The Bengals have finally won a game this season. They beat the Jets and now the Bengals have to try to move forward with a 1-11 record. Here are five things learned from week 13.
1. The Bengals Can Win a Game
The drought is over. Cincinnati hosted the Jets and were underdogs, but they played like a team with something on the line. The Bengals controlled the game pretty much the whole way through, winning 22-6. Zac Taylor got his first win as a head coach and can now breathe a little easier.
Winning this game was good for more than just getting Zac Taylor’s first win. The offense played decently and the defense played well. Winning has not jeopardized their position in the 2020 NFL Draft, which should allow them to build a better team for the future.
2. Andy Dalton Wasn’t/Isn’t the Problem
This is something that was likely already known, but Dalton got his job back this week against the Jets. Dalton threw for 243 yards and one touchdown to lead an offense that gave their second-best offensive output of the season.
Just because he isn’t the problem, doesn’t mean he is the long term solution either. The team still has to plan for the future and will have an early draft pick. Dalton is 32 years old and still has his issues. He has never been a player who can carry his team to a championship and there is nothing wrong with that.
3. The Running Game Took a Step Back
After a few games of a productive running game, the running game regressed this week. Joe Mixon rushed 19 times for 44 yards and a touchdown to lead the team. He led the team, as they finished with just 44 total rushing yards for a bad performance. That is not consistent with their performances over the last several weeks.
Mixon has not had a great season, as he has 599 rushing yards this season. The good few weeks showed flashes of what this running game can be, but they are far from consistent. For the future, they’ll need to be able to run the football to win more games.
4. The Defense has Potential
The last few weeks, the Bengals’ defense had been playing better. They allowed 17 points to the Raiders and 16 points to the Steelers. Even though these weren’t the best offenses in the league, it still showed marked improvement over previous weeks. This week against the Jets, they allowed just six points for their best defensive performance of the season.
New York was able to drive for two field goals, but that was about it. The Jets finished the game with just 62 rushing yards and 239 passing yards. Cincinnati shouldn’t feel great about their defense, but they should see this as an opportunity to improve for next season.
5. Carlos Dunlap can Still Be Disruptive
Heading into this game against the Jets, Carlos Dunlap had just 2.5 sacks on the season. He used to be a player that was a threat to reach eight or so sacks every season. The Florida product has shown signs of slowing down in recent years. In this game though, he had three sacks, which is one of the best games of his career.
If Dunlap can recover some of what made him such a good player in his career, the Bengals could have a formidable pass rush in the next few years. The 30-year-old should have some good football left in the tank. This could result in the team having a great defensive line overall with Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson all making plays.