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What did the Bengals’ loss to the Vikings reveal?

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 17: Shawn Williams #36 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball after intercepting Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter of the game on December 17, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 17: Shawn Williams #36 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball after intercepting Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings in the fourth quarter of the game on December 17, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Week 15 was the third straight poor performance from the Cincinnati Bengals. With two weeks left, things could get interesting.

Week 15 was a forgettable one indeed. The Bengals took a trip to Minnesota and promptly got pounded by the Vikings. In most losses, there’s a fine line between what can be considered highlights and what’s plain garbage. In the case of Cincinnati against their second NFC opponent, the pickings are slim to none. The Bengals were dominated and downright outplayed.

In fact, the Bengals looked so bad against Mike Zimmer’s Vikings, the game should’ve been called at halftime. Down 24-0, there was absolutely zero probability for the Men in Stripes to get back into the game. But, any diehard Bengals fan knows the routine. If it can be stomached, always look directly at the train wreck to see what else can go wrong. But, the bottom line is what was revealed and learned from the Week 15 smashing.

Zimmer would look good as the Bengals’ HC

Laugh and make jokes, if you must. But, Zimmer would be the hard-nosed coach that could get things turned around in Cincinnati. There hasn’t been a coach like him walking the sidelines in a long time. In fact, watching him work the refs and looking at his demeanor is like a cross between Paul Brown and Forrest Gregg. He has that cool and laid back look. But, you really know he’ll blow a gasket if something isn’t done correctly. 

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The Vikings are a complete team. That’s something the Bengals haven’t been since the 2015 season. Defensively, they shut the Bengals down. To be real, that wasn’t very hard to do. Offensively, the Vikes were able to hit Paul Guenther and the D in the mouth. Granted, there were a good number of rookies patching holes for the Bengals. But, good coaches adjust and find a way to make things work.

Minnesota plays a fast, tough brand of football that Cincinnati hasn’t played in what seems like eons. If this is the kind of team Mike Brown wants, he’ll have to allow some decisions to be made without his hand in the cookie jar.

Stop letting the good coaches walk

This is a simple but confusing ideology that the Bengals franchise seems to dismiss. Again, simply put, keep the men who make a difference in the play of the guys on the field.

With the impending dismissal or firing of Marvin Lewis, there’s a sudden sentimentality towards the coaches that used to be part of the Cincinnati Bengals fabric. There’s talk of Jay Gruden or Hue Jackson coming back. Um, earth to anyone thinking this way. It ain’t gonna happen. Let those thoughts burn in the tar pit. 

Mike isn’t going to give top dollar for any coach worth his weight in AFC Championships. We’ll be lucky if he finds a college guy eager and desperate enough to want the gig. Then, there’s the issue of respect. Players are big kids at times. They need to be scolded and praised.

There’s a delicate balance to doing it. Jackson was able to motivate his offense while he was around. Zimmer did the same with the defense. On the other hand, Marvin “It’s-not-my-job-to-motivate” Lewis has become adept at throwing players under the bus. He’s angry because he lost the team years ago. The respect level has reached empty. He’s not even running on his own gas.

Marv still has no clue

Even if the news about leaving is well-known, don’t talk about it before a huge game. Midway through the Vikings stomping the Bengals, it was apparent something was wrong. The players are usually flat when there’s a big game. That’s a Lewis specialty. But, the listless, uninspired mess of Week 15 was due to Marvelous Marv’s goof up. Yes, players have social media accounts and they follow sports outlets. Geez, man.

It’s going to take a ton of apologies for the players to get over this last screw-up. It’s easy to forget that those men on the field have feelings. Yet, their leader felt like he had to channel the insensitivity of Brian Kelly.

Dalton has to be reprogrammed

Whatever Jackson did to bring out the leader, precision passer and thinker in Andy Dalton is MIA. Brown needs to pay the man for the Madden codes to unlock the 2015 version again.

The confidence level of The Ginger has disappeared. True, there have been breakdowns in the supporting cast. But, eventually, Andy has to understand that he has to win games on his own. Under Hue, he stopped staring down receivers and throwing to A.J. Green in double and triple coverage. Now, he’s back to his old ways.

Next: Is It Time For A Reboot?

If the Bengals refuse to take a quarterback in the upcoming draft, they should at least get Dalton an O-line and give him a few extra seconds to pass. Watching him run for his life was painful. And speaking of running, Lazor could toss in a few QB runs to spice things up and keep the D honest. But, that thumb injury still hangs over PBS. Just saying.

Week 16 should be just as revealing.

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