The Bengals have lost seven in a row to start the season. They lost to the Jaguars and now the Bengals have to try to move forward with an 0-7 record. Here are five things learned from week 7.
1. Andy Dalton is Incapable of Playing Better Without Help
Cincinnati had another tough loss, as they were in the game, but second-half turnovers gave it away. The Jaguars picked off Andy Dalton on three consecutive pass attempts and sealed the game. Dalton is the same player as he always has been. He can win regular-season games if he has talent around him. But with the way the roster is right now, mainly the injuries, he doesn’t have enough talent around him to win games.
Other quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes can elevate their teams, Dalton just simply isn’t that guy. The majority of NFL quarterbacks aren’t built like that, so Dalton isn’t alone. For Cincinnati fans, they can either hope his play gets better when A.J. Green returns to the lineup or just throw in the towel on Dalton’s play being much better.
2. Changes are Coming
In the postgame press conference, Zac Taylor made it clear that changes were coming. He was even asked whether or not Ryan Finley would get a chance to play quarterback, but said he wouldn’t answer that question. If he truly believed in starting Dalton the rest of the way, he likely would’ve said that he was sticking with Dalton or that he wasn’t planning on playing Finley.
The news that changes are coming is good for Cincinnati fans. Getting younger players experience in the future is paramount for this team, as the veterans weren’t getting the job done and the youth on the team will be around for this rebuild. The Bengals have already seen positive results from young players getting more run in Germaine Pratt, Brandon Wilson and Auden Tate. Seeing what the rest of the roster can do will help the team plan for the future.
3. Geno Atkins Still has it
Geno Atkins hadn’t played well this season and was inconsistent last year, but he proved just how good of a player he can still be with his play against the Jags on Sunday. He had six total tackles and two sacks. Atkins was able to dominate the interior offensive line of the Jaguars, as he even knocked around one of the highest-paid guards in the league, Andrew Norwell.
The Bengals already have Atkins locked up through the 2022 season so it is important that he is able to stay productive through that time. If the Bengals rebuild correctly, they should be able to start competing near the end of Atkins current contract. If he still has some left in the tank at that point, and if the Bengals draft well, there could be some light at the end of the tunnel for Atkins’ career.
4. Auden Tate Deserves Playing Time When Everyone Returns
Much has been made about the injuries to the wide receivers this year. A.J. Green still has yet to play a snap this season. John Ross will still be out for several more weeks. In their absences, Auden Tate has stepped up big time. He has played well enough that even when everyone is back healthy, the Bengals need to get him some playing time.
So far this year, Tate has 22 catches for 326 yards and a touchdown. This week, he totaled three catches for 65 yards. He has made highlight-reel catches and has used his 6-foot-5 frame well to be a matchup problem for defenses. With a team that can move the ball downfield a little better, he could be an elite red zone threat as well. Tate has more than earned more playing time.
5. The Wide Receivers Have to Catch Better
Several times in this game, wide receivers dropped passes. While Dalton didn’t play well, it would’ve helped had his receivers caught the passes they were supposed to catch. Alex Erickson dropped a few passes. It’s hard to totally fault Erickson though, as he was the team’s leading receiver with 138 yards.
Getting Green back should help the receivers improve, but Tyler Boyd also has to step up. If a quarterback change is made, the receivers need to help out Finley as much as possible. The team already had issues with drops because of John Ross, it seems like it became a little contagious.