Cincinnati didn’t do much right in any aspect of the game, as Sunday became unwatchable in the late stages of the fourth quarter.
Here are some winners and losers for the Bengals this week.
Chris Smith: Though Smith is a reserve player for the Bengals, he made an early impact against his former Jacksonville mates. He had a forced fumble of T.J. Yeldon in the first quarter and was a constant presence in the backfield when he was taking snaps.
Tyler Kroft: The Bengals had to scramble to find someone who resembled an adequate replacement for Tyler Eifert and Kroft has somewhat-unexpectedly stepped up in a big way. Though he only had two catches, he had 79 yards, including a great 59-yard catch to set up the Bengals’ only score of the day.
Name an offensive lineman: The tackles on the Bengals, to be polite, are terrible. Even Andre Smith, who brought a nice band-aid to the team for a few weeks, is showing his age and Cedric Ogbuehi is almost always overpowered.
Though he’s not a direct loser for his own play, Andy Dalton is paying for Cincinnati’s poor decision-making on the offensive line. The front office needs to be held accountable for free agency attrition, while Paul Alexander needs to be under the microscope for the lack of progress from Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher, Trey Hopkins, J.J. Dielman and Christian Westerman.
The secondary: When we looked at some of the big individual matchups this week, Dre Kirkpatrick on Marqise Lee was one of the clashes we were keeping an eye on in Jacksonville. Lee victimized Kirkpatrick throughout the first half, while also catching a touchdown pass against Adam Jones. He finished with eight catches for 75 yards and a score.
Meanwhile Shawn Williams dropped an easy interception, which allowed the Jaguars to kick a field goal and yet another tight end, Marcedes Lewis roamed free at multiple levels of the defense. You’d think they would have had a better day with Leonard Fournette on the sidelines, but that wasn’t really the case.
A.J. Green: You could tell that Green has been frustrated in recent weeks, whether it was in poorly thrown passes coming his way, the team losing (no coincidence there), but the almost-always cool Pro Bowler took much of it in stride until Sunday. From the get-go, Green and Jalen Ramsey were having a physical battle and it boiled over right before halftime.
One could argue Ramsey started the ensuing fracas by shoving Green to the ground, but the star receiver grabbed Ramsey by the neck, took him to the ground and started throwing punches. Both players ended up getting ejected for the final two quarters.
Marvin Lewis and his staff: When arguably your most level-headed player is tossed from the game for fighting and two other usual suspects—Jones and Vontaze Burfict—were seen trying to get on the field from the sideline during the tussle, one has to question the coach’s control of the team. But, that wasn’t the only omen of poor coaching.
Because of an injury to Randy Bullock, the Bengals were forced to sign Marshall Koehn for the game. Derron Smith was released and his replacement, Clayton Fejedelem, played poorly after Williams left the game with an injury. John Ross was also a healthy scratch, who might have been helpful to have with Green’s absence.
Paul Guenther’s defense was totally confused all afternoon, allowing a staggering 10-of-14 first down rate through the first three quarters. Meanwhile Bill Lazor’s offense, with or without Green, was borderline pathetic. In an important possession in the middle of the third quarter, the offense had three plays for a net of minus-15 yards.
Oh, let’s not forget special teams. Going into Sunday, the Jaguars were one of the worst teams in the league returning punts. Jaydon Mickens changed that narrative with a back-breaking punt return to hit the poor coaching trifecta.
Reminder: Lewis preferred to activate Cody Core because of his special teams prowess. The unit gave up a touchdown, while the offense only scored one touchdown. Side note: aren’t you sick of other teams getting “firsts” against the Bengals?