Another week, another disaster for the Cincinnati Bengals.
While the effort didn’t seem to be there last week, the “performance” against the Vikings was deplorable.
Some believe that the news about the team’s coaching situation may have something to do with it, but if that’s the case, very few Bengals have put enough on tape to impress a potential new coach.
Here are Cincinnati’s winners and losers from the team’s loss to the Vikings.
Geno Atkins: A lot of Bengals players have visibly given up on the season, with many of them being high-priced starters. However, the best player on the Bengals’ defense hasn’t packed it in just yet.
Atkins, in a bid for his sixth Pro Bowl berth in eight seasons, had garnered two sacks and another tackle for loss against Minnesota. In such a lopsided loss, No. 97 was the lone standout.
Name a Bengals coach: Given the news about Marvin Lewis that surfaced on Sunday, one would be inclined to think that this week’s contest against the Vikings would be a job interview of sorts. There has been talk of potential internal promotions for Paul Guenther and Darrin Simmons, but if that is truly in consideration, this Week 15 debacle has to give the Brown family pause.
Guenther’s defensive unit, albeit a banged-up one, gave up 24 first half points and, for the second consecutive week, seemed totally disinterested in stopping anybody. Bill Lazor, likely coaching to keep his offensive coordinator job for 2018, oversaw a unit that didn’t net a first down until a few minutes into the second quarter, while also getting blanked at the halftime gun.
Simmons’ unit didn’t give anything inspiring on Sunday, while long-tenured offensive line coach Paul Alexander’s unit was downright awful. And, if you’re Marvin Lewis, the lack of effort is a direct indictment of your coaching prowess and possible news of stepping down after this season.
If you bought into Marvin’s talk of the team still playing with effort after last week, perhaps this embarrassment would have told you otherwise.
Andy Dalton: In back-to-back seasons with single-digit wins, no position should be off of the table for potential improvement. The Bengals’ quarterback since 2011 has set numerous franchise records, but his glaring weaknesses have been apparent the past two seasons.
Without a quality coordinator and the loss of so many weapons on the periphery and on the line, Dalton is a shell of himself from the MVP-like campaign of 2015. Yes, he had a nice interception-less streak in the middle of this season, but beginning of this year and these past two weeks have called the quarterback position into question.
Dalton should especially be worried about his job security if Lewis is indeed leaving, especially with his contract structure.
Look, it isn’t all of No. 14’s fault. His offensive line has been atrocious and the running game was non-existent. But, unfortunately for the Bengals and for Dalton, the past two years have shown the need for a transcendent quarterback. Yet, in what could have been one of his swan songs, Dalton finished 11-of-22 for 113 yards and two interceptions against Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Vincent Rey: As a former coach myself, I love having a guy like Rey on my team. However, he’s a guy who, in the NFL, should only be relegated to emergency backup duty special teams duties.
This was no more apparent than what he displayed on Sunday against the Vikings. As usual, Rey was a step behind on completions, one of which was to tight end Kyle Rudolph, while also relenting a penalty on Jerick McKinnon to extend a drive which led to a touchdown. Unfortunately, despite his struggles, Rey got injured adding to an already decimated linebacker group and we hope he ends up being okay.
Offensive line: Given this beleaguered unit’s (lack of) reputation over the past couple of years, we knew what to expect against the No. 3-ranked Vikings defense. Still, Dalton was harassed, while Giovani Bernard had around a two-yard per carry average on the day, even though he had a touchdown run.
Aside from predictable play-calling from Lazor and questionable effort from the entire unit, this group has to be largely called into question. Aside from Clint Boling, there shouldn’t be a position on the line that shouldn’t be reassessed this offseason.