The Bengals have lost 11 in a row to start the season. They lost to the Steelers and now the Bengals have to try to move forward with an 0-11 record. Here are five things learned from week 12.
1. Ryan Finley has no Ball Security
Bengals fans likely already know that Ryan Finley isn’t the answer to their problems. He hasn’t been able to move the ball and the team has continued to lose games with him at quarterback. What has made matters worse is his ball security. Although he has two interceptions in three starts, the main problem is that he has four fumbles in those starts.
A quarterback that can’t throw the ball downfield all that well has to protect the football to sustain drives. That number of fumbles and interceptions is unacceptable. If Finley wants to be a backup in this league after this season, he needs to prove he can protect the football.
2. The Running Game has Found Itself
One of the biggest issues with the Bengals to start the season was their ability to run the football. They were one of the worst teams in the league at doing so, but have now had three good games in a row. Joe Mixon rushed for 79 yards on a solid 4.4 yards per carry. He had a few good runs to help move the chains.
This is good news moving forward, as they’ll need to be able to run the football next year when they have a chance to win some games. If they had run the ball better earlier in the season to compliment Andy Dalton, the Bengals could’ve won a game or two this season.
3. Tyler Boyd Needs Targets
Tyler Boyd asked for more targets this week and he got more production as a result. Boyd finished the game with five catches on nine targets for 101 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Finley made a point of targeting Boyd often in this game, as he led the team in both targets and catches.
Boyd did have a key fumble that cost the Bengals, which was not ideal after asking for more targets, but that can be cleaned up. With A.J. Green out again this week, Boyd had the be the go-to-guy in the passing game. He has produced good seasons in the past and is a proven playmaker, which means going forward, he has to be utilized.
4. Germaine Pratt is Stepping up
The Bengals have slowly let rookie third-round pick Germaine Pratt get more time at linebacker this season. They even recently cut Preston Brown, despite him being on a three-year deal. Pratt has shown he can step up without Brown on the team, as he has played well with more playing time. Against the Steelers, Pratt had eight tackles, which led the team.
He didn’t play a great game, it seems not many players on the defense have done that this season, but it was a solid game for a rookie third-rounder. For the rest of the season, Pratt needs to continue to improve so that he can be a factor next year.
5. The Defense is on a Hotstreak
For the second straight week, the defense was able to hold an opponent to under 20 points in the game. They held the Raiders to 17 points and now the Steelers to 16 points. These are not great offenses by far, but it is still a good step for a defense that has been historically bad at times over the last two seasons.
With backup quarterbacks in the game, Pittsburgh completed under 50 percent of their passes for 179 yards. The Steelers ran the ball for 160 yards too for good balance, but only allowing 339 yards of total offense is a good day for this defense.