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5 questions with Cincy Jungle: Is it time for the Bengals to tank?

NFL: NOV 05 Bengals at Jaguars Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Following two consecutive losses, the Jacksonville Jaguars look to bounce back against a winless Cincinnati Bengals team. This is the third time in four weeks the Jaguars play on the road.

This meeting marks the 22nd meeting all-time between the former AFC Central foes, with the Jaguars leading the all-time series 12-9. To help us better prepare for the 2019 matchup, I spoke with Patrick Judis of Cincy Jungle — SB Nation’s go-to source for all things Cincinnati Bengals.

Check out our conversation below:

1. With the Bengals at 0-6, is the team in full tank mode or is Cincinnati still trying to be competitive? What is the best course of action for the remainder of the year in your opinion?

Patrick: They aren’t necessarily in full tank mode. To me, that implies they are ready to trade away all their veterans, but that just isn’t the case.

I think the reality of the situation that their season is over has set in, but this team is still playing hard every week. Unfortunately, due to injuries and holes that were never properly filled during the offseason, they just aren’t very good.

2. What has been the biggest issue(s) with the Bengals this year? Are there any promising signs for the future?

Patrick: It feels like for the past three seasons Bengals’ fans have been citing the offensive line and linebackers as the biggest issues with this team, and when the higher ups decided to re-sign players like Preston Brown and Bobby Hart to longterm deals with close to starter money, it showed they really didn’t understand the issues with this team went beyond Marvin Lewis.

It seems like Mike Brown, his children (who have become very involved in running the team) and Duke Tobin (the Bengals’ general manger who doesn’t get the general manager’s title) wanted to prove they had already constructed a winning team that was only being held back by injuries and Lewis, so they failed to bring in enough quality competition to help create any depth. Now injuries appear to be a leading excuse again. Either way, we have to hope this 0-6 start was a wakeup call that things need to fundamentally change on how this team is constructed in order to compete.

The coaching staff isn’t innocent though. They’ve had a ton of injuries, but they’ve failed to adapt. Last week Alex Erickson, the team’s fourth or fifth wide receiver on the depth chart, played more snaps than Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert, C.J. Uzomah and rookie tight end Drew Sample. All of those names have proved they add play making ability when on the field, and Sample has been an excellent blocker, which could really help a team that is struggling to block anyone.

3. Joe Mixon had a breakout season in 2018 with 1,168 yards, eight rushing touchdowns and a 4.9 yards per carry average. This year, Mixon is averaging just 3.4 yards per carry and 42 yards per game. Is this an issue with offensive line play, scheme, Mixon himself or all of the above? Please explain.

Patrick: I’d say it is a little of all of them. If I had a pie chart, Mixon would by far have the least blame (as he has made some bad reads on occasion) with scheme and talent along the offensive line being a little too hard to distinguish between.

Mixon constantly sees linebackers come through the offensive line untouched, and it is just hard to constantly win that battle as a running back.

When (head coach) Zac Taylor came over from the Rams we thought we’d also see plenty of misdirection built into the running game (like fake jet sweeps), but we have rarely seen the Bengals do this. Instead they opt to seemingly rely on their offensive line to win one-on-one battles, which just isn’t going to happen.

4. What matchup(s) are you looking forward to between the Jaguars and Bengals on Sunday?

Patrick: Honestly, I’m just hoping Mixon or Tyler Boyd can win their matchups enough to make this game look competitive. It was rough watching both struggle for most of last week.

It will also be nice to see Carl Lawson finally be able to rush a passer who isn’t quite as mobile as Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson. He is just getting back to form after coming back from an ACL injury last season and a hamstring earlier this season.

5. From an outsider’s perspective that may not follow the team closely, what are your thoughts on Gardner Minshew II and the 2019 Jacksonville Jaguars? Do you think the Jags are a potential playoff team despite the 2-4 start?

Patrick: I got caught up in the meme of Minshew initially. I believe the joke I made was he Space Jamed Baker Mayfield.

As with most NFL teams, the Jaguars will go as far as Minshew takes them. The defense will probably be better now that the Jalen Ramsey situation isn’t distracting them, but they’ve still shown they can be good at times.

I’d say playoffs may be a little out of reach with the Texans in their division, but Minshew should at least make the team fun to watch.

Bonus: Score prediction?

Patrick: The Bengals have a habit of scoring in garbage time to make games look close. It is great for keeping a team engaged during a tank, but it isn’t great for winning games.

The Bengals have consistently been beaten the same way in most of their games, so as long as Jacksonville does its homework, they should walk away with another win.

Bengals 13, Jaguars 26

Patrick’s insights and analysis on the Bengals are much appreciated. You can follow him on Twitter, and to stay up-to-date on Cincinnati this week, be certain to follow Cincy Jungle as well.