2018 Bengals Season In Review
Zac Taylor named team’s 10th head coach: On Feb. 4, the Bengals named Zac Taylor as the 10th head coach in team history.
Taylor, 35, left the L.A. Rams, for whom he served as an assistant coach the past two seasons, including as quarterbacks coach in 2018. The Rams won the NFC West in 2018 with a 13-3 regular-season record and advanced to Super Bowl LIII against the New England Patriots.
“I am happy and fortunate to join the Cincinnati Bengals as head coach,” Taylor said. “This is a great organization with good people and a rich history, and I am excited to get started. I am looking to add to that history by setting high standards, and holding everyone here accountable to those standards. We’re going to attack every day with enthusiasm to get this team ready to go.”
Prior to joining the Rams, Taylor was an assistant coach with the Miami Dolphins from 2012-15, including a stint as interim offensive coordinator for the team’s final five games of ’15. In 2016, he was offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Cincinnati. He joined the Rams in 2017 as assistant wide receivers coach, then was named QBs coach in ’18.
Taylor played football collegiately at the University of Nebraska. He was the starting QB for the Cornhuskers from 2005-06 and was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year in ’06.
“Zac is a bright coach with an offensive mind and background, which is important to have in today’s NFL,” said Bengals president Mike Brown. “And he’s young. He embraces new ideas and new ways to do things, which will be a good thing for us. I believe our team will be exciting and fun to watch with him at the helm.”
Taylor succeeds Marvin Lewis, who served as Bengals head coach from 2003-18.
Bengals, Lewis mutually part ways: On Dec. 31, 2018, the Cincinnati Bengals and head coach Marvin Lewis mutually decided to part ways after 16 seasons.
Lewis was named the ninth head coach in Bengals history on Jan. 14, 2003. His career record is 131-122-3 in regular season and 131-129-3 including postseason. His total of 131 career victories is the most in team history and ranks tied for 24th in NFL history.
Lewis led the Bengals to the postseason seven times, including a five-year run from 2011-15. The total number of playoff trips and the five-year streak of consecutive appearances are Bengals records, and the Bengals were one of only four NFL teams to reach the playoffs every year from 2011-15. The total of seven playoff appearances in Lewis’ career (since 2003) ranks tied for 10th in the NFL, and the team’s total of six playoff appearances in the last 10 seasons (since 2009) ranks tied for fourth in the league.
Lewis was the consensus choice for NFL Coach of the Year in 2009, when the Bengals won the AFC North Division while sweeping all six division games. The Bengals also were AFC North champions under Lewis in 2005, 2013 and 2015. Lewis coached 21 Pro Bowl players, who made a combined 48 Pro Bowl appearances. He served on the NFL Competition Committee for 12 years from 2006-18.
“I want to thank the Bengals’ organization, the fans and the city of Cincinnati for their support,” Lewis said. “I regret I haven’t been able to provide them with the No. 1 goal of being world champions. I also want to thank our players, coaches and team employees for their effort and professionalism over the past 16 years. A lot of fine people have gone through this building in that time, and the organization is better for all of them having been a part of it.”
Said Bengals President Mike Brown: “The team is very appreciative of all that Marvin has accomplished over the past 16 years. Personally, I am very fond of Marvin and will miss working with him. He is a friend and a colleague, and I thank him for what he has meant to this franchise. But it is time to turn the page and look toward the next chapter for our organization, and we are excited about what the future holds for the team and our fans.”
2019 coaching staff finalized: The Bengals have finalized their 2019 coaching staff, which is led by first-year head coach Zac Taylor. The staff includes 22 assistant coaches and one staff employee.
Here is the 2019 coaching staff (an asterisk denotes a coach who returns from 2018):
- Zac Taylor
- Lou Anarumo (defensive coordinator)
- Bob Bicknell* (wide receivers)
- Joey Boese (strength and conditioning)
- Brian Callahan (offensive coordinator)
- James Casey (tight ends)
- Gerald Chatman (defensive assistant)
- Brayden Coombs* (assistant special teams)
- Mark Duffner (senior defensive assistant)
- Nick Eason (defensive line)
- Todd Hunt (assistant strength and conditioning)
- Daronte Jones* (secondary/cornerbacks)
- Jordan Kovacs (defensive quality control)
- Brad Kragthorpe (offensive assistant)
- Robert Livingston* (secondary/safeties)
- Tem Lukabu (linebackers)
- Ben Martin (assistant offensive line)
- Dan Pitcher* (assistant quarterbacks)
- Darrin Simmons* (special teams coordinator)
- Jemal Singleton (running backs)
- Garrett Swanson (assistant strength and conditioning)
- Jim Turner (offensive line)
- Alex Van Pelt* (quarterbacks)
- Doug Rosfeld (director of coaching operations)
2019 opponents: The Bengals’ home and away opponents for 2019 are set. The full schedule, with dates and kickoff times, will be released this spring.
In addition to their six games against fellow AFC North Division teams, the Bengals and the rest of the AFC North will play against all teams in the AFC East and NFC West divisions.
Cincinnati’s remaining two games — at home against Jacksonville and on the road against Oakland — were determined by the 2018 standings. As fourth-place finishers in the AFC North, the Bengals are matched against the fourth-place teams from the AFC South (Jacksonville) and AFC West (Oakland).
The list of opponents for 2019:
- Home: Baltimore-Cleveland-Pittsburgh plus Arizona, Jacksonville, New England, N.Y. Jets and San Francisco.
- Away: Baltimore-Cleveland-Pittsburgh plus Buffalo, L.A. Rams (game in London, England), Miami, Oakland and Seattle.
Atkins earns seventh Pro Bowl nod: Bengals DT Geno Atkins in 2018 was named a starter on the AFC’s Pro Bowl squad, though he did not play in the game due to an injury. The selection was Atkins’ seventh Pro Bowl nod in his nine NFL seasons, moving him ahead of CB Lemar Parrish (six) for most selections by a defensive player in Bengals history. No other defensive lineman has been selected more than twice.
No other Bengals were selected to play in the game, although four were alternates — S Clayton Fejedelem (first alternate for special teams), WR Alex Erickson (third alternate as a returner), Joe Mixon (third alternate at running back), and A.J. Green (fourth alternate at wide receiver).
Though he was not selected to the Pro Bowl in 2018, Green, who earned a nod in each of his previous seven seasons (2011-17), still stands as the only NFL receiver since the 1970 merger to start his career with seven consecutive Pro Bowl nominations. Green was limited by a toe injury to just nine games this season. He suffered the injury in Game 8 vs. Tampa Bay, missed the next three games, and then re-aggravated it in his return in Game 12 vs. Denver. He was placed on Reserve/Injured on Dec. 5, and ended his season with 46 catches, 694 yards and six TDs.
Green stands as the only Bengal at any position to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons. Only one other Bengal, WR Isaac Curtis, made it for as many as his first four seasons (1973-76). In total Pro Bowl selections, Green and Atkins stand tied for second-most behind Hall of Fame OT Anthony Munoz, who had 11.
A look back at some of Geno Atkins' best photos from the 2018 season.
Bengals career records watch: Here is a look at potential upcoming movement in the Bengals’ career records book (regular season) this season:
- DE Carlos Dunlap has 72.5 career sacks, 11 short of DE Eddie Edwards* (83.5) for the Bengals’ all-time lead.
- DT Geno Atkins has 71 career sacks, 1.5 short of Dunlap (72.5) for second place all-time. Edwards* (83.5) is the Bengals’ all-time leader. Atkins passed LB Reggie Williams (62.5) for third place all-time in Game 2 vs. Baltimore.
*—The NFL has counted sacks as official statistics since 1982. However, the Bengals have sack statistics compiled since 1976 and recognize those sacks recorded from ’76-81 in its records. Thus, please note that, because the NFL has sacks statistics for all teams only since 1982, the Bengals’ sack statistics for players whose careers included seasons prior to ’82 will not be included in league information.
BENGALS FINAL 2018 NFL RANKINGS
SCORING (AVERAGE POINTS):
- Points scored 17th (23.0)
- Points allowed 30th (28.4)
NET OFFENSE (AVERAGE YARDS):
- Total 26th (310.8)
- Rushing 21st (105.1)
- Passing 24th (205.6)
NET DEFENSE (AVERAGE YARDS):
- Total 32nd (413.6)
- Rushing 29th (137.8)
- Passing 32nd (275.9)
- Differential T-15th (plus-1)
Bengals’ O excels in red zone: The Bengals’ offense this season scored TDs on 32 of its 45 trips to the red zone, good for a 71.1 percentage that ranked third in the NFL. It was the Bengals’ best red-zone ranking at year’s end since the 2013 season, when they ranked second with a 73.9 percentage.
Of Cincinnati’s 32 red-zone TDs, 20 came by pass and 12 came via the running game. Five of the passes went to WR Tyler Boyd, five went to WR John Ross, four went to WR A.J. Green, and three went to TE C.J. Uzomah. TE Tyler Eifert, TE Matt Lengel and HB Joe Mixon each had one TD reception apiece. Mixon also had eight of Cincinnati’s 12 rushing TDs in the red zone, while HB Giovani Bernard had three and QB Jeff Driskel has one.
Entering their Week 5 matchup with Miami, Cincinnati had come away with points on an NFL-best 34 consecutive trips to the red zone (25 TDs, nine FGs) dating back to Game 9 of 2017. But an INT on their first red-zone trip vs. Miami ended the streak, which was the team’s longest since 2005-06 (40 straight).
Mixon tops AFC in rushing yards: Bengals HB Joe Mixon finished the 2018 season atop the AFC in both rushing yards (1168) and attempts (237), and now stands as the only Bengals player to ever lead the AFC in rushing in a season (RB Paul Robinson led the AFL in rushing in 1968). The second-year pro, who achieved the feat despite missing Games 3-4 with a knee injury, finished 109 yards ahead of Tennessee RB Derrick Henry (1059) and 131 ahead of Denver RB Phillip Lindsay (1037).
Only four other AFC rushers topped 200 attempts in 2018 — Henry (215), Pittsburgh RB James Conner (215), Houston RB Lamar Miller (210), and New England RB Sony Michel (209).
League wide, Mixon ranked fourth in rushing yards and eighth in attempts, with Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott leading the way in both categories — 1434 rushing yards, 304 attempts.
Mixon’s total of 1464 yards from scrimmage ranked fourth in the AFC and 11th in the NFL. Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill (1630 yards) owns the AFC lead in yards from scrimmage, while Giants RB Saquon Barkley (2028) held the top spot overall.
Mixon this season scored a team-high nine TDs (eight rushing, one receiving). He had four games of 100 or more yards rushing, and seven games of 100 or more yards from scrimmage.
Bates earns Bengals’ tackle title as rookie: With a team-high 111 tackles in 2018, S Jessie Bates became only the sixth rookie to ever lead the Bengals in tackles, and the first to do so since LB Vontaze Burfict in 2012 (127 tackles). Each of the previous five rookies to earn the tackle crown were linebackers.
Bates finished three tackles ahead of fellow S Shawn Williams (108), and 27 ahead of LB Nick Vigil (84).
In a season in which the Bengals were severely hampered by injuries, Bates, a second-round draft pick (54th overall) out of Wake Forest, started all 16 games at FS for Cincinnati and was among the team’s most reliable defenders. Bates’ seven passes defensed included three INTs (second on team), one of which he returned for a TD — a 21-yarder off of Jameis Winston in Game 8 vs. Tampa Bay.
Ross the TD machine: Bengals WR John Ross in 2018 scored seven TDs on 21 catches, good for a 33.0 TD percentage, which is tied for the highest in a season in Bengals history with TE Bob Trumpy in 1976 (seven TDs, 21 catches), and WR Isaac Curtis in 1974 (10 TDs, 30 catches). The percentage also ranks as the highest of any NFL player in 2018 (minimum 20 catches).
But perhaps most surprising was the way Ross scored those TDs. Ross came to Cincinnati as a much-ballyhooed deep threat, after running a record 4.22-second 40-yard dash at the 2017 NFL Combine, however five of his seven TDs in 2018 came inside the 10-yard line, and only one was more than 25 yards.
Here’s a look at the NFL players with the highest percentage of receptions that have gone for a TD (minimum 20 catches).
A look back at some of the best images for wide receiver John Ross in 2018.
Boyd hits 1000 receiving yards: Despite suffering a knee injury in Game 14 that ended his season prematurely, Bengals WR Tyler Boyd (1028 receiving yards) in 2018 notched the first 1000-yard season of his three-year career, the 27th 1000-yard season in Bengals history, and the first 1000-yard season by a player other than WR A.J. Green since 2009 (WR Chad Johnson, 1047).
Boyd reached the mark in the first half of Game 14 vs. Oakland, before leaving with the knee injury, which caused him to miss the final two contests (inactive for Game 15, placed on Reserve/Injured prior to Game 16).
Boyd, Green, Johnson and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh were the only players to reach 1000 receiving yards during the tenure of head coach Marvin Lewis (2003-18).
‘Ice-Water’ Andy: Bengals QB Andy Dalton, whose season ended on Nov. 26 due to a right thumb injury, led four game-winning drives for the Bengals in 2018. His career total of 24 game-winning drives is the most in Bengals history, ahead of the 22 logged by former QB Boomer Esiason (1984-92, ’97).
A game-winning drive is defined as a drive that results in an offensive score in the fourth quarter or overtime that is responsible for putting the team ahead to stay (PATs included).
The Bengals’ record for most game-winning drives in a season is five, set by former QB Jeff Blake in 1996, and then tied by former QB Carson Palmer in ’09.
Since 2011, the year the Bengals drafted him, Dalton has the third-most game-winning drives in the NFL, trailing only Lions QB Matthew Stafford (31) and Saints QB Drew Brees (25).
25 points does the trick: Since 2011, the rookie season of both QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green, the Bengals own a 46-1-2 record (.959) when scoring 25 or more points. Only Miami has a better winning percentage, at .970 (32-1-0), when topping the 25-point mark over that span.
The Bengals were 6-0 in 2018 when scoring 25 points or more, but they were 0-10 when failing to reach 25. They hit the mark in wins over Indianapolis (34-23), Baltimore (34-23), Atlanta (37-36), Miami (27-17), Tampa Bay (37-34) and Oakland (30-16).
Injury tidal wave hits Cincinnati: The Bengals in 2018 faced perhaps the harshest run of injuries in Marvin Lewis’ 16 seasons as head coach (2003-present). Cincinnati finished the season with 18 players on the Reserve/Injured list, including notable names like QB Andy Dalton (thumb), WR A.J. Green (toe), WR Tyler Boyd (knee), TE Tyler Eifert (ankle), TE Tyler Kroft (foot), DE Carl Lawson (knee), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (shoulder) and LB Preston Brown (knee).
Of the 53 players on the roster for the regular-season opener at Indianapolis, 22 missed at least two games due to injury. Fourteen of those 22 players ended the season on Reserve/Injured, and one more — HB Tra Carson (groin) — was waived from Reserve/Injured with an injury settlement on Sept. 28.
The players missing time were valuable ones too — 20 of the 46 Bengals active on opening day (not including Carson) missed at least two games, including 14 who ended the season on IR. Of the 22 players to see at least 50 percent of the snaps on offense or defense in the season opener, 12 missed at least two games, including six who ended up on Reserve/Injured.
Eight of the 11 players listed on the Bengals’ first-team offense on the season-opening depth chart missed at least two games — Dalton (thumb), Green (toe), Boyd (knee), Eifert (ankle), Kroft (foot), LOT Cordy Glenn (back), C Billy Price (foot) and HB Joe Mixon (knee). Two more regular contributors — WR John Ross (Groin) and HB Giovani Bernard (knee) — missed multiple games as well.
Four of the 11 players listed on the Bengals’ first-team defense on the season-opening depth chart missed at least two games — Brown (knee), Kirkpatrick (ankle), SLB Nick Vigil (knee) and WLB Jordan Evans (ankle). Three more regular contributors — Lawson (knee), DT Ryan Glasgow (knee) and CB Darqueze Dennard (sternoclavicular) — also missed at least two games (Glasgow and Lawson landed on Reserve/Injured). Additionally, starting MLB Vontaze Burfict, who missed the opener due to a four-game suspension, missed five additional games in 2018 due to a hip injury and concussion.
The 19 players on Reserve/Injured at the end of the 2018 season was tied for the most of any Bengals team under head coach Marvin Lewis (2003-18), with his 2010 squad. Lewis’ 2007 and ’08 teams each ended their seasons with 17 players on Reserve/Injured, while the ’03 club had 16.
Rookie defenders make their mark: Bengals rookie defenders Sam Hubbard and Jessie Bates made a strong impact in their rookie seasons, with both producing impressive results and playing significant roles on Cincinnati’s defense.
Both Bates, a safety, and Hubbard, a defensive end, scored touchdowns in 2018, marking just the third time in Bengals history that multiple rookies have scored defensive TDs.
Bates, the Bengals’ second-round selection in April’s draft, found the end zone in Game 8 vs. Tampa Bay, when he intercepted a Jameis Winston pass and returned it 21 yards for a TD. It was the first pick-six by a Bengals rookie since Nov. 19, 2006 (S Ethan Kilmer).
Hubbard, a third-round selection in April’s draft, scored when he recovered a Ryan Tannehill fumble in Game 5 vs. Miami. The score came with 2:37 left to play and helped seal a 27-17 Bengals win.
Bates finished the season with a team-high 111 tackles, and his three INTs ranked second on the team. Hubbard totaled 39 tackles, including six sacks, with two passes defensed, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.