I have no idea what the Cincinnati Bengals are trying to do anymore.
Are they trying to win football games, climb the ladder for an improved slot in the NFL draft, or are they secretly building a narrative requiring the dismissal/promotion of Marvin Lewis, allowing Hue Jackson to slide in as the next head coach? Yes. No. God forbid.
Still, I have no idea what the Bengals are trying to do anymore.
Despite Jeff Driskel’s best efforts at mounting a second-half comeback, the Bengals were embarrassingly destroyed by the Cleveland Browns... in a game that took place at Paul Brown Stadium. Cleveland, leading 28-7 at halftime, generated 296 yards in the first half. They didn’t even bother trying in the second half, knowing the dysfunctional Bengals would fold like broken lawn chairs. That’s right. Cincinnati hosted Cleveland, where the Browns sent laughable shockwaves across the league.
Cincinnati... a playoff contender? No. They are not a good team. Will the Bengals even win another game this season?
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Friends, readers and followers, saturated their collective fandom with an optimistic belief that an easy schedule could mitigate the damage caused by Kansas City and New Orleans. Baltimore, Cleveland (twice), Denver, Oakland, are winnable games, they said.
Unfortunately, the Bengals already lost to Baltimore and Cleveland, division games that pose significant challenges for believers envisioning a postseason run. Sorry, Charlie. It ain’t happening.
The Bengals are an embarrassment. It’s not because they’ve lost three straight and five of their last six. Everyone struggles. Everyone loses. The embarrassment is how they’re losing. Ever since their demoralizing loss against Steelers and confidence-shattering blowout against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Bengals have largely been outplayed, outmuscled, outclassed, and out-coached. When Cleveland took a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter, you thought... of course.
You weren’t surprised.
You may have laughed.
What are the Bengals trying to do?
Are they trying to establish the run? Will they ever find creativity to expand the passing game under Bill Lazor, with their prodigy rookie center wildly snapping the football... such a disaster that it led to a potential hand injury to their starting quarterback? When your primary receiver is down, you need others to step in. None have.
It’s worse on defense. Much worse. The $45 million combination between Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap is a reasonable investment, but its left much to be desired in recent weeks. They’re not taking games over or impacting scenarios, especially since their explosive win against Miami. Cincinnati’s linebackers are ineffective. Slow. Defensive backs are often out of position, overmatched, or overworked. I don’t even blame them.
Seriously. What are the Bengals trying to do?
It’s the same commentary we’re preached since their beautiful flaws were exposed against Kansas City. Defensive struggles continue, allowing the Browns to score 35 points by the third quarter. Andy Dalton’s offense is incapable of maintaining that pace, largely because their primary weapon in A.J. Green is hurt. However, Joe Mixon is often underutilized; Giovani Bernard more so; John Ross only scores touchdowns and not much else; Tyler Boyd is triple-teamed. There is no Tyler Eifert, though C.J. Uzomah has been a warrior.
Then there’s the head-scratching moments.
Like when the Bengals sent Randy Bullock on for a 54-yard field goal attempt, despite converting one of three 50-yard attempts this season; his longest conversion with the Bengals is 51 yards. Or Lewis attempting to challenge a spot on a fourth down conversion with four minutes remaining in the second quarter. Running back Nick Cubb clearly converted the fourth-and-one; Lewis challenged anyway.
I’m not sure what the Bengals are trying to do at this point. The offense has no identity and often appears in disarray. The defense can’t stop anyone.
The truth is... Cincinnati is done.