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Bengals Week 13 snap count takeaways: Excuses running dry for not playing the young guys

The Bengals have often leaned on their veteran players to the point of it being a liability, and that was the case again Sunday against the Broncos.

NFL: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

With four straight losses in the rear-view mirror, the Bengals need to recognize their season has shifted. At 5-7, their hopes of even claiming a Wild Card spot are mathematically bleak. That doesn’t even take into account that Andy Dalton is on injured reserve and A.J. Green is likely to join him after appearing to re-injure his foot early against the Broncos.

There is no longer any excuse for the Bengals not to give their rookies and younger players a shot at playing over their veteran counterparts. This is valuable playing time that they can learn from, and perhaps they’ll realize they might actually be better than the player in front of them. Cincinnati has looked like one of the worst teams in the NFL even with those veterans out there, they are essentially out of the playoff hunt and it is hard to imagine them looking any worse than they have been for the past four weeks,

Here are the snap count takeaways:

  • The Bengals actually out snapped the Broncos 68 to 59, but obviously it didn’t matter as the game never felt close. The Bengals constantly shot themselves in the foot with penalties, which didn’t help sustaining drives at all. 12 penalties for 100 yards isn’t how you’ll end up winning football games. The team also didn’t really let Jeff Driskel sling it downfield early. Meanwhile, the Broncos scored on a couple long plays, which helps skew the snaps.
  • Malik Jefferson needs playing time. It is ridiculous at this point that the team’s most athletic linebacker doesn’t even have a role on their awful defense. Nick Vigil (57) returned from injury and played most of the game. However, Vontaze Burfict (38) exited the game early with a concussion, and the team ended up replacing him with Hardy Nickerson (21), who did forced fumble soon after he came onto the field. At this point the Bengals know what they have in Nickerson, Burfict and Jordan Evans (25). Why do they refuse to take a look at what Jefferson could even offer them? All this is going to lead to is Jefferson being thrusted into a bigger role either next year or the year after with little to no in-game experience, and the coaching staff blaming his struggles on growing pains. We can just get that out of the way now.
  • Billy Price (68) is one of the few things the Bengals are doing that I can agree with. Many have pointed out his struggles against the Browns that led to some wild snaps, and penalties due to the ball being snapped too soon or late. Those same people think Price is probably destined to play guard, which may be true, but let’s at least see if he can grow into the center position the rest of this season. To be fair, I think the Bengals are doing this more out of stubbornness than actually thinking it through as they haven’t tried mixing things up on the offensive line all season unless there has been an injury.
  • There is no reason Joe Mixon should only be playing 39 snaps (59 percent) in a game that was still in reach until the second half. Mixon only touched the ball 14 times and ended up with 95 total yards, as Cincinnati’s refusal to ride him more without Green on the field continues to be bad business. Don’t worry though, Driskel only threw the ball 38 times.
  • Michael Johnson (36) doesn’t need to be playing more than Sam Hubbard (26) or Jordan Willis (21) the rest of the season. The two young players seem to be comparable in talent with a fraction of the experience, so letting them play to accumulate valuable experience would be the best for where they’re at now.

Bengals snap counts vs the Broncos Week 13

# POS. NAME Snaps Percentage of snaps
# POS. NAME Snaps Percentage of snaps
18 WR A.J. Green 17 25
83 WR Tyler Boyd 66 97
80 WR Josh Malone DNP DNP
15 WR John Ross 60 88
12 WR Alex Erickson 5 7
16 WR Cody Core 36 51
19 WR Auden Tate DNP DNP
77 OT Cordy Glenn DNP DNP
74 OT Jake Fisher DNP DNP
68 OT Bobby Hart 68 100
70 OT Cedric Ogbuehi DNP DNP
79 OT Christian Ringo --
65 OG Clint Boling 68 100
63 OG Christian Westerman -- --
62 OG Alex Redmond 68 100
66 OG Trey Hopkins 68 100
53 C Billy Price 68 100
87 TE C.J. Uzomah 67 100
88 TE Jordan Franks 7 10
89 TE Matt Lengel 15 22
5 QB Tom Savage -- --
6 QB Jeff Driskel 68 100
28 RB Joe Mixon 39 57
25 RB Giovani Bernard 28 41
32 RB Mark Walton 1 1
96 DE Caros Dunlap 43 73
94 DE Sam Hubbard 26 44
90 DE Michael Johnson 36 61
75 DE Jordan Willis 21 36
95 DE Kasim Edebali DNP DNP
97 DT Geno Atkins 45 76
99 DT Andrew Billings 44 75
69 DT Niles Scott 6 10
59 LB Nick Vigil 57 97
57 LB Vincent Rey -- --
56 LB Hardy Nickerson Jr. 21 36
50 LB Jordan Evans 25 42
45 LB Malik Jefferson -- --
55 LB Vontaze Burfict 38 64
51 LB Brandon Bell DNP DNP
27 CB Dre Kirkpatrick 57 97
21 CB Drarqueze Dennard 36 61
22 CB William Jackson 58 98
29 CB Tony McRae DNP DNP
23 CB Darius Phillips 2 3
20 CB KeiVarae Russell -- --
36 S Shawn Williams 58 98
42 S Clayton Fejedelem 1 2
30 S Jessie Bates III 59 100
40 S Brandon Wilson -- --