Answers are few and far between, as the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2019 campaign looks like a complete failure. Ineptitude, injuries and overall roster talent can be questioned after we saw the team fall to 0-6 at Baltimore this past Sunday.
With each passing week and accrued loss, it becomes more and more difficult to pinpoint the positives. We’ll still try this week, though, as the Bengals fell to the Ravens in yet another divisional game.
Young players stepping up with increased roles due to injuries: Auden Tate had a nice game, racking up five catches for 91 yards, while fellow receiver Alex Erickson had 64 all-purpose yards on offense with five touches. We also can’t omit Brandon Wilson, who had a touchdown return to open the contest and has been outstanding as a kickoff return specialist the past two weeks in the relief of both Erickson and Darius Phillips.
Another one-possession loss: This is one of those long-term benefits, I suppose. If the Bengals begin to turn things around as soon as next year, they can point to the fact that, of the 16 accrued losses in 2018-2019, nine have been one-possession deficits.
I’m sure it’s something the front office has in their notes, as they begin crafting 2020 season ticket letters. Was that too sarcastic?
Massive dry spells of productivity: This is kind of a catch-all, in terms of who we’re lumping in for blame, etc. On offense, the Bengals’ first-half possessions on offense went as follows: punt (three-and-out), punt (three-and-out), punt, interception (at Baltimore’s 21-yard line), field goal.
They didn’t score an offensive touchdown until 58:26 came off of the game clock. The defense wasn’t that much better, allowing the Ravens to net 17 points on their first three possessions—all basically in the first quarter (Baltimore kicked the field goal at 14:52 in the second quarter).
Both sides of the ball performing well at different times: While this could initially be viewed as a positive on the surface of the statement, it’s not. Essentially, when the defense finally holds strong to force a punt, they’re usually sent right back out onto the field because of offensive ineptitude and it turns into points for the opposition.
And, on the rare occasion the Bengals score points on offense and could use a clutch stop, the defense folds and the sizable scoreboard hole remains. The 2019 season is really about the Bengals chasing their own tail and/or chicken-or-the-egg scenarios.
A picture worth a thousand words: I like to call it: “You only have yourself to blame”, by CBS’ videographer.
Red zone inefficiency: Zac Taylor was brought to Cincinnati because of his supposedly-innovative approach to offense and his ability to get the team’s offense to put points up on the board. Well, the Bengals have been staggeringly bad in the most critical area of the field, converting just five of 15 red zone attempts into touchdowns (33 percent).
That number also doesn’t take Andy Dalton’s interception from the Ravens’ 21-yard line into account. Even though A.J. Green and John Ross have been injured, Taylor’s lack of using Tyler Eifert, C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample, Tate and other possible red zone weapons is head-scratching to say the least.
2-14: In terms of a full year’s worth of games, if you were to take the Bengals’ last 16 games they have played, dating back to last year, this is their record. Fans are claiming that this stretch of losing seasons from 2016-2019 doesn’t resemble “The Lost Decade” of the 1990s, but a .143 winning percentage over what equates to a recent year’s worth of games says otherwise.
The weekly Injury-fest: Cue game show host voice: “Who’s it going to be to land on I.R. this week, Johnny?” With every passing game, more and more important players are getting dinged with significant injuries, making the subsequent Sunday a veritable game of “Guess Who?”.
Cincinnati’s starting cornerback duo of Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III are the latest to receive news that they’ll be missing time in the “month” window” instead of “weeks”, which doesn’t bode well for a defense that had already been struggling with them in the lineup.
The look and stench of tanking: Take the last two aforementioned “ugly” facets and this is what the picture of tanking looks like for most teams. Cincinnati’s front office nor its coaching staff will admit as much, but between the surprising amounts of time injured players are missing, as compared to initial reports, their lack of making significant moves in the offseason and/or in the trade market and other factors, it looks like the Bengals’ 2019 “plan” is all about getting a top-3 pick in next year’s draft. Yippee.