1 Really cool Cincinnati Bengals, Tour de France parallel

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports)
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports) /

Now that the Tour de France has headed into its second week, it is a good time to consider which Cincinnati Bengals players would hold the various jerseys and titles associated with the most prestigious bike race, the Super Bowl of cycling.

The Yellow Jersey (le Maillot Jaune)

First, let’s start with the most well-known of the Tour de France prizes, the Yellow Jersey, of course. It goes to the best overall rider. In this, Cincinnati Bengals edition of the Tour de France, the man standing at the top of the podium is Jessie Bates. As of now, Bates is the only Bengals player who can be considered one of, if not the best, at his position in the NFL.

At the end of the year, Pro Football Focus ranked the Bengals secondary as with best in the NFL. Subsequently, they named Bates as the highest graded Safety in the league. Here’s a quote:

"Bell finished in the top 15 in PFF grade down in the box while Alexander ranked among the top 15 defensive backs in the slot. Phillips earned the third-highest forced incompletion rate on the outside (21.6%), and Jackson finished above the 70th percentile in outside coverage grade. Bates was the clear-cut top performer of this group. He led all safeties in the NFL in PFF grade and in interceptions plus pass breakups (15)."

Bates is headed into the last year of his contract. As Stripe Hype’s own Leigh Oleszczak points out, the Bengals should not wait around. As the great Russian mobster, Teddy, said in Rounders, “Pay that man his money.”

Here are a few other parallels if you’re a Cincinnati Bengals fan.

The Green Jersey (le Maillot Vert)

The Green Jersey goes to the best sprinter in the Tour, basically, the rider who was the fastest throughout the race. This year, the winner of this jersey has to go to Trey Waynes. First, as far a the 40-yard dash at the combine, Waynes has the fastest recorded time for any Bengals player with a 4.32 second forty. Yes, he is now twenty-eight years old and coming off an injury. However, that injury was not a lower-body injury.

Furthermore, the current holder of the Green Jersey in this year’s Tour de France is Mark Cavendish. The thirty-six-year-old sprinter was completely written off by most of the cycling world. He was not even initially chosen for his team’s Tour roster. Bickering among the team’s number one sprinter and management opened up a spot at the last second for Cavendish. He has taken full advantage of the situation. Hence this strong reaction after the first of his stage wins at this year’s Tour.

This is much in the same vein as Waynes. With the departure of William Jackson to the Washington Football Team, Waynes now has the chance to step into the number-one corner spot and live up to the contract he signed one year ago. Hopefully, he can show off that 4.32 speed this season. And if he does have a Cavendish-like reaction, it will be because he helped lead the Bengals to a Championship.

The White Jersey (le Maillot Blanc)

The White Jersey goes to the best rider 25 years old or younger. The holder of this jersey can also be the holder of the Maillot Jaune. However, for this exercise, we will keep the two separate. So, the winner of this year’s Maillot Blanc goes to Joe Mixon.

Despite missing a lot of time last year, he is still considered by some to be a top ten running back in the NFL. In 2018 and 2019, he rushed for a combined 2,305 yards and 13 touchdowns. He added a combined 100 receptions for 583 yards and four touchdowns. Unfortunately, he missed the majority of the season last year due to injury. However, with a hopefully improved offensive line and good health, many are expecting a bounce-back season.

The Polka-dot jersey (le Maillot à Pois)

The Polka-dot jersey is also known as the King of the Mountains jersey. It is awarded to the “Best Climber.” Who is the best climber is determined by who has accumulated the most points at the top of mountains over the three-week bike race?

King of the Mountains evokes images of a “big” person. The reality, however, is that the Polka-dot jersey is usually won by a lighter rider who can climb better due to carrying less weight than other riders.

But this is football, so we are going to award this jersey using the King of the Mountains moniker. Thus, this year’s Polka-dot jersey must go to D.J. Reader. He is the heaviest member of the Cincinnati Bengals as he is listed at 347 pounds. The team is counting on him to be an immovable mountain in the middle of a Bengals defensive line looking to improve against the run as well as the pass.

That is all for the Jerseys handed out at the Tour de France. Still, there are two more honors handed out at the end of the race.

Team Classification

The Team Classification category is awarded to the best overall team. This is less celebrated than all of the jersey winners, yet it remains highly coveted. In this case, the Bengals who would dawn the white numbers with the yellow trim on the back of their kits would be the special teams unit. Darrin Simmons’ unit ranked first in DVOA in 2019 and ninth in 2020 according to Football Outsiders.

Simmons, the special teams’ coach, has been on the job since 2003. This year, he got a bit of a promotion to Assistant Head Coach. Something that may come into play if the Bengals get off to a slow start this season. He has spent the majority of his Bengals tenure with the same punter and long snapper, Kevin Huber and Clark Harris. Both joined the Bengals and 2009 and have held down their respective positions ever since.

Along with Huber, there is Brandon Wilson, an exciting kick returner who makes fans and opposing teams hold their breath every time he returns a kickoff.

In addition to all of this, the Bengals drafted the first kicker selected in this year’s draft in the fifth round, Evan McPherson. When you draft a kicker in the fifth round, you should expect good things from him.

The Combativity Award

Finally, the Combativity Award goes to the Tour’s most ‘aggressive’ or most ‘combative’ rider which is a subjective prize determined by a jury. For the 2021 season, the Cincinnati Bengals version of this accolade shall go to the fifth overall draft pick, Ja’Marr Chase. Yes, we are all expecting his aggressive, attack-the-ball style play to continue in the NFL. However, this is mainly for his attitude and how he plans to attack the season.

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The young receiver definitely does not lack confidence. He has said several times that he is the best wide receiver in the draft. After being drafted by the Bengals, he let everyone know that he plans on breaking every record the team has. That’s aggressive. Let’s hope he is right.

So there it is. Your 2021 Tour de France, Cincinnati Bengals edition jersey winners. Now we can sit back and enjoy the next two weeks of bike racing around France. Until next time, au revoir.