5 biggest questions Bengals hopefully answered during BYE week

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals entered their BYE week on a two-game skid that has caused them to fall into last place in the AFC North even with a 5-4 record. Cincinnati remains 2-1 against divisional opponents and will be in a tight race once they play again.

So how can the Bengals fix and answer their woes during the bye week, and what are the issues they need to address?

Bengals BYE week questions

5. How can they get Tyler Boyd more involved?  

The Cincinnati Bengals have struggled to get Tyler Boyd involved in the offense this season, and if things keep up the way they are, Boyd probably won’t crack 1,000 yards. So far this season, Boyd had 409 receiving yards and has only found the end zone twice.

Last week against the Cleveland Browns, he only saw a total of three targets and had one reception for 11 yards. Boyd is the starting slot receiver for Cincinnati, and over the past 3-4 years, he has been one of the most targeted receivers on the entire roster. The Bengals offense needs to get Boyd involved to reach its full potential as a team and as an offense.

This past week, when Zac Taylor was asked about the lack of targets for Boyd, he blamed himself for not getting Boyd more targets and involved mores. It will need a complete team effort. Boyd needs to create space and get open, Joe Burrow needs to look his way and give him targets, and Taylor needs to put both of them in a position to be successful as a duo.

This will be a vital question that the Bengals need to figure out moving forward because Boyd is way too talented to see a good number of targets consistently. If he isn’t, It allows the defense to zone in on Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, and that’s when forced throws and turnovers occur, as we saw in the blowout loss to the Browns.

Trey Hendrickson,  Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Trey Hendrickson,  Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Bengals BYE week questions

4. What has happened to the defense? 

The Cincinnati Bengals defense started the season rated as one of the best in the league. Although over the past two weeks, the Bengals defense have allowed 34 and 41 points and have had excessive trouble tackling and being on the same page.

The Bengals are simply not applying pressure, and the run defense is getting pushed back from opposing offensive lines. Nick Chubb ran for over 120 yards and averaged over 11 yards per carry, which can’t happen if the Bengals want to win football games.

Cincinnati needs to get back to doing the little things like filling holes, wrapping up, firing off the snap, and gang tackling. They also cannot be blowing coverages and leaving receivers will plenty of space to run. If Cincinnati is applying pressure, it will completely change the complexion of the defense and the way they all play.

When opposing quarterbacks have 3-5 seconds to throw every time in the pocket, it will allow the secondary to break down. This will be one of the most prominent question marks next week in a road matchup against an excellent Raiders team.

Which Bengals defense will show up?

Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) – Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /

Bengals BYE week questions

3. How to limit Joe Burrow’s interception woes? 

Joe Burrow leads the league in interceptions currently, although he has had problems throwing interceptions this season, especially as of late, throwing at least one pick in five straight games. However, I don’t think this is any cause for concern because so far in Burrow’s young career. He has 33 total touchdown passes and 16 interceptions, so he’s still on the positive side of the spectrum.

I feel he often forces passes to Ja’Marr Chase, and a lot of times, they result in tight windows and tip passes that get picked off. Burrow needs to do a better job spreading the wealth, especially with Tyler Boyd, as I already discussed.

If the Bengals can get all of their weapons involved, Chase will open up more space to find his spots and keep defenses on their heels. The Bengals have a very predictable offense currently, and that could be one of the critical issues these turnovers are happening at such a rapid rate.

Burrow will miss throws and make mistakes at times because he is still a very young signal-caller, and those things happen, but it shouldn’t be happening consistently game after game. This will be a critical question for the Bengals to answer during practice and in the film and meeting rooms this week.

Zac Taylor, Cincinnati Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor -Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

Bengals BYE week questions

2. Is play calling an issue? 

A lot of speculation has been made around the play calling and if it is an issue or not. Joe Burrow currently leads the league in interceptions like the previous slide details, but he also is at the top in touchdown passes. The inconsistency of the offense is what brings up the controversy.

The Bengals offense has moments where it looks as if it can keep up with any team at any moment as they did against Baltimore. Still, other times it seems completely stagnant, the play calling looks pretty predictable, and they’re not executing.

This could fall on the shoulders of a few people. This mostly includes Zac Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan but with Burrow having the keys to change the play call at the line of scrimmage after he reads and scans the defense, he also contributes to the problem.

Overall, the Bengals offense is not bad by any means, and they rank as one of the better offenses in the league. Still, it is the consistency that needs to be improved, which should be emphasized in practice until the game next Sunday in Las Vegas.

Eli Apple, Cincinnati Bengals  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Eli Apple, Cincinnati Bengals  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Bengals BYE week questions

1. Is it time to give Tre Flowers or Vernon Hargreaves a chance? 

Eli Apple has been the cornerback to fill in for Trae Waynes and to say he has struggled would be an understatement. After being blown by on a 60-yard touchdown from Donovan Peoples-Jones in the second quarter, it put into perspective why the Bengals needed a new cornerback until Trae Waynes is back (or IF Waynes is back, rather).

The Bengals recently signed Vernon Hargreaves lll and Tre Flowers, who have produced at a higher level than Eli Apple over the past 2-3 seasons. However, it’s time that the Bengals try someone new, starting alongside Chidobe Awuzie.

Heading into the most extensive stretch of the season, the margin of error for Cincinnati is slim. If Apple is blowing coverages and picking up costly penalties, it will set the Bengals back.

This week, Hargreaves will likely be activated to the 53-man roster, and Tre Flowers already has been for a few weeks now so it wouldn’t shock me to see Lou Anarumo change against the Las Vegas Raiders after the BYE week.

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Fingers crossed that the Cincinnati Bengals answered these questions and are a better team coming out of the BYE!