clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

CHRONICLE: Calling it a wash, Ryan Hewitt love, and CBS talking Bengals

Save for the unlikely injury from now until the end of the season, we might as well call Darqueze Dennard's rookie season a wash. Is Ryan Hewitt the best fullback in football? And CBS preps with Bengals conversation.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A first-round pick out of Michigan State from the 2014 NFL draft, Darqueze Dennard has only played 49 defensive snaps this season and those contributions have been spread across only three games. Two games (Titans with 16 snaps and Colts with 18) were the result of mop-up duty during blowouts. The 15 snaps against New Orleans was partially due to Terence Newman recovering from an injury.

"It is kind of frustrating, but at the same time, everything happens for a reason. I'm big on that," Dennard said of his lack of playing time this year. "Of course everybody wants to come in and be the Deion Sanders and play a full game and have a number of interceptions, but that's not how it is. Everybody has different learning experiences. I just have to continue to control what I can and put all my faith in the man upstairs."

In his most recent game on defense, Dennard allowed a five-yard completion against the New Orleans Saints and added a pass defensed. Drew Brees recorded a passer rating of 42.4 when targeting receivers that Dennard was covering.

Unfortunately for Dennard, and let's group Dre Kirkpatrick into this conversation, he's buried on a depth chart rich in talent. Neither are strong enough to replace Leon Hall. Terence Newman is still playing well at 63 years old and Adam Jones is one of the better No. 3 corners in the league (though, why Kirkpatrick and/or Dennard can't spell Jones more often, I'm not sure).

This year is a wash for Dennard.

Next year? All bets are off. Newman will be a free agent, while Hall and Jones enter 2015 on the final year of their existing contracts. Playing time will happen (at least for Dennard). NOTE: Kirkpatrick will be entering a contract year in 2015 also... so maybe his entire career in Cincinnati will be a wash.

Bengals turned tables on the Steelers?
That's the headline in a Cincinnati Enquirer column penned by beat writer Paul Dehner Jr.

As the Bengals approach a December to be defined by their river rivalry, however, the dynamic differs. The idea of the Bengals fighting for perception fell by the wayside upon sweeping the division in 2009. The concept of the Bengals toughness not matching up to black and yellow standards disappeared amid blood-stained jerseys left in the rubble of the 13-10 victory in 2012 at Heinz Field, slashing the Steelers' postseason aspirations.

Not that we're completely willing to jump into a well-written story that results in a conversion that's pro-Bengals, but how have the Bengals "turned the tables"? Don't get me wrong... Pittsburgh isn't what they used to be and Cincinnati keeps submitting winning seasons. However, are we suggesting that Cincinnati has actually had a hand in this?

Since 2010, the Bengals are 2-6 against the Steelers. And since Marvin Lewis arrived in 2003, Cincinnati is only 7-16 against Pittsburgh. The Bengals generated some momentum during a 13-10 win over the Steelers in 2012, which advanced the Bengals into the postseason while sending Pittsburgh home for the holidays. The Bengals added a 20-10 win on Monday Night Football in 2013, giving Cincinnati their longest winning streak against the Steelers since 2009 -- five years ago! And before that, 1998.

Just as they were gaining momentum against the Steelers, the Bengals were embarrassed during a Sunday Night Football "contest", immediately tasked with a 21-point deficit... in the first quarter. The Steelers were leading 30-7 by the fourth quarter and no one wondered if the Bengals turned the tables on the Steelers. This was actually the last time that Cincinnati and Pittsburgh played a football game against each other. It wasn't favorable. At all.

If we're talking confidence, philosophy, concepts, character and personality, fine. The Bengals defense and the Steelers offense currently lead their respective squads, whereas it was Cincinnati's offense against Pittsburgh's defense only 10 years ago. If you're expecting me to believe that the Bengals have "turned the tables" based on one must-win performance in 2012 against a franchise who hasn't had a winning season since 2011, then...

Oh, that must be what was meant. The Steelers are no longer tough nor powerful, whereas the Bengals are no longer intimidated by them. Cool.

Sorry for sounding like a negative Nancy... failing to win big games, primetime games and playoff games, tends to get me a little on edge. :(

Ryan Hewitt with PFF love
Cincinnati Bengals H-back Ryan Hewitt received recognition at Pro Football Focus, who named Hewitt as the league's top fullback for the third quarter of the season (aka, games 9-12).

About 40% of Hewitt’s snaps have come in the last three weeks and his quality showings as a lead blocker against New Orleans (+2.3) and Tampa Bay (+2.9) propels him ahead of the ever-present Anthony Sherman this month.

George Iloka and Adam Jones received honorable mention at safety and punt returner respectively.

Must-win game?

During my Saturday morning (turned afternoon) workout -- which really turns into a Twitter-fest for me (hey, follow me at @Josh_Kirkendall) -- our topic was... is Sunday a Must-win game?

My reasoning is that no matter what happens (win/lose/draw), the Bengals, who are 1.5 games ahead of the Steelers, Browns and Ravens, will maintain first place. To me, a must-win suggests that if you lose, then you're out.

Others have different qualifications for must-win:

There is a point about confidence and momentum (if you believe in that), generating a push for a postseason berth that requires a win. Playoffs. Think on that for a second... that really is a "must win". Seriously. We will lose our sh*t and break the internet in a rage... actually, I'm not sure if that applies for a playoff win or a loss.

It's definitely important. Critical, even. Keeping pace against the division by 1.5 games with three remaining? And that presumes that Cleveland and Baltimore will win. If Cincinnati is the only AFC North team that wins this weekend, we're looking at possible playoff-berth scenarios next week.

Did you get a chill? I got a chill.

Hey - don't be negative.

GREENER PASTURES: Since entering the NFL in 2011, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has generated 4,519 yards receiving. With 87 receiving yards against Pittsburgh on Sunday, Green can surpass Larry Fitzgerald (4,544) and Anquan Boldin (4,605) for the fourth-most receiving yards by any player in his first four NFL seasons. The players with the most receiving yards in their first four seasons:

Randy Moss 5,396
Torry Holt 5,088
Jerry Rice 4,881
Anquan Boldin 4,605
Larry Fitzgerald 4,544
A.J. Green 4,519

Dan Fouts on the Bengals and Steelers
When the Cincinnati Bengals host the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday, Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts will be in the booth calling the game. Fouts spoke about Sunday's game.

(On Pittsburgh-Cincinnati)
"At this point, this game is more critical for Pittsburgh. Because of their tie, Cincinnati actually has a two-game lead in the loss column with only four games left. Therefore, Pittsburgh really can’t afford to lose and fall three games back in the loss column."

(On Cincinnati)
"They really are an enigma when you think about how unpredictable the Bengals have been this year. And yet, they are in first place by a game-and-a-half in a very tough division."

(Keys for Pittsburgh)
"If you look at Cincinnati’s offense, they are loaded. Pittsburgh, at home last week against a New Orleans team with similar-type weapons, was embarrassed defensively. Therefore for Pittsburgh, it’s on the defense. Even with Ben Roethlisberger having a great year, it may not be enough."

(Keys for Cincinnati)
"It comes down to protecting the ball. When you turn the ball over in these types of games it becomes magnified. If you’re at home and turn the ball over to a team like Pittsburgh, it gives them life and belief that they can win the game on the road."

Lewis and Dalton on CBS pregame show
Former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason will sit down with head coach Marvin Lewis and current Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton for a segment on CBS' The NFL Today pregame show.

Andy Dalton on Steelers game: "Any time you get a win, it’s big," says Dalton. "The ultimate goal in this league is to win and we’ll take a win any way we can get it."

Andrew Luck to surpass Andy Dalton?
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck, who entered the NFL in 2012, has led the Colts to 30 regular-season wins. If the Bengals lose, and the Colts get a win against Cleveland this weekend, Luck will surpass Andy Dalton (30) for sole possession of the fifth-most wins among Super Bowl-era starting quarterbacks in their first three seasons. The starting quarterbacks with the most wins through their first three seasons who began their careers in the Super Bowl era (since 1966):

Matt Ryan 33
Dan Marino 33
Joe Flacco 32
Russell Wilson* 32
Andy Dalton 30
Andrew Luck* 30
* Entered NFL in 2012

Bengals week 13 comeback
The Bengals were one of five teams last week that overcame deficits of ten10points or more to eventually win. There have been been 34 comeback victories with deficits of 10 points or more this season. That's the most through 13 weeks in NFL history. Through 13 weeks in 2013 and 2012, there were 33 comeback wins.