati Bengals thus far.

 

THE GOOD

Tyler Boyd – The third year wide receiver has truly come into his own following a tumultuous second season.  After eight games this year, Boyd is on pace for 98 catches, 1,240 yards, and 10 TDs.  That is an amazing stat line given his second year production – 22 rec., 225 yds., and two TDs.  Since the departure of Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones, the Bengals have been searching for a complimentary piece to AJ Green.  Boyd has been that and more for the Bengals, seemingly converting every critical third down, and beating single coverage all over the field.  Given the injuries and ineptitude of John Ross, Tyler Boyd deserves to be in the conversation for offensive player of the year on this team.

 

Jesse Bates – With their second round pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Bates out of Wake Forest.  Most expected Bates to be worked in as the third safety either behind, or in combination with George Iloka and Shawn Williams.  To the surprise of many, Iloka was cut in the preseason, and Bates was thrust into the starting safety role for week one.  He has done nothing but be impressive, while rewarding the Bengals for their confidence in him with three interceptions.  According to Pro Football Focus, Bates is the third highest rated safety in all of football – not just for a rookie, but every safety in the game.  That is pretty darn impressive for the 46th pick in the draft.

THE BAD

The Defense – This could have very easily been put into the ugly category, as this defensive unit has been ghastly, to say the least.  After eight games, this defense ranks 29th out of 32 teams in points allowed, according to Pro Football reference. For those keeping track at home… that is not good.  The main culprit seems to be the linebacking corp.  Once Nick Vigil went down with an injury, the ability for the linebackers to cover either a running back or a tight end, has seemingly disappeared.  Vontaze Burfict is a shell of his former self, Preston Brown has been hampered by injury and is slow of foot, while Hardy Nickerson Jr. may not be able to cover me coming out of the backfield.  The pass rush has also been very inconsistent.  While the Bengals had six sacks versus Tampa Bay, they registered exactly ONE hit on Ben Roethlisberger, in 40+ drop backs.  That is not going to cut it.  Teryl Austin’s unit has looked abysmal.  Hopefully the bye week has provided time for reflection, healing, and better game planning – for all of our sakes.

THE UGLY

 Injuries  – The Bengals escaped the preseason relatively healthy.  All of the offensive weapons  Andy Dalton  could have asked for, where at his finger tips.  After eight games, that arsenal has turned into a MASH unit.  Super star tight end, Tyler Eifert, has been lost for the year.  So has backup Mason Schreck.  Other players lost for extended periods of time have included Joe Mixon, Giovanni Bernard, Tyler Kroft, Billy Price, and Ross.  That does not even take into account the latest breaking news – no pun intended.  AJ Green is going to see a specialist this week about his foot that he injured in the Tampa Bay game.  According to reports, AJ will miss a “couple of weeks,” at minimum, and is attempting to determine if surgery is necessary.  If there was one player this offense could ill-afford to lose, we all know his name is Adriel Jeremiah Green.

On defense, things have looked just as bleak.  Injuries to players such as Carl Lawson, Vigil, Darqueze Dennard, Ryan Glasgow, and Burfict, have decimated a once-proud defensive unit.  Lawson and Glasgow will not return this year, and Dennard has some mysterious (looks at notes) “sternoclavicular” injury that only a magic eight ball can truly tell when he will play – “ask again later.”

The second half of the season begins with a home game versus Drew Brees, and the vaunted New Orleans Saints.  After watching them take down the previously undefeated LA Rams, one can understand the overwhelming feeling of pessimism that has set in over Bengaldom.  Take heart though, my fellow supporters.  There are still games remaining versus the Browns (two of them), the Raiders, the Broncos, and the Ravens.  Winning at least four of these games puts our Bengals at 9-7, with a very legitimate shot at making the playoffs.  And once that happens, who knows… oh wait.  Never mind.  So… anyone got some insight on linebackers and tight ends in the 2019 draft class?

 

Follow me on twitter @AndreEdwards06

Andre is a life-long Bengals’ supporter. He, having lived through both the lean and respectable years of the franchise, is known for calling things squarely… occasionally appearing on the Rocky Boiman Show on 700 WLW, in the “SuperFan” segment. He sang the National Anthem for a Bengals’ game in 2016, so clearly, this qualifies him to write about them… right? He did not play in the NFL, he does not break down film like a master, and he sometimes goes off the deep-end with his Bengals’ passion. In other words, yep, he’s just like you! Check him out, and reach out anytime –he’d love to hear from you. He is a graduate of both Morehouse College and Ohio University.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Three-Wide Set, All My Bengals

Jeffery Carr

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© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

There was a soap opera that was on television, when I was a kid, that I would see when I stayed home sick from school. Figured the title fits what has happened with the Bengals the last few days, so I tweaked it for this week’s three-wide set, what’d you think?

  1. Teryl Austin out, Marvin Lewis in…again.So the most obvious move, ever, happened Monday with the separation of the Bengals and their defunct defensive director. Austin seemed like a good guy, and all, but his defense was horrendous. In case you’ve lived under a rock and are just now delving into the Bengals 2018 season, they are last in all the NFL in yards allowed. Somehow, they are not last, but second to last in points allowed. In fact, as Jay Morrison remarked on Twitter, the Bengals are 11th in points scored this season, but 28th in point differential. That’s how bad this defense has been. One more oh wow moment with bad defense is I am pretty sure, without looking, that the last two Bengals opponents haven’t punted. (Checks stats) Ok, they forced two punts in the Buccaneers game. That being said, opposing offenses had converted over 50% of their third down attempts against the Cincinnati defense. That’s not great. Oh, and one more, one more, oh wow moment: the Bengals became the first team in NFL history to allow 500+ yards in three-straight games…okay, I am done.
    Enter Marvin to “fix” the defense. Not sure it can be done, at this point, but to be real, it can’t get worse. Like, when you’re last, you can’t be more last. Just like if you’re dead, you can’t die again. Yet, somehow, with the worst defense in the league, the Bengals are not dead.  Lewis can schematically fix the defense (which doesn’t help the tackling) and may be able to up the ante on the pass rush, as this defense has been the most passive I’ve seen since Marvin came aboard, but will it be enough? If they pull out a win this Sunday in Baltimore, it will put them in a nice spot for the 2nd wild card spot, if they don’t get it together and lose to Baltimore then the three-wide set might start looking at three draft prospects for the Bengals, each week.
  1. Hue Jackson is back, again again. Welcome back home Mike Brown’s favorite son not named Marvin. The prodigal son returns as he, once again, tried to take his inheritance and go off to another team to make a name for himself, only to find himself, yet again, an assistant on the Bengals coaching staff. This time it’s very Dwight Schrute-esque as he is the “Special Assistant to the Head Coach.” Read that, “assistant to the head coach,” not “assistant head coach.” Here’s hoping Bill Lazor puts his stapler in jello.
    I really do not know how to feel. The “in the moment” side of me likes it for the simple fact he can provide inside info on the Browns, who the Bengals haven’t played, and he might be able to help out a now double-duty Marvin. But the “big picture” side of me hates this. Now it gives a reason for Mike Brown to let go of Marvin Lewis, after his contract expires, and seamlessly transition to another coach he likes. Brown now doesn’t have to go through the necessary, desperately needed painful process of interviewing new coaches who could possibly provide fresh-thinking to a team that desperately needs it. Instead he can hand over the keys to the coach’s office, without any hullabaloo, to a man who does not deserve it (objectively) but, rather, is someone who Mike Brown sees as a son. Ugh…
  1. John Ross scored! That’s right, much congratulations to the man who has endured a lot of criticism, a lot of vitriol, a lot of unnecessary hate…I am talking, of course, about our fearless podcast host, James Rapien. I thought Ross looked good, I thought Andy was bad. JR15 was getting separation, making some guys miss on their coverage…and the ball fell short. Dalton underthrew him. What was the joke when Ross was drafted? “Great, now we can have the fastest dude in the NFL for Andy to still overthrow.” Well, he wasn’t overthrown, he was underthrown. Seriously, there was a tweet, can’t remember who (probably Joe Goodberry), that showed all of John Ross’ targets. The ones he didn’t catch, were bad throws. Plain and simple. Those who criticize Ross are not looking at the whole picture. I think he gets better and I think Andy can build a rapport with him, maybe even this week at Baltimore. Point is, fans and haters, John Ross is going to be just fine.

This is the biggest game of the year, this Sunday, at M&T Bank stadium. Last year, the Bengals knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs there. Will the Ravens get revenge? Or will the Bengals continue their recent dominance over the Ravens (eight wins in the last 10 games)? Stay tuned!

Follow @jefffcarr and @lockedonBengals for more Cincinnati professional football content

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Cincinnati Bengals

Reacting to Austin’s firing and our film review with Joe Goodberry

James Rapien

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I discuss the Bengals firing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Marvin Lewis taking over for him, plus Joe Goodberry joins me for our weekly film review. We talk about the Bengals’ 51-14 loss to the Saints, what can be fixed on defense, their issues on offense and more. Listen and subscribe to the podcast below.

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Cincinnati Bengals

The Saints march all over the Bengals 51-14

James Rapien

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The Saints dismantled the Bengals 51-14 on Sunday afternoon. Cincinnati falls to 5-4 and continues to struggle following a 4-1 start to the season. I recapped them game, discussed the defensive struggles, plus hear from Drew Brees, John Ross and I respond to your voicemails on a postgame edition of the Locked on Bengals podcast. Listen and subscribe below.

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