Bengals head into bye week in search of ‘consistency’

Cleveland Browns' Donovan Peoples-Jones (11) makes a touchdown reception abasing Cincinnati Bengals' Eli Apple (20) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)
Caption
Cleveland Browns' Donovan Peoples-Jones (11) makes a touchdown reception abasing Cincinnati Bengals' Eli Apple (20) during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Credit: Bryan Woolston

Credit: Bryan Woolston

Cincinnati has shown it can play with anyone, but back-to-back bad losses point to lack of execution

CINCINNATI -- Left tackle Jonah Williams said the Cincinnati Bengals showed in the first half of the season they could compete with anyone, but the last two games were an indication the consistency is not where it needs to be yet.

The Bengals spent Monday reviewing film from Sunday’s 41-16 loss to the Browns and will have one practice Tuesday before breaking for the bye week. They resume play at the Las Vegas Raiders on Nov. 21 trying to end a two-game skid.

Cincinnati (5-4) had fallen short against the New York Jets (2-6) in Week 8 after beating Baltimore 41-17 the week before.

“It’s been frustrating because I think as a team we have shown we can beat anybody,” Williams said Monday. “We can be really elite. I just think overall the execution and consistency hasn’t been at the level we expect it to be at. I think that we have shown what we can be. We’ve also shown that when we don’t execute we are going to drop games. So I think going into the back half of the season we really need to step up on the execution standpoint.”

Williams said the win in Baltimore didn’t necessarily show the Bengals were ahead of schedule on where people thought they would be at this point. That gave them their fifth win, surpassing last year’s win total in just the seventh week, but it just showed how in the NFL teams have to play their “absolute best game every single week.”

The last two weeks, the Bengals didn’t do that.

“It’s hard to put my finger on anything super specific (why),” Williams said. “I feel like there is not going to be any pointing fingers or under the bus here. It’s just going to be I think we can all ask more of ourselves individually and as units on this team. It really comes down to the excitement of seeing how good we can be and just the frustration of needing to do this more consistently. It’s a long season we have eight games of the regular season to go. We keep sharpening the sword and we think we can get a lot more consistent in the second half.”

The Bengals will be without their kick returner and backup safety Brandon Wilson for the remainder of the season. Coach Zac Taylor confirmed Wilson tore his ACL when he injured his knee at the end of a kick return Sunday. Linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither also came out of the game with a foot injury and the team isn’t sure how serious it is yet.

To this point, the team has been relatively healthy aside from Xavier Su’a-Filo (knee) being on injured reserve after opening the season as the starter at right guard and cornerback Trae Waynes going back on IR with a hamstring injury after just two games this season.

Taylor said he doesn’t expect Waynes back “right out the gate” after the bye, and the team will give some other cornerbacks looks in addition to Eli Apple, who has been starting in Waynes’ place. At right guard, Jackson Carman was filling in for Su’a-Filo and started five games but was replaced by Hakeem Adeniji as the starter Sunday and didn’t get a snap on offense. Taylor said Adeniji did enough to earn another start.

The Bengals will use the bye to refresh and refocus for the final eight games, which includes three more division games and four games againstAFC West teams, all of which have five wins. The AFC is full of five-win teams that are all hunting for playoff spots, including the Bengals.

“We’re in control of our own destiny really with the way that our schedule is gonna play out, and every team in this league in the AFC right now has faced adversity,” Taylor said. “That’s something you really look at kind of how the season has unfolded for every team in our conference and they’ve had a two-game losing stretch or lost three of four and a win just really puts you right back in the right direction. And so, two losses can sometimes feel like 10, but again, we’ve got to mature enough team to handle it the right way and pull us through this little bit of adversity we’re facing right now and go on the road, get a win and set ourselves back in the direction that we felt like we were in a couple weeks ago.”

Linebacker Logan Wilson said “everything is still in front” of the Bengals and there is still a lot to play for.

“I think our confidence level shouldn’t waver,” Wilson said. “It is the NFL. You’re going to hit adversity at some point in the season. It’s just what’s going to happen, especially during the course of a 17-game season, which is a very long season. We’ve got tough, resilient guys in the locker room. And no one is going to put their heads down and just think our season is over. We still got everything in front of us and everything to play for so, we’re going to get right over this bye week and come back ready to go.”

Next Game

Sunday, Nov. 21

Bengals at Raiders, 4:05 p.m., CBS, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7

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