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4 things we learned from the disaster against the Dolphins

Boy, this was a trainwreck.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

When it seemed like things couldn’t get worse, the Bengals gave us that disaster.

If you look at the box score, it doesn’t seem like that devastating of a loss. After all, the score was only 19-7, a mere 12-point deficit.

But everyone who watched will probably tell you that the game couldn’t end soon enough.

It seems now more than ever that Zac Taylor is unfit to be the Bengals’ head coach. But, he works for the Brown family, so we’ll probably be saying the same thing for the entire 2021 season as well.

Enough preamble; let’s get to it so we can move on and talk about next year.

What did we learn from the disaster against the Dolphins.

What culture?

Obviously, Zac Taylor can’t defend his performance based on wins and losses. Taylor is going to have two of the three worst seasons in Bengals’ history under his watch.

Taylor would probably tell you that he is building a winning culture. Yeah...okay.

In Taylor’s culture, Carlos Dunlap went from Walter Peyton Man of the Year nominee to a locker room liability. In Taylor’s culture, Shawn Williams, the NFLPA Community MVP merely six weeks ago, stepped on a Dolphin and landed a suspension. In Taylor’s Culture, A.J. Green, the $18 million man, has disappeared.

A team that’s “doing it the right way” does not get into multiple brawls during a game.

The culture that Taylor is building is a culture the Bengals can do without.

The Bengals can’t win with this offense

In the last ten quarters, the Bengals’ offense has scored 17 points.

The Bengals without Joe Burrow have put together back-to-back games of ten offensive points or less. With Joe Burrow, the Bengals scored 30 or more points every other game. For as bad as the Bengals have been, Burrow made their offense dangerous.

Burrow never put together back-to-back low-scoring games. Brandon Allen did it in his first two starts.

The icing on the cake is that the Bengals only had 30 yards of offense in the second half. And 32 of those yards came on one drive. Yes, you read that correctly.

The Bengals have had three scoring drives in the Brandon Allen with Brandon Allen. One of those drives took seven plays, and covered 40 yards on offense and 32 yards off of penalties. Another drive started with favorable field position off of a turnover, which resulted in a field goal. The third took the longest play of Tyler Boyd’s career to get in the end zone.

Eight quarters. Three scoring drives. Two touchdowns. Only one drive that the offense manufactured as a unit.

This is just ugly, shameful, and embarrassing. Zac Taylor should be embarrassed.

Special Teams was off

As good as special teams was last Sunday, the personnel choices were confusing this Sunday.

Brandon Wilson scored a touchdown on his first kick return of the game last week. Wilson is one of the best kick returners in the NFL. Yet Alex Erickson was the primary return man in Miami.

Wilson played in special teams early on the punt coverage team with Stanley Morgan Jr. The two of them were instrumental in flipping the field and help keep the Dolphins eight punt return yards on the day. But late in the game, Mike Thomas got the nod, and rewarded the Bengals with two penalties resulting in poor technique.

Perhaps depth at defensive back was a concern, but that opens a whole other can of worms, since the Bengals chose to roster only three cornerbacks for this game.

Whatever is going on, the Bengals chose to leave their best special players off the field. The decision was puzzling and the result was devastating.

Special teams kept the game close last week. They were unable to do so this week. Pair that with the miserable offense, and the Bengals never had a chance.

Offensive personnel was interesting at times

On the last offensive play for the Bengals, the Bengals made an interesting decision.

Ryan Finley, who was in for Brandon Allen, was driving down the field. On a second and eight play, Finley and Giovani Bernard were in the backfield. A.J. Green was lined up on the left, while Alex Erickson, Thomas, and Cethan Carter were lined up on the right.

Tee Higgins and Drew Sample, the highest graded skill position players according to PFF, were on the bench. Green, the most talented player on the field by a long shot, was running a decoy route. You can tell because he ran for five yards, then slowed down.

Ultimately, Finley overthrew Erickson, who was three yards downfield. The play resulted in an interception.

Realistically, the game was over by that point. The season is over too, for that matter. But if Taylor wants to focus on building culture and momentum and so on and so forth, then he needs to give more of an effort. That did not look like the play call of a head coach who wants to win.

The offensive line is another area where the decision making is suspect.

Xavier Su’a-Filo was activated off of Injured Reserve, but Taylor didn’t put him in until the fourth quarter. If he was healthy enough to play, why couldn’t he start?

There’s no reason Michael Jordan should keep playing at this point. Earlier in the season, you could make the argument that he and Redmond had to play because the only other alternative was Billy Price.

But now, Su’a-Filo is healthy, and the Bengals have added Quinton Spain and B.J. Finney. The Bengals should at least explore those alternatives.