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NFL Week 3: Monday Night Footballby Jason Marcum on September 23, 2019 at 11:15 pm
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images Are you ready for some Case Keenum vs. Mitch Trubisky FOOTBALL?!? Week 3 wraps up tonight as Washington plays host to the Bears. Not really sure anything else can be said about that, but anyhow, let’s talk football!
Zac Taylor’s new motto seems to be produce or get replacedby NathanBeighle on September 23, 2019 at 10:44 pm
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Auden Tate in, Damion Willis out, Zac Taylor’s culture consistent. The Cincinnati Bengals made waves when they opted to start undrafted free agent Damion Willis in place of the injured A.J. Green. With Green still out and expected to be sitting for longer than his initial 6-8 week diagnosis, head coach Zac Taylor has been shifting around who is the team’s third-string receiver. After two weeks of seeing the majority of offensive snaps, Willis gave the Bengals just four catches and notched just 36 yards. With a few similar-performing receivers on the roster, Taylor opted to head elsewhere, something the old Marvin Lewis-led Bengals didn’t do much of. Willis didn’t see a single offensive snap in the team’s Week 3 loss to Buffalo. Even just last week, the former Troy Trojans standout was on the field for 64% of the offensive snaps. The lack of production sent Taylor to look elsewhere. Willis’ replacement, Auden Tate, did more than double the production of Willis’ first two weeks combined. He ended Week 3 with six receptions on ten targets for a solid team-high 88 yards. Following the game, Taylor explained this change, noting that the Bengals have multiple, interchangeable receivers. “That was a change we did earlier in the week, so Auden has done a good job, he provides some stuff for us. Damion has done a good job. We feel like we have some guys that can play, Alex Erickson jumps in there. You don’t really miss a beat with anybody coming in the game but that was just a decision we made and moved John [John Ross III] to the other side over to ‘x’ and then we moved Auden over to ‘z’.” On both sides of the ball, the Bengals will be forcing players to produce and not just allowing the same group to go out each week. This accountability was instilled in the Taylor-led team early in his short tenure. While slim, even the defensive side of the ball also saw new players involved. After not having a single defensive snap in Week 2, Germaine Pratt, who as expected to be more involved, got in on the action, securing ten snaps in Week 3. Overall, this type of accountability should only be good for the Bengals for the long-term health of the franchise.
A not-so-good update on A.J. Greenby Jason Marcum on September 23, 2019 at 7:13 pm
Photo by Timothy Ludwig/Getty Images The Bengals receiver still isn’t healthy enough to even practice. The Bengals are 0-3 for a lot of reasons, but not all of them are because of who’s on the field. One big reason why Cincinnati has yet to pick up a win, despite having plenty of chances to do so vs. the Seahawks and Bills, is because star receiver A.J. Green remains out while recovering from ankle surgery. When Green initially injured himself on the first day of training camp and subsequently had surgery, the hope was he’d be back by Week 4’s primetime clash with the Steelers. Unfortunately, that won’t happen, as Green may not even practice this week, according to head coach Zac Taylor, who won’t even put a timeline on Green’s recovery. Zac Taylor said WR A.J. Green will be out against Pittsburgh. Taylor said he doesn't expect A.J. Green to practice this week. Said he doesn't want to make a timeline on his return.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) September 23, 2019 Because Green will have missed two months of football whenever he returns to practice, one would think the Bengals will play it safe and get him through two weeks of practice before letting him play in games. That means we may not even see him in Week 5 vs. the Cardinals. Now it’s looking like Week 6 vs. the Ravens may be the target return date for Green unless he makes a lot of progress over the next two weeks. In the meantime, the Bengals will rely on Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate and Damion Willis to carry the load while Green recovers.
Sam Hubbard in a walking bootby Jason Marcum on September 23, 2019 at 6:16 pm
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Another Bengals lineman is banged up. The Bengals appeared to come out of Sunday’s loss in Buffalo without any significant injuries. However, starting defensive end Sam Hubbard was spotted in a walking boot on Monday, according to Paul Dehner of The Athletic. Sam Hubbard in a walking boot. #Bengals— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) September 23, 2019 Hubbard played in 90% of the defensive snaps Sunday and never appeared to get injured, so he may just have a sore foot that the team is being extra precautious with. The emergence of Hubbard has been one of the biggest bright spots of the 2019 Bengals, as he’s become a force off the edge who’s frequently pressuring opposing passers. Through three games, he already has 21 total tackles and two sacks after recording 39 tackles and six sacks across 16 games in 2018. With backup Kerry Wynn already out while recovering from a concussion, that means the Bengals could be down two defensive ends next week vs. the Steelers. But thankfully, Hubbard has a full week to recover before the Monday Night Football clash.
Bengals vs. Bills snap count takeaways: Lack of depth leads to fatigue on defenseby PatrickJudis on September 23, 2019 at 4:05 pm
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images Some fans may have questioned the effort of a few defenders towards the end of the game, but the snaps tell us they never had a chance to rest up for the most important drive. The Bengals had a spirited comeback on Sunday, but unfortunately they came up just short of their first win of the season. Cincinnati also did some interesting things with how they spread out their snaps among players. There are some new things we will have to see if they continue, but there are positives to take away from Wednesday. It wasn’t all perfect, but we can pull a few positives. Snap count takeaways from the Bengals’ loss against the Bills: The Bengals were out-snapped again this week: Cincinnati ran 61 plays to Buffalo’s 78. The major reason the Bengals were so far behind was the offenses extremely slow start. They almost went into the second half without a single first down. Last week, Cincinnati was at least able to move the ball against the 49ers before stalling out. The Bengals defense did a great job of keeping the game from getting out of hand, but they still struggled to slow down the Bills’ offense from moving the ball consistently. A change at wide receiver slid under the radar. Wide receiver Auden Tate seemingly took undrafted rookie Damion Willis’ starting role as Tate had 54 snaps while Willis didn’t have a single offensive snap. Tate rode this opportunity to a career day with six catches for 88 yards on 10 targets. Alex Erickson (7) also played over Willis. It is also worth noting that despite the consistent struggles of John Ross III, he played every offensive snap for the Bengals. A sign this team still isn’t wavering in their confidence in him. Running backs Joe Mixon (35) and Giovani Bernard (26) saw a more even split of snaps this week. Bernard was also on the field for most of the final drive of the game, which was probably to help with pass protection. It was interesting that rookie Trayveon Williams was active for the first time this season, but he didn’t see a single offensive snap. Speaking of even splits, the tight ends continue to be spreading the love. Tyler Eifert (29) and C.J. Uzomah (28) had just about an even split of opportunity. Rookie Drew Sample also had 10 snaps on the day. It seems clear they are trying to keep Eifert healthy by not over working him. No surprise along the offensive line with Michael Jordan and Cordy Glenn both inactive. Andre Smith and Billy Price played every snap as the replacements for the injured linemen. One issue that was hard to ignore defensively was how exhausted some of the defensive linemen were during the game. The most notable example was defensive end Carlos Dunlap (64) barely eve being able to muster up a jog to force a Josh Allen slide near the end of the game. You can’t blame Dunlap as he had been chasing Allen almost the entire game to that point. The Bengals really only had Andrew Brown (29) to spell Dunlap and Sam Hubbard (70) at defensive end. Carl Lawson was active, but it was obvious he wasn’t healthy enough to play since he never stepped onto the field. Can’t really blame coaching or anything here, it is just unfortunate that Cincinnati couldn’t have more of a rotation to have a fresher Dunlap and Hubbard for when it really mattered. One area where the Bengals did have more of a rotation was at linebacker. Nick Vigil (67) and Preston Brown (58) still saw a majority of the snaps, but Cincinnati got players like Germaine Pratt (10), LaRoy Reynolds (8) and Jordan Evans (6) each saw time on defense. This could be the start to an important trend going forward. At this point it is easy to say most fans want to see what the team has in Pratt, and if he can be a guy we can rely on in the future. This rotation also kept these linebackers fresh later in the game, and you could see a pretty drastic difference later in the game between the linebackers and defensive ends chasing guys down. The Bengals took an interesting approach to filling B.W. Webb’s opening as the nickel corner. Tony McRae (29), Darius Phillips (22) and Brandon Wilson (13) all saw snaps in his place. McRae struggled early, but he eventually started to pick his play up, and Phillips had the interception that helped start Cincinnati’s comeback. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bengals look to continue this committee approach in Webb’s absence. Safety Jessie Bates III was the only defender to play every snap. It seems The Bengals took off William Jackson (75) and Dre Kirkpatrick (75) during goal line plays, otherwise they also would’ve had that recognition. What is your biggest snap count takeaway from the Bengals loss to the Bills?