As I trudged down Wembley Way last Sunday, black and orange was very much visible. An 0-7 team soon became an 0-8 team and the benching of nine year starting quarterback Andy Dalton soon followed.
Zac Taylor’s team showed glimpses of competency. A running game was visible in the first half and the defense created opportunities in the second. Ultimately though, the Bengals have succumbed to the fact that this is a lost season. They will now see what they have in rookie fourth round draft pick Ryan Finley.
Positives on the field included Auden Tate continuing his breakout season as he compiled more stunning catches. There was also Joe Mixon and Sam Hubbard having their best games of the year. However, the incompetency of the injury riddled secondary was too great to overcome, as Cooper Kupp ate the lunches of both B.W. Webb and Tony McRae.
West London did show that the franchise has a wide community of passionate fans that lined the streets before kickoff. It must be stated that British based Bengals fan group WhoDeyUK did a fine job of organizing events. Examples of this included fan engagement with announcers Dan Hoard, Dave Lapham and franchise legend Ken Anderson as well as a mass Who Dey chant outside Wembley Stadium prior to the game.
A recent Jason La Confora article has highlighted the front office’s long withstanding unwillingness to participate in trades. This is a mindset that is highly frustrating in the current forward thinking and trade conscious NFL.
The Bengals have plenty of respected veterans that many see as having short term value. These are players such as Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, A.J. Green and, if the decision had been made earlier, Dalton. All would have attracted potential suiters.
Unfortunately, ownership appears to have their mindset regimented and many Bengals fans worry that after December, the excuses of injuries to Jonah Williams, Cordy Glenn, and Green will be used as a scapegoat for a poor year.
One underlying thing was very much apparent to me on Sunday. Despite the franchise having a year to forget on the field and the front office following an ethos that many find antiquated and backward, thousands of Bengals fans were in attendance in some capacity on Sunday celebrating their team thousands of miles away from home. This is something truly special. Hopefully, it will not be overlooked by those in charge.