It was a long five weeks for the Cincinnati Bengals, and maybe a bye is what they needed. The team started 0-3, and all the talk was about how little of a chance the Bengals had at getting to the postseason. The team then won two games, and they remain in the hunt for the division title with a game against the Steelers this week.
Before we get to that, let’s hand out more awards for the Bengals so far during this season.
The Bengals are 2-3, so it is understandable that a few players who are having impacts are getting overlooked. Here is the Unsung Hero for the Bengals so far as well as a few honorable mentions:
Giovani Bernard: Bernard seems to be the least talked about running back in the Cincinnati backfield. People are either talking about trading Jeremy Hill or how much they want to see Joe Mixon in the feature role. Bernard has quietly succeeded this season on offense.
During Week 1 Bernard was perhaps the only bright spot for the Bengals during a terrible game. He had 79 yards on eight touches, and with Bill Lazor calling plays he has been successful as the second back behind Mixon.
On the season Bernard averages 4.6 yards a run and 16.4 yards per catch. Both are the most of any Bengal. He also has caught two touchdowns this season. One being the 62-yard touchdown before the half against Cleveland that changed the entire game.
Bernard doesn’t get many touches, but he makes the most of the touches he gets.
Nick Vigil: Vigil had a tall task coming into his second season. Vontaze Burfict would miss the first three games, and Vincent Rey would be his running mate at linebacker. The Bengals’ defense as a whole stepped up, but Vigil has been a huge part of the team’s success.
Vigil leads the team with 43 tackles. He also has an interception and a sack this season. The Bengals’ defense is extremely young, and several of those players have been receiving plenty of hype. Still, Vigil has been very underrated most of the season. If he keeps playing this way it will be very hard to ignore him.
Darqueze Dennard: Dennard probably had the most pressure on him coming into the season. He had hardly played for the Bengals due to injuries early in his career and coaches choosing to play veterans over him.
He had a rough start to the season. He gave up a huge touchdown play against the Ravens. He dropped an easy pick-six against the Texans, and he failed to wrap up Deshaun Watson on his long touchdown run.
Since then he has played very well. He is second on the team in tackles, and he has been great making tackles in the open field. He is second on the team in tackles, and he has two sacks this season.
Unfortunately, Dennard hasn’t recorded an interception this season, which gets the most attention for defensive backs among fans. Fans have also seemed to be more focused on William Jackson, who is finally playing after missing all of last season due to injury.
Pro Football Focus has noticed him though, and they have rated him very highly this season. He has finished among the best of the Bengals’ defenders so far this season.
Top Bengals wk 1-5:— PFF CIN Bengals (@pff_cincinnati) October 11, 2017
DT G. Atkins-88.9
WR AJ Green-86.4
LB V. Burfict-84.3
ED C. Lawson-83.7
CB D. Denard-82.2
Out of all those names, Dennard’s is easily the most surprising, but it may become normal if he can keep this pace up.