It’s hard to be positive after losing your franchise quarterback for the season, but the Cincinnati Bengals have no choice but to look for that proverbial silver lining.
Fortunately, there are still a number of players who will never quit, no matter the odds. And there are a few more who need to re-discover the fire that helped put this squad in the AFC Championship game in each of the last two seasons.
But, with a little luck and a lot more hard work and dedication, it may still be possible to turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.
Joe Mixon has been on fire the last couple of weeks, during which time he has looked like one of the league’s premier running backs. In the loss to the Ravens Thursday night, Mixon finished with 69 yards rushing on 16 carries (an average of 4.3 yards per carry) and pulled in five receptions for 31 yards and a touchdown. The week before, in the loss to the Houston Texans, Mixon had 11 rushes for 46 yards and a score.
With quarterback Joe Burrow sidelined for the remainder of the season, we can only hope to see more of the Oklahoma grad as the Bengals try to lock down a wild-card berth in the playoffs.
The offensive line is bad. Cordell Volson still can’t pass block, and Alex Cappa and Orlando Brown Jr. seem to have regressed. Pro Football Focus (PFF) has the line rated at No. 23 in the league and falling fast. Offensive line coach Frank Pollack hasn’t shown that he is capable of stopping the bleeding. All in all, this line is nothing short of a disaster, again.
Trey Hendrickson is one of the best pass rushers in the league, bar none. Through the first 10 games of the season, PFF has Hendrickson credited with 11 sacks, 35 hurries, 6 hits and 52 total pressures. His pass rush grade of 90.6 places him among the elite.
Hendrickson suffered a leg injury late in the loss to the Texans, yet was back in the starting lineup against the Ravens on Thursday night and recorded a sack and two tackles for loss.
Whatever happened to Joseph Ossai? A third-round selection of the Bengals in the 2021 NFL Draft, Ossai came into the season with high hopes. But something happened on the way to the stadium.
Ossai managed just one tackle against the Ravens Thursday night and did not even appear on the stat sheet in the loss to the Texans. On the season, Ossai has posted three solo tackles, one assist, and no sacks.
Jordan Battle is a baller. End of discussion. Battle finally got his chance to shine Thursday night, and he made the most of it. Sure, he made his share of rookie mistakes. But he finished as Cincinnati’s leading tackler with 10 solo tackles and two assists.
For his efforts, Battle is now set to start in place of Nick Scott vs. Pittsburgh.
When Sam Hubbard went down with an ankle injury in Buffalo, Zach Carter was supposed to help pick up the slack. It hasn’t happened. Carter notched just a single tackle against both Houston and Baltimore and has yet to record a sack.
Tanner Hudson looked like an up-and-coming star during the preseason but took a back seat to fellow free agent acquisition Irv Smith Jr. But Hudson made the most of his opportunities and was added to the active roster on November 1.
Hudson responded with four catches for 45 yards in the win over the Bills and had six receptions for 33 yards the following week against the Texans. Thursday night, Hudson had four receptions for a team-high 49 yards.
Defense. Enough said.
What do you guys and gals think? Whose stock is rising/falling the most within the Bengals organization? Let us know in the comments section!