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Bengals Mailbag: Play-calling duties, offensive personnel and destination tailgates

John Sheeran and Anthony Cosenza are joined by Bengals social media favorites “The Bengalorian” and Tyler Meinerding to answer the burning questions on the minds of fans. Submit yours a number of ways!

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The Cincinnati Bengals have entered “must-win territory”. For the second consecutive season, Zac Taylor’s crew travels to New York to take on the Jets in another tricky contest.

A very important game comes with a couple of very important guests. John Sheeran and Anthony Cosenza of Cincy Jungle and The Orange and Black Insider are joined by a Bengals Twitter favorite in “The Bengalorian”.

In terms of tailgates, Bengals fans are spoiled. Our guys Bengal Jim, James Spink, Tom Justin and Jamie Stephens throw wild ones (even at road venues), while the Bengals Bomb Squad also provides a rockin’ good time near Paycor Stadium.

However, away games for Ohio natives leave a void. That’s where guys like The Bengalorian and Bengals superfan Tyler Meinerding step in and cure what ails. For the Jets game this week, they are throwing a Bengals home tailgate for fans at Wild Wing in Springboro, Ohio.

Good food, drinks and great prizes are available at the tailgate, so show up and have some fun!

Additionally, our trio fielded Bengals fan questions. Many of which centered around the running back personnel and their usage.

The big question in all of this is: “Where is Chris Evans?”. Sure, the prevailing thought is that the team wants to save him for kickoff returns and the occasional offensive spell, but neither has occurred.

He’s had exactly one offensive snap and zero of his kickoff returns have been returnable to this point. So, the prevalent summertime theory that he’d get more touches this season hasn’t come to fruition.

I think most can agree that Evans isn’t an every-down NFL back. However, with the offense sputtering and his lack of even having a returnable kickoff, why hasn’t he been part of the plan?

Joe Mixon has a big NFL running back contract, only eclipsed by his overall talent. And, when he needs a spell, Samaje Perine (a coaching favorite, as evidenced by being one of Zac Taylor’s first final cuts/waiver wire pickups) is in as a do-it-all guy—particularly as a pass protector.

Credit goes to the Cincinnati staff, in a way, as they tried to get a playmaker the ball in his hands in the form of special teams touches. It’s just that they’re not there and the offense is lacking a spark.

Defenses are adjusting in attempt to disallow Joe Burrow to get the ball to explosive wide receivers—especially deep downfield. It’s largely worked thus far, given the lack of big plays seen and/or attempted by the Bengals’ offense.

So, isn’t that where a guy like Evans would come in? Back in 2005 (yes, the game has changed a lot since then), defenses adjusted to Carson Palmer and his four-headed receiver hydra of Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Henry and, yes, Kelley Washington.

The result? Defensive-minded head coach Marvin Lewis putting forth a versatile back in Chris Perry, who netted 51 catches, for 328 yards, two receiving touchdowns and 17 first downs.

Do fans talk about that helpful statistical output in an explosive year? No—they’d rather focus on the overall bust Perry would eventually become.

Michigan Wolverine connection aside, the skill set and physical profiles are staggeringly similar. Perry checked in at 6’0” and 224 pounds, while Evans is at 5’11” and 219, respectively.

If opposing teams are taking away the big play, adjustments to players like Evans are ones that need to be made. At worst, it’s a fun experiment that didn’t work.


Therein lies the questions and perceived problem that centers around this current staff. There’s a dichotomy of offensive innovation and previous regime-esque rigidity, even in this age of offensive innovation.

Of course, Zac Taylor and his staff play into the vision and players they’ve brought into the system. And, given the AFC Championship title last year, it’s easy to question things.

But, truly great coaching prowess comes in adjustments and adaptation. Yes, Bill Belichick had Tom Brady for two decades, but he has always been a coach who, defensively, takes away what his opposition does the best.

Taylor and the Bengals’ offense are in the midst of changing things up, but the lingering questions of the whereabouts of Evans plays into the whole thing. If the offensive line isn’t holding up and allowing deep plays, can’t Evans be slotted in somewhere?

Scheme versus personnel remains the discussion, but a lack of adaption remains an area of concern. A lot of questions this week centered around Taylor giving up the play-calling duties.

While there is merit to the argument, let’s make one thing clear: He’s not giving them up. Be it because of Cincinnati’s preference of continuity and loyalty, or Taylor’s own sales pitch to the Bengals’ brain trust when landing the head coaching job, wunderkind Taylor will be “the guy” until he’s not.

Essentially, for those wishing for an aide, Taylor to rescind play-calling duties or aomething of the like, keep waiting. But, truthfully (and, frankly, more realistically), the hope should be that Taylor expands his views and begins to include new concepts and/or players—at least to get them out of the predictable funk they’re in now.

Also on tap on this Listener Questions Live episode:

  • What’s going on with the Bengals’ offensive tackles?
  • Are we worried more about the offensive line issues, or the lack of defensive pressure on opposing quarterbacks?
  • Where are we viewing Joe Mixon right now?
  • And so much more!

Our thanks to those who submitted questions and our apologies if we didn’t get to yours. As always, we answer questions in a number of ways:

  • A number of live chats and comment threads. On this post, the above-embedded YouTube video, Cincy Jungle’s Facebook and more.
  • Call/Text (949) 542-6241.
  • Email us at
  • Tweet @BengalsOBI or @CincyJungle.

Our thanks to those who joined us for the live broadcast!! If you missed it, you can now get it on your favorite platform!

If you’re unable to join us live here at Cincy Jungle or YouTube for every episode, all of our podcast content is available here on CJ, the Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Google Play Music apps, our Orange and Black Insider YouTube channel, as well as through Megaphone and, as always, on iTunes! Thanks for listening and go subscribe to our channels to be notified when we’re going live and when new episodes are available!