The Bengals still have one win this season. They lost to the Browns and now the Bengals have to try to move forward with a 1-12 record. Here are five things learned from week 14.
1. The Running Game is Much Improved…Again
For most of the season, the Bengals had trouble running the football. That changed a few weeks ago, as the team started to progress in that area. When they played the Jets last week though, the running game faded again. After playing the Browns this week, the running game has showed up in all, but one of the last several weeks.
Cincinnati seemed to emphasize running the ball well in this game. Joe Mixon had 23 carries for 146 yards and one touchdown. The team as a whole had 179 rushing yards on the day. If they can keep that type of running the ball up, next season should be easier on a potential rookie quarterback.
2. Andy Dalton Still Can’t Carry the Team to Victory
This was mentioned last week after Dalton helped lead the team to a win. He is much better than Ryan Finley, but at the end of the day he needs help around him to be a successful. Dalton will not carry this team to victory without adequate weapons as quarterbacks like Russell Wilson does.
He played decently, completing 22 out of 38 passes for 262 yards and an interception. The interception wasn’t the best throw, but it did hit his receiver’s hands first. Dalton had a solid game, but at this point the Bengals know what they have in Dalton. Now, they need to start thinking of what to do this offseason at the quarterback position.
3. The Defensive Line Underperformed
The defensive line is supposed to be one of the few areas of strength for the Bengals. With Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Sam Hubbard (out for this game) and Carl Lawson, they should be constantly pressuring the quarterback. This is especially true when they play the Browns, as Cleveland does not have a great offensive line.
Lawson was the only player who stepped up for the defensive line all game. He finished the game with one sack and two tackles for loss. Dunlap did have a key hit on Baker Mayfield late in the game, but otherwise was quiet. That was pretty much all the pressure the defensive line generated all game. Next season, the line will need to play more consistent from game to game.
4. Germaine Pratt is Developing
When the Bengals waived Preston Brown earlier in the season, rookie third-rounder Germaine Pratt received an increased role in the defense. He hasn’t been the best player, but has shown some flashes that he can be productive for the future of this team.
Pratt led the Bengals in tackles this week with eight. That isn’t an eye-popping number, but he is still developing. He is making some of the basic plays required of a linebacker and hopefully can create more big plays as time goes on.
5. Randy Bullock is Reliable
The Bengals have had Randy Bullock for a few years now. He has never been one of the best kickers in the league, but he has been solid for them. Bullock has hit 83 percent of his field goals in over three seasons with the team. Unfortunately, the team hasn’t been able to be in too many positions where his field goals have mattered as of late.
Cincinnati scored just one touchdown against the Browns, so Bullock did a lot of the heavy lifting. He hit all four field-goal attempts and his one extra point in this game. His long was just 46, but he came up cutch near the end of the game, even if the Bengals couldn’t complete the comeback attempt. If the team starts to win in the coming years, they will have a reliable kicker to go to.