2019 NFL Season Preview- Cincinnati Bengals
For the third consecutive season, the Bengals missed the playoffs with a losing record.
After promising 4-1 and 5-3 starts, the season turned into a nightmare as Cincinnati lost seven of their final eight games.
Quarterback Andy Dalton was completing 62% of his passes and threw 21 touchdowns before a thumb injury on his throwing hand ended his season. Jeff Driskel showed some positive things in place of Dalton, especially as a runner. Running back Joe Mixon came into his own in the last half of the season as he averaged almost five yards per carry and lead the AFC in rushing with 1,198 yards. Giovani Bernard set career lows in yards and carries while missing four games. Tight ends Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft missed most of the season with injuries. CJ Uzomah took advantage of the injuries and was productive with 43 catches and 439 yards. Wide receiver AJ Green finished with career lows thanks to a toe injury that hindered him all year. Tyler Boyd stepped up in Green's absence and finished with 76 catches and 1,028 yards but missed the final two games with a knee injury. John Ross showed some flashes as he finished with seven touchdowns, but the team is still waiting for him to prove he was worth being a first round pick. Right guard Alex Redmond and right tackle Bobby Hart struggled at different times throughout the season.
The defense was horrendous as they finished last in passing yards allowed and total defense. Thing got better after defensive coordinator Teryl Austin was fired, but the damage was done at that point. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap was his usual standout self and finished with eight sacks while Michael Johnson was a colossal failure with half a sack. The linebackers corps couldn't shake the injury bug. Nick Virgil missed five games with a knee injury but still led the corps with 84 tackles. Vontaze Burfict missed the first four games due to a PED suspension then was limited to just seven because of a concussion. Preston Brown missed nine games on the season after never missing one before joining the Bengals. Cornerback William Jackson regained his poise once Marvin Lewis took over the defense. Safety Shawn Williams finished second on the team with 110 tackles which in a way goes to show how bad the defensive line and linebackers performed. Dre Kirkpatrick missed three games due to injuries.
Kicker Ryan Bullock missed only two extra points and four field goals all season and 45 of his 78 kickoffs weren't returned. Punter Kevin Huber punted 71 times on the year with a 39.4 net average. Alex Erickson averaged a career high 10.6 yards on punt returns.
The team produced only one Pro Bowler in defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Anything that went wrong with the defense can't be blamed on Atkins as he led the team with 10 sacks and made his seventh Pro Bowl.
The early picks in the rookie class are future stars, but the later rounds didn't offer much. Center Billy Price played well despite missing six games early with a foot injury. Safety Jessie Bates was productive all hear and lead the team with 111 tackles while also registering three interceptions. Defensive end Sam Hubbard was productive as a reserve with 39 tackles and six sacks. Linebacker Malik Jefferson played in just 10 games before landing on injured reserve with a foot injury. Running back Mark Walton was a disappointment with less than 100 yards from scrimmage in 14 games.
Opponent Passing YPG
Opponent Rushing YPG
After the dumpster fire 6-10 season, head coach Marvin Lewis and team owner Mike Brown mutually agreed to part ways. In 16 years in Cincinnati, Lewis has a 131-122-3 record as head coach, with four division titles, seven playoff seasons, but an 0-7 postseason record. The team waited until after the Super Bowl to hire former Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor to be the team's new head coach.
Under Taylor's new coaching staff, the team hired former Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach to be the new offensive coordinator and former New York Giants defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo was brought in to be the new defensive coordinator.
Notable Additions- DE Kerry Wynn, CB BW Webb
Notable Departures- QB Tom Savage, RB Mark Walton, TE Tyler Kroft, T Cedric Ogbuehi, T/TE Jake Fisher, T Andre Smith, G Clint Boling, DE Michael Johnson, DT Adolphus Washington, LB Vontaze Burfict
Joe Mixon Highlights
2019 NFL Draft
Holding the 11th overall pick in the draft, the Bengals have to make some serious moves if Zac Taylor's first year is going to start on a positive note. They need to draft some upgrades at tight ends, guard, and offensive tackle.
Even though CJ Uzomah was productive last season, Tyler Kroft is now in Buffalo and Tyler Eifert has never been able to stay healthy.
Alex Redmond started most of the season at right guard and struggled with missed blocks and penalties. An upgrade here would be very helpful.
Bobby Hart wasn't good for the Giants in 2017 and was largely useless with the Bengals. A better run blocking right tackle isnneeded to make this offense work.
When it came time to pick, Cincinnati selected Alabama offensive tackle Jonah Williams with the 11th overall pick. Williams was praised for understandings angles and leverage, but was mainly criticized for lack of control on the second level. On June 25, Williams underwent left shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum after he injured the shoulder in OTA's. He is expected to miss his entire rookie season.
Other Notable Draft Picks:
Drew Sample, TE, Washington- Exceptional blocker, lacks great flexibility
Germaine Pratt, LB, NC State- Strongest outside linebacker prospect, very raw in technique
Ryan Finley, QB, NC State- Very intelligent, lacks great arm strength
Renell Wren, DT, Arizona State- Physically imposing frame, lacks football instincts
Michael Jordan, OL, Ohio State- Top run blocking guard with five position versatility, struggles against quicker rushers
Trayveon Williams, RB, Texas A&M- Great receiver out of backfield, lacks patience
Deshaun Davis, LB, Auburn- Power packed frame, surprisingly slow given size
Rodney Anderson, RB, Oklahoma- Knows how to find the hole, Long injury history
Jordan Brown, CB, South Dakota State- Safety like frame, disappointing tackler
Ryan Finley Highlights
What To Expect
The team looks to be changing the philosophy for the first time in a decade and a half, but the road back to the postseason will be long and challenging.
Andy Dalton should return back healthy and will likely benefit under an offensive minded head coach. The team has a nice stable of running backs with Joe Mixon as the feature back. Trayveon Williams will be a nice third down receiving back and Rodney Anderson could be special if he stays healthy. The team signed CJ Uzomah and Tyler Eifert to extensions and drafted Drew Sample with that hope that at least one will be a viable receiver as well as a steady run blocker. AJ Green should be back healthy and should help Tyler Boyd with his growth. The main concern with the receiving corps is depth as John Ross and Alex Erickson are the only other possible playmakers. With Jonah Williams likely out for the season and Clint Boling retiring, the offensive line will be forced to go back to Bobby Hart and Alex Redmond on the right side which will place Michael Jordan as the replacement at left guard.
Sam Hubbard showed enough as a reserve to be a more than suitable replacement for Michael Johnson and should pair well with Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Malik Jefferson will battle with Germaine Pratt to see who will fill the void of Vontaze Burfict. The team should be set in the secondary as Jessie Bates and Shawn Williams made a nice tandem at safety and they have a plethora of cornerbacks to give depth.
With the rise of the Rams the last two seasons, every franchise has been trying to find the next Sean McVay. I'm not sure Zac Taylor is that and even if he is, the rest of the AFC North has vastly improved to the point it will take a couple of seasons for Cincinnati to compete with Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.
Best Record They Can Hope For: 6-10