It’s only appropriate that the Cincinnati Bengals enter the bye week at 3-3.
They have been a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde team this year, with some ugly moments and some beautiful flashes. A few players have far exceeded expectations while a couple of stars have had uncharacteristic starts. Let’s get right into it.
Mr. 7/11 himself has 50 catches on this short season, on pace for the second most catches in a season, behind only Michael Thomas, who had 149 in 2019. And accusations of “slant merchant” don’t apply to Chase. He was, until recently, the Bengals’ big play guy. Well now he’s kinda their entire offense.
Just as Chase is carrying the passing game, Hendrickson is carrying the pass rush. The defensive end now has seven sacks on the season and a few others that were wiped away by penalties. His regular presence in opposing backfields is why he has a Pro Football Focus pass rush grade of 90.9, third best in the league.
PFF Pass Rush Grade among edge defenders— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) October 16, 2023
(Factors in speed of wins, win rate, finishing plays, forced fumbles, drawing penalties, and more)
Myles Garrett 93.6
Nick Bosa 92.3
Trey Hendrickson 90.9
T.J. Watt 90.9
Micah Parsons 90.8
Maxx Crosby 90.7
Aidan Hutchinson 90.0
Not only is Hendrickson winning, but the attention he’s getting is helping other players get to QBs, like we saw late in the Bengals’ win over the Seattle Seahawks, when Sam Hubbard and B.J. Hill made life for Geno Smith miserable.
Get a little glimpse of how much fun he’s having and how much he’s in the opponents’ heads in this clip from last Sunday:
Trey Hendrickson cracks me up pic.twitter.com/kNxRwZmTqk— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) October 16, 2023
The fourth-year linebacker fresh off a contract extension is everywhere. Against Seattle, he had 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, and a QB hit.
It’s not the contract, it’s that new dad strength.— Drew Garrison (@DrewGarrison) October 16, 2023
Logan Wilson is balling this year.
- 11 tackles (9 solo)
- 2 tackles for loss
- 1 sack
- 1 QB hit
His 9 career interceptions lead all linebackers since he entered the league in 2020.
Absolute stud. pic.twitter.com/JGKSz5ji7d
In Cincinnati’s first win of the season against the Los Angeles Rams, Wilson intercepted Matt Stafford twice. And he’s had at least eight tackles four of six games so far.
Wilson plays with fire and a certain dedication to his team, the city, and the game. And that was evident in his Mic’d Up video:
We knew the second round pick out of Michigan could fly. We knew he’d add depth and potentially slide into a big role after Chidobe Awuzie.
What we didn’t know was that the soon-to-be-23-year-old was ready to be a shutdown corner and give the Bengals one of the best young cornerback tandems in the league along with Cam Taylor-Britt.
Turner is allowing the lowest passer rating of all rookie CBs.
Lowest passer rating allowed in coverage among rookies:— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 18, 2023
DJ Turner II: 42.4 pic.twitter.com/Gx3sPqAMBC
That’s what happens when you allow just five receptions in 144 coverage snaps.
JuanDrago “DJ” Turner has been SHUTDOWN through six weeks and it isn’t being talked about enough:— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) October 16, 2023
• 144 coverage snaps
• 15 targets
• 5 receptions allowed (43 yards)
• 0 TD’s allowed
• 2 passes defensed
• 42.4 passer rating allowed
And Turner has been facing WR’s like DK… pic.twitter.com/9tVyLj9phs
He’s doing it with a combination of athleticism and excellent ball awareness for a first year player at one of the most difficult positions to adjust to in the NFL.
DJ Turner's athleticism and smooth hips showed up on this play where he has to recover against the scramble drill. He is the prototype in terms of movement skills at the cornerback position. pic.twitter.com/A19NHW1Dac— mike (@bengals_sans) October 10, 2023
And if that weren’t enough, he’s also made some huge plays in the run game.
DJ Turner did a fantastic job in run support against the Cardinals which was something that was a question mark coming out of college. Unbelievable that he's answering those questions as a rookie. pic.twitter.com/HuU9ftzuS9— mike (@bengals_sans) October 10, 2023
On the James Conner big play it was DJ Turner who made the stop all the way from the other side of the field. Superb effort from the rookie! pic.twitter.com/aaxDiJnNkg— mike (@bengals_sans) October 10, 2023
A slam dunk Draft pick that has made Lou Anarumo’s defense the strength of the team once again.
The calf injury really limited the QB’s ability to step into throws as well as the plays he could run early in the season. Most importantly, it messed with his confidence.
Well now Burrow seems to be healthy enough to play through it, but his performance is still hot and cold. And that, in part, has resulted in the Bengals having the worst offense in the NFL.
Numbers often tell the story. A few reasons why the Bengals offense is underperforming:— Kelsey Conway (@KelseyLConway) October 17, 2023
No. 26 in rushing yards per play
No. 27 in points per game
No. 29 in third down percentage
No. 32 in total yards per game
No. 32 rushing yards per game
No. 32 in passing yards per play
Why now? Ja’Marr Chase is playing out of his mind. The offensive line is better than years before. We’re not quite sure. But don’t be surprised if he figures it out over the bye week. Check out our latest show for more:
The star wide receiver is simply not focused this season. He has the lowest catch percentage in the league (41.2%). He’s only catching 18.2% of contested balls. And he’s dropping 17.6% of throws. Ouch.
Of the 49 receivers that have seen at least 25 targets this year, Tee Higgins has the lowest catch percentage at 41.2% -- catching just 14 of his 34 targets. The next lowest catch rate is 52%.— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) October 16, 2023
Higgins has caught just 2 of 11 contested balls this season. That 18.2% is far lower…
In a perhaps unrelated parallel, Jessie Bates similarly lost focus during the regular season when his contract situation wasn’t resolved. And both players are represented by David Mulugheta. Hmm.
But is it really just the contract situation hanging over his head? Or is something else going on? Again, we discuss in our show, which you can catch on iTunes or using the player below:
Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan
Burrow is struggling. Higgins is struggling. And Mixon, predictably, is struggling. Even Chase wasn’t being utilized properly until uttering those famous words, “I’m always f—ing open.”
So who’s to blame? Well, when it’s the entire offense that’s disappointing, naturally you have to look to the head coach and offensive coordinator.
Of the 54 RBs that have carried the ball at least 25 times this season, Joe Mixon ranks...— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) October 16, 2023
40th in Yards After Contact Per
42nd in Breakout Run Percentage
44th in Elusive Rating
Yes, Burrow was injured and Mixon is aging. But making adjustments is what coaches and coordinators are supposed to do. There’s simply too much talent for this offense to be dead last in multiple categories.
The Bengals’ get a chance to redeem themselves against Nick Bosa and the San Francisco 49ers on October 29.