The Cincinnati Bengals were absolutely on fire with a 5-2 record following their road thrashing of the Baltimore Ravens. In a game in which they entered underdogs, the Bengals ended up winning by 24 points.
However, in the two games following that hope-giving performance, the Bengals' defense fell apart. It’s been their secondary mostly to blame as well, especially considering first-time starter Mike White through for a Week 8-high 405 yards and three touchdowns.
When the secondary has struggled, typically so has star safety Jessie Bates. The fourth-year player is hoping to be the big-time playmaker for that unit and, given where they stand in extension negotiations, is wanting to be paid like one.
Bates told reporters earlier this week that his mind wasn’t always on football, and that was evident the two weeks leading up to the bye.
“I feel like my mind was ... Honestly, it was on other things throughout the first part of the season. I feel like I’m at a better headspace now than I was at the beginning of the season. So caught on to proving the wrong people right and the main thing I should be focusing on is proving the right people right as far as my coaches, my teammates, my family and not worry about all of the other stuff. I know that’s gonna work out, I know what type of player I am, that stuff’s gonna work out regardless, but like I said I gotta be better for this team”
The Bengals have allowed 75 points over the past two weeks. Against the Browns, Bates had one of his worst showing, totaling just five tackles. Bates has just one pass defended through eight games. He had 15 all of last season.
Pro Football Focus has Bates graded a low 55.6. Bates needs to be the leader of the second unit, and he knows it. Having the ability to rebound, expect a laser-focused Bates as the Bengals head out for a crucial game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium.