The Cincinnati Bengals were looking for some kind of spark this week, as they went with the rookie quarterback in Ryan Finley. Let’s just say that things didn’t go as planned.
Because the losers were so prevalent this week, we decided to go with position groups a little more frequently than individual players. Ryan Finley bounced on, off and around this list a couple of times, as arguments could be made as both indictments and defense of his performance.
Take that how you will, as these are the best and worst performers in the Bengals’ 49-13 loss to the Ravens.
Joe Mixon: Effort, effort, effort. Don’t tell this guy his team is 0-8 because he sure isn’t playing like it.
Cincinnati’s offense and Mixon actually found some creases against Baltimore’s No. 2-ranked run defense, rushing for 101 yards. He also added a couple of nice plays through the air and was even seen carrying Ryan Finley to a first down after he was stopped on a sneak.
Gotta like this. Avoids the sack, scans the field and it creates a huge play. Risky to throw all the way back to the other hash, but a really nice play by Finley. pic.twitter.com/jtw9hEsPIk— Anthony Cosenza (@CJAnthonyCUI) November 10, 2019
Brandon Wilson: Another week, another big kickoff return from Wilson. He had an electric 47-yard return in the second half and averaged over 30 yards per return on the day. If the Bengals had a competent offense, they would better utilize the field position Wilson routinely gives them.
Most of the linebackers: Does anyone want to cover a tight end? The annual Achilles Heel for the Bengals made its reappearance on Sunday, be it in the form of chunk plays given up by Nick Vigil and Germaine Pratt, or Preston Brown’s allowance of a touchdown reception to Mark Andrews.
The overall athleticism and tackling ability of the group continues to be under scrutiny. Vigil was completely embarrassed by Lamar Jackson on his 47-yard touchdown run, while the rookie, Germaine Pratt, was the only guy in the group doing anything positive and that was only on a couple of occasions.
Basically every member of the secondary: What is going on here? Rich Gannon and Kevin Harlan continued to gush about the Ravens’ secondary because of the myriad of former high picks that litter the group, but not long ago, Cincinnati had one of the most talented back-end group of defenders in the league.
My, how times have changed. Like the linebackers, they can’t assist in covering tight ends, but they’re also a step behind on most recognitions in pass coverage. Jessie Bates III had a nice interception, but it was against Ravens backup quarterback, Robert Griffin III and the team’s first pick since Week 3.
Even so, Bates was a responsible coverage man on Brown’s touchdown. To boot, Jackson was sat before the fourth quarter and still finished with 223 passing yards and had a 14.9-yard average per completion.
The Bengals’ defensive line: In a rarity, Geno Atkins had a couple of uncharacteristically-poor plays against Baltimore. He was seen getting somewhat mowed over by Mark Ingram II on his touchdown run and also failed to corral Jackson on a would-be sack (though, to be fair, that happens to a lot of NFL defenders).
Where is the pressure up front? Cincinnati finally got its first true hit on Jackson midway through the third quarter and, wouldn’t you know it? Jackson threw a touchdown to Marquise Brown with Bates in coverage. We also saw Carlos Dunlap be out of position on Jackson’s run, while Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson, who returned from a lingering injury, were non-factors.
Stanley Morgan: Cincinnati tried to muster something on offense in the second half with a patchwork group of wide receivers. Morgan was in the lineup and Finley sought him out two plays in a row.
The result? Two drops to lead to a drive that would end on downs. So much for looking great in training camp and the preseason, eh?
Zac Taylor: You’ve made the quarterback change to “your guy”. You host a division rival at home, while coming off of a bye week. Things could have shaped up for one of the better team performances of the year.
Instead, Taylor’s Bengals put on another embarrassing performance, getting blown out by more than five touchdowns. I’m not sure how many more scapegoats Taylor can find with each mounting loss, nor can I understand how these displays of “football” are tolerated by Cincinnati’s front office.
Jim Turner and the offensive line: On one hand, the team getting its first 100-yard rusher should point to a positive day up front. There’s some truth to that, but the credit there is more on Mixon’s personal efforts to gain extra yardage.
Mixon was frequently contacted at or behind the line of scrimmage, while the Ravens notched two sacks and five tackles-for-loss. It can be argued that the Bengals should be looking for at least three, if not four or five new starting offensive linemen than what they trotted out against Baltimore.
John Miller might be an exception, though he seems replaceable, while Trey Hopkins seems like one too, but he had a rough day. Hopkins sailed a snap and was seen pushed backwards on a couple of occasions—including on a Finley sneak.