After Monday night’s debacle against Pittsburgh, it was hard to imagine that things could get any worse for the hometown Bengals.
They could, and they did. Here is what I think I know about what is left of this team:
There is a very good chance that this 2017 version of the Cincinnati Bengals will not win another game this year, because they have absolutely no discipline. On the very first play of the game, Cincinnati was called for holding, and instead of starting at their own 32-yard line, the Bengals start at the 8-yard line.
Then, on the third play, a false start on Andre Smith moves them back five yards. And, when Cincinnati failed to move the ball and was forced to punt, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty allows the Bears to start at their own 49-yard-line, rather than the 34.
And Chicago literally walks down the field for one of the easiest touchdown the Bengals have surrendered in quite some time.
How do you describe the start of this one? Pathetic, uninspired, lackadaisical, unemotional, take your choice. Call it Steelers hangover, call it whatever you want, but good teams don’t do these kind of things. And, right now, Cincinnati is not very good.
Chicago gashed Cincinnati for 21 plays of 10 yards or more — 10 rushing and 11 passing. And the great majority of those big gains came right up the middle. Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was 25 for 32 for 271 yards and a touchdown, with most of his completions coming right back up the middle.
His overall rating? A Brady-esque 112.4.
Middle linebacker Kevin Minter decided to sign a one-year contract with the Bengals this year in the hopes that his play would earn him a long-term deal, either here or elsewhere.
How is that working out, Kevin?
Minter was the invisible man Sunday as the Bears consistently took advantage of the middle of the field, where Minter is supposed to patrol. Time after time, Chicago reeled off big plays right up the middle, whether it be runs or passes. As one of the commentators noted, it was like Minter “was running in quicksand.”
And it did not get any better. Chicago got the ball back with about 9:30 left in the first half and drove from their own 5-yard-line to the Cincinnati 9-yard line before the drive stalled with just under two minutes remaining. Of the 14 total plays the drive consumed, nearly half of them came over the middle.
And then, to add insult to injury, Minter is called for pass interference on the first play of the fourth quarter before getting beat by tight end Adam Shaheen on the touchdown.
Cincinnati was missing five starters on defense, including two of its starting linebackers in Vontaze Burfict and Nick Vigil. So, it was up to the offense to take the pressure off of the defense.
And the offense failed miserably.
With the exception of one drive that resulted in the Bengals’ only score of the first half, Cincinnati was unable to move the ball. The next three drives for the Bengals resulted in 23 yards. Andy Dalton, who since the addition of Bill Lazor as offensive coordinator after the second week of the season was the NFL’s fourth-rated quarterback, was terrible.
Dalton completed six of 14 passes in the first half for 57 yards and one touchdown, and an overall rating of 78.6. Dalton consistently missed on anything and everything downfield, and could not even manage to hook up on crossing routes over the middle. In the second quarter, Dalton was 0 for 4, and was sacked once.
After the touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell, Dalton went two of his next eight for six yards and one interception. He finished his afternoon completing 14 of 29 passes for 141 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and an overall rating of 59.7.
Only Giovani Bernard actually gave any kind of an effort at all with 60 yards on only nine carries.
What? Halftime adjustments? You’re talking about halftime adjustments? We’re lucky to win a game, let alone make halftime adjustments.
That is not exactly what Jim Mora said, but you get the idea.
The Bengals went three-and-out the first time they touched the ball in the second half, and a Dalton interception ended the second possession on the third play. Chicago, meanwhile, drove 76 yards in nine plays on its second possession of the half, and made it look easy.
Five more gash plays, and Chicago went up 19-7.
After the interception, Chicago tacked on two more gash plays on runs of 13 and 14 yards by Jordan Howard en route to a 26-7 advantage. Three more big plays pushed the advantage to 33-7 and put the game out of reach.
Bernard, by the way, who had 60 yards rushing in the first half, got two more yards in the second half. Cincinnati’s offense accounted for five first downs in the second half, two with A.J. McCarron under center.
My question for the Bengals now is whether there is still anyone on this team who cares? If there is, they sure did not play like it on Sunday. I do know that those of us who are still fans care, and the effort we saw against the Chicago Bears made us sick to our stomachs.
Most of us work for a living, and if we gave the kind of efforts at our jobs that most of these Bengals gave on Sunday, we would be out looking for a new job.
A.J. Green had one of the worst games of his career. Dalton’s lone interception came on a catchable ball that bounced off of his hands, and Green fumbled early in the fourth quarter when the Bengals tried to mount some sort of a comeback.
Give credit to Michael Johnson, who had both of the Cincinnati sacks and continued to play hard throughout. And Bernard gave good effort throughout. But that was about it.
Dave Latham, the voice of the Bengals on Bengals’ radio and as big of a fan as there is, called it like it was. “We’re watching a football team quit,” he said. “They are just not giving the effort, not giving any kind of resistance.”