Players play. And coaches coach. But it is a coach’s job to put the players in a position to win. Bengals’ head coach Zac Taylor has not done that. And he knows it.
“I’ve got to put our guys in a better position,” Taylor said after Sunday’s 19-7 loss to the Dolphins dropped Cincinnati to 2-9-1 on the season. “We have to make plays that are there, but at the same time, I’ve got to be accountable for that and put us in better spots.”
The Bengals battled to a 7-6 halftime lead Sunday and had 171 total yards after managing just 155 total yards last week. But they managed just 25 total yards in the second half. Miami made adjustments. Cincinnati did not.
“Yeah, I thought they did a good job making adjustments in the second half,” said Bengals’ quarterback Brandon Allen. “Obviously, we schemed them up good. We were ready for their zero pressure and a lot of, like you said, quick screens in the run game and stuff.
“They did a good job in the second half. They were playing it differently, doing some double coverage on certain guys. And we weren’t able to execute through some of that press man they were showing us. And, like I said, we’ve just got to be better. Obviously when they make adjustments, we make adjustments. And we just got out-executed.”
Cincinnati rookie receiver Tee Higgins had four catches for 34 yards in the first half, but did not manage another reception until just over two minutes left in the game, when he was injured hurtling a defender.
“Preparing for them, we saw a lot of zeros, a lot of (Cover) 1,” Higgins said. “And towards the end of the game, they started playing Cover 2. We didn’t think they were ever going to do that. They showed it. And I just think we weren’t ready for it.”
That’s not all the Bengals were not ready for. After holding the Dolphins without a touchdown in the first half, Cincinnati allowed Miami to march 75 yards in just eight plays in the opening possession of the second half.
“I think they sped it up a little bit more in the second half,” Bengals’ safety Jessie Bates said. “That’s exactly what they did actually. In the first half, I think we stopped the run, we eliminated the explosive plays. And then in the second half, I think they got us on our heels when they were going hurry up and that empty formation that they continually go into, they kind of got us backed up. And they were moving the ball pretty well.”
Cincinnati tight end Drew Sample was one of the few offensive players who managed some level of consistency Sunday. Sample had four catches for 31 yards by halftime, and finished as the Bengals’ leader with seven receptions for 49 yards.
“I just think we weren’t really able to get in as good of a rhythm in the second half,” Sample said. “We weren’t executing as well in the first half. We were kind of grinding it out in the first half. The second half we weren’t really able to sustain any drives. So I think that was one of the things that hurt us for sure.”
Cincinnati is 4-23-1 in two years under Taylor and, if Sunday is any indication, things look to be getting worse instead of better.
The Bengals showed an embarrassing lack of discipline Sunday. Although only flagged for six penalties for 62 yards, two of those were pass interference penalties on William Jackson III which occurred within two minutes of each other and led to a Miami field goal. Another was a personal foul on Tyler Boyd midway through the second quarter which led to his ejection.
Although the flag against Boyd was questionable, at best, the one on Shawn Williams that resulted in his disqualification early in the fourth quarter was not. Williams stepped on the right leg of Miami’s Solomon Kindley after gunner Mike Thomas hit Miami return specialist Jakeem Grant early for the second straight time. Thomas was flagged both times for personal fouls.
Then, after the game, Bengals guard Quinton Spain allegedly taunted Dolphins players and tried to follow them into the tunnel before he was pulled away.
All of which points to a Bengals’ team that is spinning out of control, and a head coach who needs to be held accountable.