Bengals players who need to perform better after the bye week

Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys
Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys / Wesley Hitt/GettyImages

The BYE week is here for the Cincinnati Bengals and with it comes a time to reflect on the team. There have been a fair share of players who have not performed well through the first nine games of the season and that's what we're going to discuss in this article.

Let's check out members of the Bengals who need to play better after the BYE week is in the books.

All grades courtesy of Pro Football Focus

Jonah Williams

This was a key season for Williams because it was going to answer the question if the former first-round pick could be the long-term answer at left tackle. The answer, at least through nine games, has been a resounding NO.

Williams leads the league in sacks allowed with nine and his PFF grades aren't great. His overall grade sits at 58.6 and his run-blocking grade is a measly 49.8, which is less than ideal.

While Williams' fifth-year option was picked up for 2023, he's shown this season that he hasn't improved enough to be the left tackle of the future for the Bengals. He still has eight games left to bunk that notion though.

La'el Collins

On the other side of the line, we have Collins, a player the team scored in free agency. It was an exciting move when it happened but now we're starting to see why the Cowboys released Collins in the first place. He hasn't been very good through nine games in Cincinnati, notching an ugly 48.5 pass-blocking grade from PFF.

Having one offensive tackle playing poorly is bad enough on its own but the Bengals are in a bad situation where both of their tackles are not playing well. Collins was considered a huge get when the team managed to sign him this past offseason but he's not living up to the bill right now.

Evan McPherson

This time last year, we were all gushing over the Bengals' new kicker because he was a rockstar during his rookie year. He had a rough go of it against the Packers in Week 5 but Mason Crosby also struggled in that game so that shows that it wasn't just on McPherson that day.

McPherson kicked the Bengals into the AFC Championship Game and into the Super Bowl and became a household name as a kicker. That's pretty hard to do these days!

This year, however, McPherson isn't the clutch kicker he proved to be as a rookie. He's just 4-of-7 on kicks from 40-49 yards and his field goal percentage for the year is at 73.3. He's also missed two extra-point attempts, which is all that he missed in the entire 2021 campaign.

Maybe McPherson is experiencing a sophomore slump but whatever is going on, hopefully, he figures it out and goes back to the 2021 version of Money Mac. Right now, he's not living up to that nickname.

Kevin Huber

Cincinnati loves Huber and most fans would have loved for the long-time member of the Bengals to get a Super Bowl ring but... it just isn't working out this year. The 37-year-old punter has shanked several punts this season and clearly isn't the weapon the team needs him to be on special teams.

Darrin Simmons hasn't ruled out a switch to Drue Chrisman, who the team has kept stashed on the practice squad since last year. It felt like Chrisman was going to get the nod this year but Huber opted to return and won the job over the former Ohio State punter.

If Huber is given an opportunity to redeem himself after the BYE, he has to be better. His ship might have already sailed though.

Eli Apple

After getting benched a few weeks ago, Apple has now been thrusted back into the Bengals starting secondary due in large part to injuries. Chidobe Awuzie is out for the year and Mike Hilton was out this past week with a finger injury so Apple joined Jalen Davis and Cam Taylor-Britt as the starting cornerbacks.

Fortunately, the Bengals faced a trash Panthers team but their schedule is getting tougher after the bye and Apple needs to be ready for the challenge. His 43.5 PFF grade in coverage will not be enough if this team wants to make it to the playoffs.

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Which other members of the Cincinnati Bengals need to play better when the team returns from the BYE week?