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Orange and Black Insider podcast: Bengals’ biggest surprises so far

The Orange and Black podcast tackles the biggest positive and negative surprises for the Bengals’ young season.

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Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Dre Kirkpatrick is doing well in a contract year
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

The Bengals’ season is still relatively young, but we have seen plenty of surprises so far. A 1-2 record is something of a surprise for a team coming off a 12-4 record and an AFC North title. On the Orange and Black Insider this week, we spent a few minutes discussing the Bengals’ biggest positive and negative surprises for their 2016 season so far.

Do you have additional surprises that we missed? Please share them with us.

Cincinnati Bengals v New York Jets
Mike Nugent is having his best season as a Bengal.
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Biggest Positive Surprise:

Dre Kirkpatrick is using his physical tools to turn into a very good corner this year. He has only given up one touchdown this year in three games played.

Mike Nugent has now made 12/13 field goals and 6 extra points.Nugent’s current rate of 92.3 percent is better than any of his previous six seasons with the Bengals, if he can keep it up.

Margus Hunt and Will Clarke have stepped up as backups, especially Hunt’s blocked kicks.

The Rushing defense has played well of late. They are only one of two NFL teams who have given up zero rushing touchdowns. They also held DeAngelo Williams and C.J. Anderson to a total of 131 rush yards on only 2.8 yards per carry.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers
Bengals’ return game has unimpressed this season
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Biggest Disappointment:

The Bengals lack of pass protection. The Bengals have given up 13 sacks in four games, which puts them on pace for 52 allowed. They had only given up 41 sacks over the last two years combined. Dalton is getting sacked on almost 10 percent of passes.

Shawn Williams is not living up to his contract extension. He has a pair of dropped interceptions already, and seems to play out of position, giving up passing plays.

Most Unexpected Oddity:

Most fans were pretty excited when the team made a commitment to move on from Brandon Tate as their punt and kick returner. After four weeks, has the grass been greener without Tate?

Before Week 4, Alex Erickson and Adam Jones were averaging 6.3 yards per punt return. Last season, Brandon Tate also averaged 6.3 yards per return. Apparently 6.3 yards per punt return seems to be in the Bengals’ DNA. So much for drastic improvement.

This year the Bengals have used Rex Burkhead, Adam Jones, and Alex Erickson on kickoff returns. Burkhead has the highest average at 20.0 yards per return. Prior to Week 4, Jones was averaging 17.5, while Erickson has the lowest average at 15.0 yards per return. By contrast, Tate topped all three of them with a 22.9 return average last season. Not only are all three Bengals’ returners averaging below Tate’s production last year, but are doing worse than Tate has ever done. For what it’s worth, Tate is churning out 24.2 yards per return this year for the Bills.

You can listed to all of the segments, and full Orange and Black Insider episodes by searching for us on Soundcloud, YouTube, and iTunes. Have questions? You can contact us on Twitter with questions to be answered in future episodes of the podcast @BengalsOBI.

*Note: The podcast was recorded prior to Week 4.