As someone who has lived in the Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati area for the past 30 years, I’ve seen my fair share of bad teams both with the Reds and the Bengals. When there comes a team that we could even sniff the playoffs, I get excited. Then again, when I think of Marvin Lewis and 0-7 in the playoffs, that excitement quickly turns to dread.
This year’s 2018 Bengals team has offered plenty of encouragement and also plenty of the same ole’ frustration.
Going into the year, the biggest area of concern was the offensive line. The last few years had been a disaster filled with Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi continuall whiffing and getting Andy Dalton destroyed. This year saw the addition of Cordy Glenn at Left Guard, Billy Price drafted in the first round to take over at center, and Bobby Hart won the job at Right Tackle that no one seemed to want to win.
Well, after 8 weeks, the offensive line has been …. not a disaster.
In fact, the offense was clicking at a high enough rate early on that we were thinking this could be a special year. Bill Lazor, with a new offense, simpler and playing to Dalton’s strengths, seemed to have something put together. With multiple weapons at his disposal – AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and possibly John Ross, it looked like we may have had something.
Then, Tyler Eifert’s ankle snapped in half.
John Ross disappeared into nothingness again.
First, Mixon got hurt. Then, Gio. Then Kroft. And, the early promise seemed to disappear.
Is the offense better? Absolutely! And the offensive line should get some credit for improving. However, when compared with the elite offenses in the league – Kansas City, New Orleans and the LA Rams, they can’t keep up.
And that brings us to the defense.
Teryl Austin’s defense has been perhaps the biggest disappointment through 8 games. He brought with him the idea of getting after turnovers. While that has happened more, with a big boost from rookie Jessie Bates, the Bengals Defense has been absolutely atrocious on third downs. The biggest reason? Their linebacker play has been absolutely terrible.
Again and again, we see their linebacker being burnt in coverage, missing tackles, or being completely out of position all together.
The suspension of Vontaze Burfict for the first 4 games didn’t help. But, even when he came back, he seemed to not have learned any lessons again, has missed a ton of tackles, and seems to be on the edge of suspension every time he goes out there. Our only semi-decent linebacker, Nick Vigil, has succumbed to injury as well, which leaves Preston Brown, Hardy Nickerson, Jordan Evans and Vinny Rey. It’s been bad. Really bad.
Couple that with some silent games by the d-line vs. Pittsburg and KC and also a regression by William Jackson and this team has been getting shredded.
All in all, the team has a lot of good, young talent. I think the personnel department has done a great job. But, my long optimism in Marvin Lewis and hope he could turn the corner has been fully eroded. Never was it so clear to me at the lack of in-game coaching accumen as the Chiefs embarrassment of the Bengals on Sunday Night Football. Marv looked shell shocked the entire game.
This team is better than the last 2 years, is on the rise and is on track for the playoffs. However, it looks like it will be another first round bounce.
So, I’ll have to be content with watching AJ and Mixon highlights.