What do you even say to that?
Questioning effort is not something anyone should feel comfortable doing when watching NFL football, but it really did seem like the Bengals left everything they had back in Houston last week.
Their 38-3 dismantling by the hands of the Baltimore Ravens gives them a 4-11-1 record for the 2020 season. Many coaches have already been told they will be fired, and this is a game that can spark more changes to be made.
There were a couple of bright moments from Cincinnati, but the negatives outweigh everything today.
Margus Hunt: One of the Bengals’ many in-season signings, Hunt finished his eighth NFL season on a high note. His extremely large frame was able to get in the way for a couple of Lamar Jackson’s passes. One of his batted passes gave Akeem Davis-Gaither his first career interception.
Trayveon Williams: That 55-yard run was pretty cool, I guess.
Lou Anarumo: No one denies that the Bengals’ defense was shorthanded against a good offense on Sunday. They deployed three backup cornerbacks and two backup defensive tackles. Anarumo got off of the hook last week when Sam Hubbard ended the Texans’ chances of winning at the last second, and allowing 404 rushing yards in the season finale is precisely what couldn’t happen for Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator. No one should be surprised if he is relieved of his duties this upcoming week, fair or unfair.
Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III: It’s been easy to pick on LeShaun Sims this year and the reserve cornerback did not play well, but his safeties arguably had worse outings. Sims expected help on the Ravens’ first touchdown, but Bell jumped the crosser and put Sims in a bind. Bates had some coverage mishaps and missed tackles as well. These two have jobs for the future, obviously, but they played bad when their teammates needed them to step up.
A.J. Green: In what was likely his final game in Bengals stripes, A.J. Green was held without a catch on six targets. It’s the fifth time he’s been held without a catch this season as he finishes with 47 grabs on 98 targets for 523 yards (11.1 avg.) and two scores in 16 games. It’s the fewest yards, touchdowns and yards per catch he’s ever had in a season, including the 2018 season when he played in just nine games.
It’s really unfortunate this is likely how Green’s Bengals career will end. Hopefully, he lands somewhere in 2021 where he can show he can still play at a high level in this league.
Jalen Davis: You can’t blame Bates or Bell for Davis’ poor showing at slot cornerback. Davis played to the outside against Marquise Brown and the former first-round put him in a blender for the game’s second touchdown of the game. He just isn’t starter worthy and the Bengals need another answer at the slot position if Mackensie Alexander doesn’t return next season.
The entire front seven in run defense: Enough said.
Brandon Allen: Has a quarterback ever played so tremendous one week and so terrible the week after? Allen’s -0.99 expected points added per dropback was absolutely abysmal to witness. He may have a place with the Bengals next season, but this was a good reminder for who he really is.
All of us watching: A win was unlikely, but we got nothing positive out of this game. Tee Higgins exited the game with a hamstring injury and didn’t break Cris Collinsworth’s rookie reception record. A.J. Green was held to zero catches his last game with the Bengals, and two of his targets resulted in interceptions that Green had no chance of catching. The Ravens clinched a playoff spot and the Bengals are now left with many questions to answer in the offseason.
Is Zac Taylor a loser even if he won’t get fired? Maybe he is if this means he’ll be extra busy hiring assistants.