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NFL Week 9 Bengals at Jaguars: The good, the bad and the ugly

Spoiler alert: there is a lot of “bad” and “ugly” after the Bengals’ 23-7 loss.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

What a disaster. After feeling pretty good about their playoff positioning from their win over the Colts, the Bengals failed to show up in any way against the Jaguars. Given this performance, it’s hard to believe that Cincinnati is a true playoff contender unless they somehow completely turn things around.

Here are the best and worst from the Bengals’ 23-7 loss to the Jaguars on Sunday.

The good:

Chris Smith and Carl Lawson: These two offseason additions have been great ones for Cincinnati. Smith had a little extra fuel this week, as he was going up against his former team and made his mark early with a forced fumble on T.J. Yeldon. Unfortunately, the Bengals’ offense didn’t take advantage.

Meanwhile, Lawson continued to make the most of his snaps by pressuring Bortles twice. Why did Michael Johnson get 56 snaps to Lawson’s 17, again?

The bad:

Tackling and the defense’s inability to get off of the field: Did it seem like Jacksonville hogged the football all day long? Well, they did, thanks to a 12-of-18 success rate on third down. On top of that, the usually-strong Bengals’ defense missed multiple tackles—particularly behind the line of scrimmage—and failed to bring Blake Bortles down all afternoon.

To put things more clearly, Jacksonville ran a ridiculous 78 plays on offense against Paul Guenther’s unit. Credit is due to the Jaguars who took advantage of everything the Bengals allowed, but this had to be one of the worst overall performances by a Bengals defense under Marvin Lewis.

Bill Lazor, Andy Dalton and the offense: Yes, the onus largely falls on the offensive line (more on that in a minute), and yes, Dalton is not a transcendent quarterback even though the Bengals treated him as such, given their allowance of so many weapons to leave over the past two offseasons. Still, because of the constant pressure, Dalton is now sensing phantom problems and we saw him misfire on an open deep ball to A.J. Green early in the contest.

Lazor isn’t doing him any favors, either, though. Aside from the terrible play up front, Sunday showed an incredibly predictable play-calling scheme. Any time Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon touched the football they were swarmed and the short-yardage passing scheme did nothing to scare the Jaguars once Green was ejected.

To put things further in perspective, in terms of the offensive struggles, the Bengals ran 37 plays for a net of 148 yards. Yikes.

Disappointments in passing defense: This kind of plays into the above-mentioned issues getting off of the field, but many other individuals need to be pointed out for poor play against Bortles. Tight ends once again gashed the defense, with Marcedes Lewis grabbing three catches for 49 yards and also ran free on what would have been a big, wide-open touchdown, if the ball wasn’t overthrown.

Clayton Fejedelem, Dre Kirkpatrick, Adam Jones and Nick Vigil were often the victims of those 12 Jacksonville third down conversions, while Shawn Williams dropped an easy interception that led to a Jaguars field goal. Since the front generated minimal pressure, the back end of the defense needed to step up, but completely flopped.

Officiating: Obviously, those in A.J. Green’s corner believe that Jalen Ramsey should have been ejected, but many in the national lens didn’t agree. There was also a ridiculous pass interference penalty on Kirkpatrick and a non-call on a facemask on Dalton were also frustrating on a day that the yellow flags seemed omnipresent.

The ugly:

The fight: Yes, it appears that Jalen Ramsey is indeed a trash bag when it comes to running his mouth to opposing players. It’s also understandable that Bengals players might be reaching a boiling point because of the continued lack of success and poor results that have been witnessed since the 2015 Wild Card loss.

Still, when level-headed A.J. Green flies off of the handle, you know things are going poorly. In addition to seeing Green wig out, usual suspects Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones tried to get on the field and join the scrum. Maybe we’re looking too far into body language at this point, but Green wrangling away form Marvin Lewis’ grip while he attempted to corral him isn’t a good sign.

Coaching decisions: Going into the weekend, the Bengals made the questionable decision of letting go of Derron Smith to make room for kicker Marshall Koehn. Well, Clayton Fejedelem whiffed on a couple of big tackles, after he was pressed into service because of a Shawn Williams injury.

On offense, the Bengals are lacking explosion, but the staff still felt Cody Core was a more important activation for special teams purposes over John Ross’s ability to stretch the field. Well, the offense scored one touchdown and the punt coverage team let up a return for a touchdown on Sunday. Did we mention that Lewis let precious seconds tick away before the half, handicapping the Bengals’ offense, which ultimately set the fight in motion on a worthless run play?

Hindsight is always 20/20 in a loss, but some decisions we are seeing are absolutely baffling. Maybe with the season out of control, we’ll see more Ross and potentially guys like Christian Westerman and J.J. Dielman.

The offensive line: What a dumpster fire. The unit came just under what seems to be their weekly average of sacks given up with two against Jacksonville, but Andy Dalton was harassed all afternoon.

Russell Bodine, Cedric Ogbuehi and Andre Smith all played at a 1990s-Bengals level, which is saying quite a bit about the play up front. Furthermore, Ogbuehi was on film getting massively beaten and then let his quarterback lay on the ground after his epic fail.