Bengals prove to be miles away from competing in the AFC North
A week ten loss against the undefeated Pittsburg Steelers demonstrated just how far away the Cincinnati Bengals are from competing in the AFC North.
Optimism that the Cincinnati Bengals could keep an AFC North clash against the Pittsburg Steelers interesting came crashing down shortly after kickoff. In week nine, Mike Tomlin’s undefeated squad looked vulnerable against a lackluster Dallas Cowboys team but that line of thought was quickly put to rest this week as Zac Taylor’s club was trounced.
Inexcusable special teams play, disappointing turnovers, and undisciplined penalties were the difference between the two franchises on Sunday afternoon. Granted, a depleted secondary, injury-riddled defensive line and absent assistant coaches also helped widen the gap.
Regardless, Cincinnati’s sixth loss (fourth within the division) demonstrated just how far away the organization is from competing in the AFC North.
Pass rush deficiency, secondary blunders locking the Bengals in AFC North cellar
Some of the Bengals’ worst deficiencies are coming from areas that were expected to be fields of strength entering the season. At this point, the pass rush is non-existent and the secondary cannot be relied on to prevent massive plays down-field.
Some of these issues will get better once Cincinnati gets back players like Trae Waynes and D.J. Reader next season. However, even with the return of those free-agent acquisitions, the Bengals still need serious help in those departments.
William Jackson was supposed to be the strength of the corner position, especially with his fellow starters injured. That wasn’t the case against Pittsburg, as he was picked on often throughout the contest.
As the season wears on, the once-promising defensive back is beginning to give up explosive plays more and more often. Whether that’s due to scheme, disappointing play, or his reported openness to a change of scenery remains to be seen.
Jackson has long been looked upon as the central point of the corner position. However, his impending free agency once the season is up, combined with the play throughout the current campaign, leaves plenty of question marks as to how Cincinnati will defend the pass in the coming years.
The Bengals added pass rusher Takk McKinley this past week but it’s doubtful his presence alone is enough to consistently put pressure on the passer. With the departure of Carlos Dunlap and the decline of Geno Atkins, reinforcements are desperately needed.
At the very least, Cincinnati’s front office is getting a better idea of the work they need to do in the offseason. As things stand, their to-do list is growing in length with each passing divisional matchup.
Joe Burrow and the Bengals will attempt to remove the painful sting of this blowout loss as they gear up to play the Washington Football Team in the coming week.