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Cincinnati Bengals midseason review: Hot start has cooled off

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Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Bengals have had an interesting first half of the 2018 season, and here’s a midseason report card on the team.

It’s safe to say it has been a wild first half of the regular season for the Cincinnati Bengals, with some exciting moments and last-minute wins. With that, we’ve also seen some all too familiar moments such as finding a way to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers, or getting embarrassed in a prime-time game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

If anyone told fans at the beginning of the season the Bengals would be 5-3 at the midway point of the season. I believe many fans would be jumping for joy with excitement. Yet despite that exact record, excitement seems to be muffled due to the team’s performance over the last few weeks.

Biggest Surprise:

Tyler Boyd, the third-year wide receiver out of Pitt, picked up right where he left off last season in Baltimore. Boyd has shown he can be that true number two receiver opposite of A.J. Green which the Bengals have been looking for since Marvin Jones left.

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  • With 49 receptions for 620 yards and an average of 12.7 yards per catch and 5 touchdowns, Boyd has become what the team envisioned. Boyd on pace for 98 receptions, 1240 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Those numbers most likely would put him in the Pro Bowl.

    Biggest Disappointment:

    Teryl Austin has been the focal point of a defense that could be listed as a disappointment. The Bengals defense was supposed to be the strength of this team, and they have been flat out horrible, being on pace to give up an NFL record for most yards surrendered in a season. According to NFL.com, the Bengals rank dead last in total defense and 29th in the NFL in points given up. This falls squarely on the shoulders of the Bengals new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.

    The Bengals defense has often times seemed very lost and confused all season, routinely allowing receivers to run wide open, with no one even close. The defensive line, which was supposed to be one of the best defensive lines in football, has been very inconsistent and sometimes nonexistent with its pass rush.

    Obviously, the players deserve some of the blame. However, when the entire defense suddenly goes from a strength to the worst defense in the league you have to look at the coaching. Many thought Austin would be an upgrade over Paul Guenther, but I think most fans would love to have Paul Guenther back at this moment.

    MVP:

    Quarterback Andy Dalton has been the saving grace of this team, with Joe Mixon running a close second. While Dalton has cooled down some the last few weeks after a hot start (and still has many of the same concerns that we have always had with him) he has made some big-time throws at the end of the games to win games or put the Bengals in position to win. Andy Dalton currently is on pace to throw 34 touchdowns, which would be a career high.

    Rookie of the Year:

    Safety Jessie Bates is performing like a seasoned pro. The Bengals have a history of finding their best players in the 2nd round, and it looks like they may have struck gold again. Bates is not only the best rookie on the Bengals team, but he is also one of the best rookies in the NFL and should be in the running for the NFL Rookie of the Year.

    With three interceptions already this season, Bates has graded out as one of the top safeties in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus and gives the Bengals something they haven’t had since Reggie Nelson left – a play-making safety.

    The Bengals are sitting 5-3 and are in a good spot for the playoffs. However, if they are going to finish the second half of the season at 5 and 3, they are going to have to get better in a lot of areas. Starting first with the defense.

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