The Bengals finished the season with two wins. They beat the Browns in week 17 to end the season on a high note. Here are five things learned from week 17.
1. Zac Taylor is the Worst Coach in the AFC North
Usually, negative things aren’t said about a head coach following a win, but this is different. Two coaches could’ve been considered the worst coach in the AFC North heading into week 17. Zac Taylor had a roster that needed a rebuild, while Freddie Kitchens had a roster that most thought would make the playoffs. After this week, Taylor is the worst coach in the AFC North.
On Sunday night, the Browns decided to fire Freddie Kitchens after he finished 6-10 and lost his last three games of the season. Now Taylor is the worst of the AFC North head coaches between himself, John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin.
2. Milestones Were Hit
Plenty of milestones were up for grabs for the Bengals in week 17 and many hit their objectives. Joe Mixon was able to rush for 1,000 yards, which was astonishing with how he started this season. Tyler Boyd got to 1,000 receiving yards for the second straight season.
There were also some career milestones hit. Carlos Dunlap had 2.5 sacks against the Browns. That moves him up to 69th on the all-time sacks list with 81.5. With a few more good seasons, Dunlap could really rise up the all-time sacks list.
3. Darius Phillips Has A Lot of Potential
With injuries to the secondary, Darius Phillips started against the Browns. He didn’t have a perfect game, but battled tough against the talented Browns receivers. Phillips finished the game with two interceptions and had some decent kick returns.
For a secondary that has not played well this season, finding a player like Phillips gives some optimism heading into next season. If the Bengals can find another talented or player or two in the offseason for the secondary maybe next season won’t be so bad.
4. Andy Dalton Played His Last Game as a Bengal
In week 17, Andy Dalton played what could’ve been his last game as a Bengals. He threw for 190 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Dalton also rushed for a score to help the Bengals get a win in his last start.
With the Bengals having the number one pick, all odds point to them taking LSU quarterback Joe Burrow. If they take Burrow, they will likely start him immediately. That means Dalton should be traded or cut in the offseason, as there is only a minimal cap hit for doing so.
5. The Bengals Can Improve A Lot Next Season
While they have the number one pick, the Bengals showed a lot of grit beating the Browns in week 17. With Burrow likely incoming, the Bengals can have an improved offense. They will be getting Jonah Williams back from injury, which should help the offensive line. Joe Mixon will be back and they could even bring A.J. Green back. With some other draft picks to use, they could upgrade the line further.
On defense, the line still has talented players that will be back for next season. Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Sam Hubbard and Carl Lawson is a good core. Germaine Pratt finished his rookie season strong at linebacker. The secondary needs work, but at least now they found Darius Phillips. If the draft picks are used correctly and the Bengals actually dip in to the free-agent pool a little bit (not likely), they can win a few more games next season.