The Bengals felt like they were in Sunday’s game for as long as halftime lasted. Cincinnati’s weekly singular touchdown came before the first half ended, but it was all Cowboys after that.
There were surprises that came before kickoff, and similar incidents occurred as the game painfully persisted. We will cover this weird trend we are seeing late in the Zac Taylor’s tenure that is becoming more obvious as the losses pile up. The snap counts tell a frustrating tale.
Snap count takeaways from the Bengals loss to the Cowboys:
- You want to know one way you end up with a ton of snaps? You give up a defensive touchdown after a long drive and constantly give the opposing team a short field. Brandon Allen deserves some credit for actually moving the ball a bit better this week and converting third downs. The Bengals run game also showed sigs of life against one of the worst run defenses, but it ultimately results in a shallow 72 snaps for the Bengals against the 51 for the Cowboys.
- Starting with some good. Left guard Michael Jordan was a healthy scratch this week, which shows the coaching staff is finally making some changes. This isn’t to say Jordan’s career as a young player is over, but it was painfully obvious that his struggles were bringing down the rest of the offense. Xavier Su’a-Filo replaced Jordan and played all 72 snaps at left guard. We also got to see Fred Johnson (62) again. He didn’t have a perfect game, but considering he was replacing Hakeem Adeniji (10) at left tackle, it was a pretty good outing for a backup. We will touch on Adeniji’s benching momentarily.
- Samaje Perine (28) and Trayveon Williams (27) led the backfield surprisingly. Giovani Bernard (17) was benched for a vast majority of the first half after being benched for fumbling on his second carry. We will dive into Bernard’s benching in a little bit, but it was good to see Williams finally get an opportunity after sitting and waiting for his opportunity for a long time. His fumble was returned for a touchdown, though, which really put a damper on his day.
- One interesting thing that came from the defense only playing 51 snaps was a tightened defensive line rotation. Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson both played 46 snaps, and that put them at roughly 90 percent of the plays where they usually hover around 60 to 70 percent. Geno Atkins only had seven snaps on the day, and you have to wonder about his possible future with the team following this season at this point. Meanwhile, Margus Hunt had an impactful 20 snaps as a rotational defender inside.
- Less defensive snaps also meant a significant decrease in opportunity for Logan Wilson (8), who actually played as much as fellow rookie linebacker Markus Bailey (8). Akeem Davis-Gaither (5) continued to be limited in comparison. Josh Bynes (35) and Germaine Pratt (40) played good enough that this wasn’t necessarily egregious, but it’d be nice for these players to have a chance to develop during a lost season.
What is this coaching staff trying to prove?
Let’s get into the frustration that Bengals fans should feel from Sunday’s game. This coaching staff attempted to make some example of players, and that was obvious by the moves to have Jordan and Randy Bullock inactive for the game. It didn’t stop there, though. As we mentioned, Adeniji and Bernard were benched early in this game, and while Bernard eventually returned, he was clearly still removed from most of the game.
What kind of backward logic is this coaching staff working with? We have watched tons of players struggle week in and week out over their tenure that ever seem to have their jobs in jeopardy, but they were quick to pull the trigger on these guys. Adeniji had a couple rough plays, but it seemed like his benching followed Williams creating a butt fumble from running right into him. I don’t get how that falls on the rookie offensive lineman, who showed plenty of promise at left tackle starting in Pittsburgh earlier this season.
Then there was Bernard’s benching. Bernard’s last fumble came in his rookie season over 800 carries ago. However, his early fumble—which resulted in just a field goal for Dallas—was enough to cause this coaching staff to bench one of their team captains and most explosive players on an offense desperate for any life. Not to mention Bernard has been one of the biggest vocal supporters of this staff through all of their struggles, and they gave him that kind of treatment. It would be one thing if Bernard had already fumbled multiple times this season, but he just simply hasn’t.
This is troubling on its own, but it looks worse when you go back and think how long it took them to finally bench Jordan. This week seemed like an overdue dose of accountability, and some players lucked out due to a lack of depth. Bobby Hart is still playing after reverting back to his regular form and Alex Erickson fumbled one of his lone opportunities. Brandon Wilson was inactive this game, but how is Erickson still the returner, much less, still somehow getting designed plays called for him every game?
We’ve heard grumblings of unhappy players, and I’m not insinuating any of these players will be new additions to that group or are already part of that group, but it doesn’t take much to see the agenda. There are obviously favorites, and that is a huge issue on its own. It becomes even bigger when those players struggle to play at an average level.
I have looked over these snaps almost every single week these past few seasons, and it isn’t hard to find the guys these coaches want to be good, but they should’ve been replaced or put in competitions a long time ago.
Bengals snaps against Cowboys
|POS.||NAME||Snaps||Percentage of snaps|
|POS.||NAME||Snaps||Percentage of snaps|
|S||Jessie Bates III||51||100|