Even in a winless season for the Bengals, Tyler Boyd’s individual performance has validated the franchise’s decision to extend him for four more years in the offseason. That extension was primarily based on his 2018 season when he helped carry an offense without A.J. Green.
So it was a surprise to see the Bengals nearly win their first game of the season and Boyd have practically no role in it. He finished Sunday’s bout against the Raiders with just one reception and zero yards on three targets and 37 routes run.
This was the 16th consecutive game where Boyd has had to play without Green didn’t share the field, but it was the first time he put up a goose egg in the yards column, a fact that he did not take kindly to after the game.
“I feel like I’m the go-to guy with A.J. down,” Boyd told ESPN’s Bengals reporter Ben Baby. “I felt like [my] targets were not where they should have been. I feel that I’m a game-changer and I could have utilized my talents in any way to move the chains and nothing was coming my way.”
For anyone that’s followed his career, they know that Boyd has never lacked bravado regarding his game. Wide receivers are often the players pegged as so-called “divas” because of the impact that they can make on the field and the fact that they ultimately can’t control when they can make that impact.
And that’s all it is for Boyd: nut just putting up numbers, but making an impact.
“I don’t feel like that’s an achievement that they should give me,” Boyd said. “It’s really not about stats. It’s about me wanting to make plays, wanting them to trust me, wanting them to throw me the ball so I can help get a win.
”I mean, I just feel like what’s understood doesn’t need to be explained,” Boyd continued. “I’m not the type of player that’s going to go and tell them to throw me the ball, force me the ball and get it done, regardless if that’s what’s going in my mind. But I know they see it and I know that they know I’m a reliable guy.”
This was the second game where Boyd and the offense were lead by rookie quarterback Ryan Finley. For Finley to have established chemistry with all of his receivers this early on is an unfair ask, but missed opportunities are missed opportunities. When an offense’s best pass-catcher disappears for an entire game against one of the worst aerial defenses, it’s probably not all on him.
“The way I’m playing, the level that I bring, I believe I get open in any 1-on-1 coverage across the board against anyone,” Boyd said. “All you gotta do is just read the defense. If he sees he has me, just gotta put it there and I’m going to make a play for him.”
In retrospect, head coach Zac Taylor would probably agree with the fourth-year receiver. When asked about the offense’s startling lack of Boyd on Sunday, he provided an honest answer.
“He’s certainly one of our best players, so we need to get him more involved.” Taylor said in his press conference on Monday. “As you walk away from that game, you’d like to get Tyler more involved.”
The Tyler in question is just the latest example of a talented Bengals player underutilized in a disappointing offensive showing. The other Tyler, Tyler Eifert, has had under 30 receiving yards in every game but one this year. Running backs Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard have a combined 306 receiving yards on 56 combined targets, and neither one of them have had success running the ball up until recently.
Boyd’s frustration is understandable, but certainly not unique when it comes to the 2019 Bengals.