The Cincinnati Bengals rank 28th against the pass this year, allowing 8.5 YPA, and have been torched by every quarterback they’ve faced, including Brandon Weeden, who completed 26 of 37 for 322 yards and 2 scores against them, which represents by far his best statistical game of the season. Injuries have been a huge part of the problem. Cornerbacks Jason Allen and Dre Kirkpatrick have been injured, as has top pass rusher Carlos Dunlap. However, the injury situation has just been getting worse.
Dre Kirkpatrick remains out. Jason Allen and Carlos Dunlap returned last week, but the former lasted just 3 plays before reinjuring himself. He won’t play this week and most likely neither will cornerbacks Leon Hall and Nate Clements. Hall, who tore his Achilles last November, didn’t play last week and is unlikely to play this week. He made a very quick return for his torn Achilles and now is having problems in that same leg, so it’s very possible he came back too quickly. Even before he started missing games, he was getting torched uncharacteristically.
Missing Hall, Clements, Allen, and Kirkpatrick, the Bengals are now missing their top 4 cornerbacks, as well as rookie Shaun Prater, a 5th round pick who has been on IR all year. That leaves the Bengals to start Terence Newman and Adam Jones at cornerback this week with Chris Lewis-Harris working in sub packages. The undrafted rookie Lewis-Harris was just called up off the practice squad this week and could see a serious role this week in his NFL debut.
The good news is that Dunlap came back last week and didn’t have to leave with injury, like Allen. He and Michael Johnson combined for 14 total pressures, including 4 sacks. Dunlap is a great pass rusher, but that game by Johnson was inconsistent with what he normally does so it’s very likely that will be by far the best game of his season. It definitely helped that they were facing Washington’s offensive line, which struggles to begin with and then lost stud left tackle Trent Williams early in the game. This week, they face the Jaguars, who have had their issues in pass protection this year, but they return 2 starters, left guard Eben Britton and right tackle Cameron Bradfield, from injury in this one, which should help.
If Blaine Gabbert can get time, he should be able to move the ball on this pathetic, banged up secondary. He’ll also be aided by what should be a strong performance from Maurice Jones-Drew because the Bengals rank dead last against the run, also thanks to injury, but also some general underachieving in their front 7. This week’s game in Jacksonville isn’t as big as a lock as people think (the public is pounding Cincinnati) and given how well home dogs (which is what Jacksonville is) are playing this year and how much the public is getting killed this year (4-12 on heavy leans), the Bengals should be on upset alert this week.