Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called the firing of offensive coordinator “a step” aimed at fixing the problems inherent in an offense that could not reach the end zone in the first two games.
But, Lewis also made it clear that no one on the team should consider their jobs safe – offense, defense and special teams alike. “And the next time, look around, and there will be different guys sitting there.”
Three games into a disappointing season, and with nothing to show for it, maybe it is time to start looking around. And maybe it is time for some to make some more of those changes Lewis alluded to.
On the defensive side of the ball, both of the Bengals’ starting cornerbacks had terrible outings against the Packers on Sunday. Adam Jones, who received an overall grade of 41.1 from Pro Football Focus, was beaten continually by Geronimo Allison, a second-year receiver who was filling in for the injured Randall Cobb.
Jones let Allison get behind him on the 72-yard reception that led to the winning field goal for the Packers in overtime.
Jones was not much better in Week 2 against Houston, when he finished with an overall grade of 63.8, including a 59.3 coverage grade.
Dre Kirkpatrick did not fare much better. Against Green Bay, Kirkpatrick allowed a near-perfect passer rating of 152.1 against him, the fifth worse showing by any defensive back in the league. He allowed six of eight passes thrown against him to be completed for 92 yards and two touchdowns. His overall grade of 35.3 was 87th out of 93 cornerbacks who were graded CBs.
But, it was not all bad news for the Bengals as their other cornerbacks received top marks against one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers. Darqueze Dennard led the defense with a grade of 84.9 and William Jackson, III, who returned an interception for a touchdown, only the second pick-six of Rodgers’ illustrious career, finished with a grade of 83.4.
So it would seem only fitting that maybe it is time for Jones and Kirkpatrick to take a seat, and allow Dennard and Jackson to take on the starting roles against the Browns. Going strictly by production, that is the result that would be called for.
Another change that almost certainly needs to occur deals with starting left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. Ogbuehi earned an overall grade of 36.7 from PFF and was the lowest-rated Bengal along the offensive line in Week 1, allowing two of the five sacks. Meanwhile, Ogbuehi’s backup, Andre Smith, received an above-average grade of 76.8 while filling in for Ogbuehi in limited snaps.
Smith was brought back by the Bengals on a one-year deal to fill the right guard spot vacated by Kevin Zeitler, but seems much more at home in his more familiar tackle role. And Smith does not seem to have missed a beat in the switch from right to left tackle.
And lest we forget about Russell Bodine, who is still one of the NFL’s worst starting centers. In fact, PFF ranks Bodine 32nd among 35 eligible centers entering Week 4. The fact that he continues to keep his job unchallenged is sad, and it’s part of why this team is 0-3.
Finally, Joe Mixon was given the lion’s share of the work on Sunday, and he responded with a workmanlike 62 yards on 18 carries. He also contributed three receptions for 39 yards. Jeremy Hill, on the other hand, had only seven carries for 23 yards. Giovani Bernard continues to be an effective change-of-pace back and added 27 yards on only three carries.
Clearly, it is time to move away from Hill and give Mixon the reins as he tries to put them on their back and help the Bengals turn things around, hoping to salvage a season that most people have already given up for lost.
What changes are you hoping to see made?