After week 5, the Bengals were 4-1. They sat on top of the AFC North. It was looking like things were finally going to change. They lost a couple big games, and the season has fallen out of hand. They sit at 5-6, sit at 3rd place in the AFC North, and mentally, they are nowhere near to a playoff team.
Earlier this week, Andy Dalton was announced that he has been put on the IR. That’s the final blow to the Bengals season. This might be one of Marvin Lewis’s worst years as the Bengals head coach. Not his worst year record wise, because he has had worse records in the past. This might be his worst year because of how much of a letdown this season has been. Early in the year, the Bengals looked really good. Andy Dalton looked like a whole new quarterback, their offensive line wasn’t giving up pressure every play like the previous year, the defensive line looked as good as advertised, and it seemed like Marvin Lewis was actually being a good coach. But they then loss to the Steelers, got blown out by the Chiefs, and then everything exploded from there. Adversity hit the Bengals, and Marvin went back to his old, average, safe ways. They were mathematically still in the playoff race, but it seems like losing Andy Dalton in the loss against the Browns is the final blow.
Getting back on track, the Bengals probably weren’t making the playoffs regardless. Andy had arguably his best game of his career against the Atlanta Falcons. Since then, he has disappeared. Andy has never been a quarterback to elevate a teams play. So, when the Bengals suddenly started playing bad, so did he. The Bengals were(as I previously said) playing to a point where they were not going to make the playoffs. The team just didn’t have it. Losing your starting quarterback doesn’t help.
The Bengals are now relying on a quarterback named Jeff Driskel. He was a 6th round pick in the 2016 draft. He played college at Louisiana Tech. Driskel is a very athletic quarterback who can provide a lot of upside. He has a big arm, he’s very mobile, and has the ability to keep plays alive. Unfortunately, there was a reason why he was a 6th round pick. Despite his big arm, his accuracy beyond 15 yards is shaky. He sometimes tried to be too mobile, and he’ll run into a sack. His decision making isn’t great either. Luckily, he will have some help around him. AJ Green can catch about anything, and Joe Mixon can take some pressure off of him. He is behind a bad offensive line, and that won’t help him.
Regardless, Jeff Driskel won’t have to just play good to keep the Bengals playoff hopes alive; He needs to play great. The team is in a slump, and everyone has played bad. In these situations, it takes a great quarterback to lead the team. It’s really hard and unrealistic to expect a backup quarterback to do that. So, unless Driskel miraculously finds a way, the Bengals season is likely over.