Bengals’ Winners and Losers vs. Panthers

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Oct 12, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals kicker Mike Nugent (2) reacts to missing a field goal in overtime against the Carolina Panthers at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals and the Panthers tie in overtime 37-37. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Loser – Mike Nugent

An obvious pick here, yet there is more than one “loser” regarding this situation. Mike Nugent has been, at best, an average to below average kicker throughout his Bengals tenure.  He offers very little range and has to often left the Bengals wondering whether to kick a field goal or go for it on fourth down.

Yesterday was the most glaring example of Nugent’s lack of ability. When the big moment came, Nugent folded missing a 36-yard field goal as time expired; a kick that wasn’t even close from a relatively close distance.

To be fair here, Nugent hardly cost the Bengals the game.  The Bengals’ defense was relentlessly porous and gave up 37 points, but we’ll discuss that later. For now, Nugent continues to be a letdown in the kicking game.

With a chance to absolve himself of his many mistakes this year, Nugent squandered the opportunity.  Watching him line up the kick, you couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy about the result.  Nugent is now 11 of 17 on the year and seven of 13 on kicks beyond 30 yards.

But this blame also falls with the Bengals’ upper management and coaching.  The past two years they’ve tried out a former All-American kicker and punter in Quinn Sharp and, just last week, had a chance to sign Matt Prater, who admittedly struggled in his first game with the Lions when missing 50 and 44-yarders, but making a 52-yarder.

Regardless of the performance from potential other kickers, the larger point here is the loyalty the Bengals show to players.  It’s an admirable quality that, in part, probably helped turn the culture of this team around in recent years.  But loyalty to a fault can also hamper this team and Nugent is doing just that.

Being loyal to guys is fine in situations such as Devon Still’s and maybe when a player finds some trouble off-the-field, but not holding players accountable when they are lacking skill on the field is entirely different.  Maybe it even contributes to the team’s poor performances during big moments. The Bengals need to find a better balance of supporting their guys while holding them accountable.  That effort needs to start with Nugent who should’ve run out of “chances” a long time ago.  Hold your players accountable, Marvin.  Maybe then you’ll find more urgency when it matters most.