The win against Indy was a real team effort, but a couple of players stood out. We assign grades to the biggest studs and duds from Week 1.
The Bengals pulled out a great win, but not everything is pointing up for the team. Most of the team put together a great effort, but there were a few loose ends that need tying up. There was a reason the Colts were up 23-10 at one point, but the fact that the team recovered so well made up for that start. Let’s see how the team graded out according to us here at Stripe Hype.
Joe Mixon = A+
Mixon was undoubtedly the star of the game as he carried the offense for most of the game. Rushing 17 times for 95 yards and a 1-yard touchdown and catching 5 passes for 54 yards, Mixon was extremely efficient, picking up chunk gains all game. This is the player we have been waiting for, and he looks ready to have a breakout season.
Andy Dalton = B+
Dalton put the team behind the 8-ball early, throwing an interception to set the Colts up in the red zone. However, he recovered nicely after that, playing a really solid game. In the 4th quarter, Dalton had a few nice play extensions too. He wasn’t dynamic, but he looked very solid – much improved on last season.
Offensive Line = B
A shockingly nice performance from the offensive line opened the game up for the Bengals. The run blocking was great all game and the pass blocking was better than last year. They gave up some pressure from Margus Hunt and other, weaker rushers, which isn’t ideal, but this unit is clearly better than last season.
Defensive Line = B
Carlos Dunlap’s performance salvaged this D line’s grade, as he turned on the jets in the second half. However, they couldn’t take advantage of a weak Colts O-line, as they only got two sacks. That allowed Luck to have a clean pocket to dissect the defense. At least the Bengals’ run defense was good, mostly due to Geno Atkins’ domination of Quenton Nelson.
Linebackers = D
I need to shout out Nick Vigil here, who separated himself from the rest of the group. He made some excellent stops in run support. Once Preston Brown got hurt, though, the linebackers really struggled. The Bengals left the middle of the field wide open all day, and the coverage really lacked from guys like Jordan Evans and Hardy Nickerson.
Secondary = all the grades
The secondary was all over the place. Shawn Williams gets an F for making a bone-headed play early in the game. He needs to play much smarter than that moving forward. The cornerbacks as a whole get a B-,as they did a generally good job. William Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick played very nice contain coverage, although the crossing routes got them all day long.
Clayton Fejedelem earns the other A+ for the game, as he filled in for Williams admirably. Not only did he rack up 10 tackles, but he also made the game-saving play. Not to go unnoticed, he also returned the fumble the Dunlap forced when Dunlap was called for roughing the passer. Fejedelem showed how much of a heads-up player he is.
Jessie Bates also gets a shout out for a really solid debut, and an A-. He made several fantastic open field tackles, which was his biggest flaw coming into the league. Bates looks ready to start in the NFL.
Referees = F
The referees nearly blew this game for the Bengals. They made several questionable calls throughout the game, especially some that endangered Dalton. Although Williams’ ejection was legitimate, the Bengals got the short end of the stick from the refs all game long. Dunlap’s roughing the passer – which would have given the Bengals a near-lock touchdown – was just a good football play. Dalton, among other Bengals, sustained several shots to the head throughout the game. The players did not feel like the officiating was fair, and rightly so.