- Q1 - B+
- Q2 - B+
The cornerback position was a solid part of the defense through the second quarter, however with the injury to Awuzie and the lack of moves made during the trade deadline to try and make up for his absence, this grade will probably drop off a cliff in the coming weeks.
They've managed to help hold opposing passing attacks back thanks to the likes of Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, and even Eli Apple (at times), and looked good through Weeks 5-8. However, the true test for them comes moving forward -- Can they bounce back after losing Awuzie?
Awuzie has been the best corner for this team, no doubt about it, and his injury brings an issue that has been present since before the season started into the spotlight -- Lack of cornerback depth.
One of my biggest issues with the cornerback core was lack of turnovers created and with their lack of depth now fully exposed, I expect that issue to persist. Cam Taylor-Britt has struggled, but he's a rookie and, despite everything, I did see some promise from his last night. Struggles are expected, let's just hope he'll be able to develop past them in the future.
- Q1 - A+
- Q2 - A+
Even if you're part of the group that doesn't believe Bates has played up to standard, it's safe to say Bates and Bell have been the best part about this defense. Bell has arguably been the best player on the defense as a whole, currently tied in the league for most interceptions, and is always getting to the guy with the ball.
I will admit, Bates isn't performing as well as I would've hoped, but he (along with Bell) has been a good last line of defense for this defense, as they have both helped stopped big plays going for even bigger gains. Being the last guy and making those tackles is the difference between the opposing offenses scoring a touchdown, and ending up settling for a field goal.
One thing though is I would like to see more snaps from Dax Hill moving forward since it's almost a certainty that Bates will be gone next season and he'll likely be filling in for him. I'd rather have him learn the ropes this year, a year that the Bengals almost certainly are not reaching the Super Bowl, than next year when we *potentially* have a better team more equipped to deal with injuries.
Still, Hill's lack of snaps is not enough to bring the safeties grade down, as I feel both Bates and Bell have played at a high level this season, even if I believe Bates is capable of doing even better.