“I mean, I don’t really know what happened.”
This comment from rookie defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow is a shared sentiment among everyone keeping tabs on the Cincinnati Bengals. A Chicago Bears team on a five game losing streak came into Paul Brown Stadium and blew out a Bengals team that was right in the middle of the playoff race just one week ago. Coming into Sunday, Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky had only thrown for more than 200 yards once all season, and promptly threw for over 270 yards and a 112.4 rating. Chicago ran for 232 yards on the ground, which was the most the Bengals had given up since a blowout loss to the Jets to end the 2009 regular season.
In short, this was a historic loss for Cincinnati and perhaps one that fans will look back on in the future as the true signature loss that marked the end of the Marvin Lewis era—if it comes to that. Offensively and defensively the team looked unenthused and careless. ESPN’s Katherine Terrell remarked that there were very few positives to take away from a game like this:
“The only bright spots of the day were the play of running back Giovani Bernard and cornerback William Jackson III, two players who saw the field sporadically earlier in the season in favor of other starters.”
And it’s true that William Jackson played well, and in fact has played well all year (save for the lack off effort on a particular allowed touchdown last week). Pro Football Focus crunched the numbers and showed that Jackson has been one of the most productive corners all season, despite really not being used as much as he should be.
Lowest passer rating allowed in 2017 among CBs:— Ryan Smith (@PFF_Smith) December 11, 2017
1. A.J. Bouye - 26.0
2. William Jackson - 41.6
3. Marshon Lattimore - 45.3
4. Jimmy Smith - 49.2
For those other than Jackson and Bernard there were no excuses. A.J. Green called the performance “definitely embarrassing,” and in talking to the Cincinnati Enquirer, veteran defensive end Michael Johnson didn’t mince words when talking about how disappointing and unacceptable the loss was.
“We’re NFL players. We’re here because we have ability to be here. It doesn’t matter who’s out there. We’ve got to all play together, we have to stick together, all fit where we’re supposed to fit and tear off blocks and make the plays we’re supposed to make. And when we’re not doing that we’re putting ourselves in a tough position. And that’s what we did today. We’ve got to come back, got to look at the tape, be critical and just be learn from today. It’s a loss. It’s a stain on our record. We’ve got to learn from it and be better going forward.”
The players, ya know, the guys on the field, definitely deserve their portion of the blame. But there’s also a considerable amount of blame that needs to be placed on the head coach, as it seems that Marvin Lewis now more than ever has lost his team. Paul Dehner Jr. of the Enquirer opened the discussion of where the Bengals go from here, especially if parting ways with Marvin Lewis. Dehner doesn’t foresee a situation where Lewis is “fired” on the horizon, even if tensions are high:
“It’s hard to see a scenario where Lewis gets fired. He has accomplished much here, his working quasi-friendship with Brown is too substantial. I think the chance is better for a “mutual parting of ways.’’ Hopefully it will go smoother than the Christmas Eve departure of Sam Wyche all those years ago.”
Where do the Bengals go from here? Honestly, who knows? This team has never been one for rationality and all we can do is wait and see. To end here’s some other premium tweets about the fallout from Sunday:
"For the first time in a while, I'm watching a football team that has quit."-Lap#Bengals— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) December 10, 2017
The Bengals are honoring Corey Dillon by playing like they did in the 90’s.— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) December 10, 2017
If you're watching RedZone today you probably don't even know the Bengals and Bears are playing, I can assure you they're at least trying— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) December 10, 2017
The #Bengals are playing so bad that Marvin Lewis is probably going to get a contract extension.— Robert Flores (@RoFlo) December 10, 2017
The Bengals are a flat out embarrassment. An NFL team should never look this disinterested in playing football. Burn it all down.— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) December 10, 2017