A promising start for the Bengals has dissolved into another miserable season.
While the most competitive teams are finding creative ways to use their best player, the Bengals are wasting the prime and years of their young players. Here are some of the players they are underutilizing and players on other NFL teams who the Bengals should use them like.
Joe Mixon - Alvin Kamara - New Orleans Saints
Mixon has averaged 15.4 carries per game this season which is two more than Kamara. The Saints, however, use Kamara as an integral part of their pass game. They target him seven times per game, whereas the Bengals target Mixon only 4.2 times per game.
Mixon is an excellent receiver, They should use him as a wide receiver and in the screen game, but these are not pillars of their offense. Mixon is capable of having as big of an impact as Kamara has on his offense. The Bengals need to get him the ball in the pass game. (I am not going to beat this one to death, as I wrote a marathon of an article earlier in the year on all the ways the Bengals should be using Mixon).
Giovani Bernard - Tarik Cohen - Chicago Bears
Speaking of players the Bengals need to get the ball to in the pass game, the Bengals do not use Bernard correctly either. Playing in eight games, he has only had more than six carries in two of them, and he has had two carries or less in four games.
Bernard is known as their passing down back, but they don’t even use him properly in that role. He only has 4.6 targets per game. He is basically there to pass block and catch screen passes in really obvious screen situations. Bernard and Mixon don’t take the field together with one lining up at receiver, despite the fact that they are both skilled receivers.
Some would point to Bernard’s size as a reason he can only be used in certain ways, but Cohen is three inches shorter and 24 pounds lighter. The Bears use Cohen extensively in the pass game. He averages over six carries and over six targets per game. It is not just the volume, they also put Cohen in positions to make big plays.
For example, they love to wheel him out of the backfield and throw him deep balls. The Bengals should look to the capitalize on Bernard’s talent by using him more like the Bears use Cohen, and not in the outdated way they try to use him.
John Ross - Tyreek Hill - Kansas City Chiefs
No, he’s not a bust. He hasn’t even had the opportunity to be a bust. Ross is the fastest man in the history of the NFL combine, and the Bengals refuse to create opportunities for him to touch the ball.
Sending Hill deep to “stretch the defense” is a method of using his talents, but it shouldn’t be the only one. The Chiefs get Hill the ball on short passes and allow him to use his speed with the ball in his hands, throw him screens, and even have given him 15 carries this season.
The Bengals did a good job using A.J. Green in the slot this season and have used Tyler Boyd effectively as well. If they would have gotten Ross the ball in position to make plays, they could have had a far more explosive passing game.
Carl Lawson - Bradley Chubb - Denver Broncos
I wrote an article in the summer after Marvin Lewis said “more was less” for Lawson. Despite Lewis’ statement, nobody believed me when I said that Lawson’s role would not increase in season two.
Well, it didn’t. Lawson played over 50 percent of the Bengals defensive snaps in only two games before getting hurt. Broncos rookie Bradley Chubb played in less than 70 percent of Broncos snaps only once this season, and he has 10 sacks and counting. Lawson was a stud pass rusher as a rookie, but he only had one sack before getting injured this season. Lawson needed more opportunities to get to the quarterback.
Jeff Driskel - Taysom Hill - New Orleans Saints
Sean Payton is one of the best coaches in the league, but taking the ball out of Drew Brees’ hands does not make a lot of sense. However, taking the ball out of Andy Dalton’s hands is perfectly acceptable.
Driskel showed has shown he can do some things athletically. Using the talents of their backup quarterback would be a very progressive and creative way for the Bengals to help their offense, which is of course why they would probably never think of it.
The Bengals have a lot of talent, but do a poor job of using it. If they are ever going to compete with the best teams in the league, they need to make better use of that they have.
That is what the league’s top teams do.