Bengals 2019 Season In Review: Zac Taylor was named the 10th head coach in Cincinnati Bengals history on Feb. 4, 2019. The Bengals finished 2-14 in his first season in Cincinnati, but his first campaign at the helm was marked by injuries before he even completed his first training camp. WR A.J. Green did not play at all in 2019, due to an ankle injury suffered in the team's first training camp practice; OT Jonah Williams, Cincinnati's first-round draft pick who had been slotted to start at LOT, was lost for the season due to a shoulder injury suffered in OTAs; and OT Cordy Glenn, who replaced Williams at LOT, suffered a concussion in the preseason opener and didn't return to action until late November.
After a slow start to the year, the Bengals gained momentum as the season went along and finished with a 33-23 home win over the division rival Cleveland Browns in the season finale. Head Coach Taylor, who has an offensive background and called offensive plays in 2019, helped HB Joe Mixon to 1,137 rushing yards, and WR Tyler Boyd to 1,046 receiving yards in 2019. It was just the 15th time in Bengals history that the team had a 1000-yard rusher and receiver in the same season.
At the top of the list: Here's a look at where the Bengals ranked — both individually and in team categories — among the top 10 in the NFL in 2019.
- First in yards per kickoff return (31.3).
- Sixth in kickoff return yards (625).
- Tied for first in kickoff returns of at least 40 yards (four).
- Tied for sixth in kickoff returns of at least 20 yards (16).
- Tenth in net punting average (42.1).
- Tied for seventh in inside-20 punts (30).
- Second in yards gained per kickoff return (26.0).
- Tenth in yards allowed per kickoff return (21.1).
- Third in average starting field position (26.4).
- Fourth in opponents' average starting field position (23.9).
- Tied for fifth in yards allowed per punt return (5.7).
- Fifth in fewest penalties (93).
- Third in fewest penalty yards (761).
- Fifth in defensive red-zone TD percentage (49.0)
Boyd snags another thousand: WR A.J. Green missed the entire 2019 season due to an ankle injury suffered in training camp, which meant WR Tyler Boyd again was thrust into the spotlight as the Bengals No. 1 WR. But it was familiar territory for the fourth-year pro. Boyd served in the same role the second half of 2018 while Green was out with a foot injury, and he ended the year with a then-career high 1028 receiving yards despite missing the final two games with his own injury. That made him the first Bengal other than Green to top 1000 receiving yards in a season since 2009 (Chad Johnson, 1047).
Boyd again seized his opportunity in 2019, topping the 1000-yard mark for the second consecutive season and finishing with a career-high and team-best 1046 receiving yards (on 90 catches) to outdo his 2018 total by 18 yards.
Boyd stands as one of nine Bengals ever to reach 1000 receiving yards in a season, and one of six to hit the mark more than once. Johnson's seven 1000-yard seasons stand as the most in team history, followed by Green (six), WR Cris Collinsworth (four), WR Carl Pickens (four) and WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (two). WRs Eddie Brown, Tim McGee and Darnay Scott each had one 1000-yard season.
Mixon gets his own thousand: Bengals HB Joe Mixon entered rare air in 2019 when he topped the 1000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season. And as has become customary with Cincinnati's star HB, he did it in style.
Mixon entered Week 17 needing just 25 yards to hit 1000, but he ended up over-delivering with a career-high 162 rushing yards (and two TDs) to help the Bengals top the division-rival Browns. In doing so, Mixon logged the 22nd 1000-yard rushing season in team history (finished with 1137) while joining just four other players as the only Bengals ever to rush for 1000 yards in multiple seasons — Corey Dillon (six times), Rudi Johnson (three), James Brooks (three) and Cedric Benson (three). It was also just the 12th instance, and the first since Benson in 2010-11, of a Bengal rushing for 1000 yards in back-to-back seasons.
Andy earns two Bengals records: Andy Dalton returned to the Bengals' starting QB role in Game 12 vs. the N.Y. Jets, after serving in a reserve role for Games 9-11. And in his first game back, Dalton not only led the Bengals to their first win of the season, he passed former Bengals QB Ken Anderson for a pair of team records.
Dalton, who entered the Jets game tied with Anderson for a franchise-best 197 career TD passes, tossed his 198th career TD in the first quarter when he hit WR Tyler Boyd for a 17-yard score. And then, on the next offensive possession after the setting the TD mark, Dalton completed his 2655th career pass to top Anderson (2654) for the Bengals' all-time lead. (Dalton had actually briefly passed Anderson in Game 8 against the L.A. Rams, when he found WR Auden Tate for a TD with eight seconds left in the game, but the score was taken off the board after replay review deemed it an incompletion.)
Dalton set the records in his 129th career game (all starts) and in his ninth Bengals season, while Anderson played in 192 career games (172 starts) over a Bengals-record 16 seasons. Dalton, who stands second in Bengals history in completion percentage (62.00), tossed the record-setting TD on his 4265th career pass attempt, and set the completion mark on his 4267th attempt. Anderson had 4475 career pass attempts.
Dalton enters 2020 with 204 career TD passes.
Dunlap extends sacks lead on Geno: With a 2.5-sack performance in the 2019 season finale vs. Cleveland, DE Carlos Dunlap (81.5 career sacks) opened up a six-sack margin over DT Geno Atkins (75.5) in the duo's climb up the Bengals' career sack list. Dunlap and Atkins, who rank second and third respectively on Cincinnati's all-time sack list, are both chasing the franchise's all-time leader Eddie Edwards (83.5). So now, as the duo enters 2020, their 11th Bengals and NFL season, the race is on to see who can catch Edwards first.
Dunlap, a two-time Pro Bowler (2015 and '16) who turned 31 after the season, finished '19 with a team-high nine sacks. He entered the year 1.5 sacks ahead of Atkins, but fell behind after missing two games (Games 6-7) due to a knee injury. Dunlap, though, re-took the lead in impressive fashion in Game 12 vs. the N.Y. Jets, when he tied a career high with three sacks. Dunlap has averaged 8.2 sacks over his first 10 NFL seasons, while Edwards averaged just under seven over 12 seasons. In 2015, Dunlap set a career-high in sacks, with 13.5, the second-most in Bengals history.
Atkins, who missed nearly half of the 2013 season with a torn ACL, has more than double the number of sacks of the next-closest interior defensive lineman in Bengals history (Tim Krumrie, 34.5). Atkins finished 2019 with 4.5 sacks, including two multi-sack performances — Game 7 vs. Jacksonville (two), and Game 10 at Oakland (1.5). In 2018, he had a team-high 10 sacks, the third-highest single-season sack total of his career (he had a career-high 12.5 in 2012, and 11 in '15). Atkins has finished with at least a share of the NFL lead for sacks by an interior lineman five times in his 10 NFL seasons (see "Geno falls short of another sack crown").
Atkins earns eighth Pro Bowl nod: Bengals DT Geno Atkins in 2019 earned his eighth career Pro Bowl nomination. The 10th-year pro started at NT for the AFC and made one tackle, helping his team to a 38-33 victory in a game played at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla.
Atkins' eight selections are the most ever by a Bengals defensive player, ahead of Lemar Parrish (six), and the second-most in team history behind former OT Anthony Munoz (11). No other defensive lineman has been selected more than twice. Atkins finished 2019 with 47 tackles, including 4.5 sacks and four tackles for losses.
No other Bengals were selected to play in the game, although two players were selected as alternates — HB Joe Mixon was voted a fifth alternate at running back, and S Brandon Wilson (ended season on Reserve/Injured with a hand injury) was voted a second alternate as a returner.
Bengals draft picks stick in NFL: A familiar trend emerged again in 2019 regarding which teams have the most keen eye for talent in the draft, and the Bengals again were toward the top of the list. As of the end of the 2019 season, there were 43 players on NFL rosters who entered the NFL as draft picks of the Bengals, four shy of Baltimore and New England (both 47) for the most of any team in the NFL.
Cincinnati was among the top three teams all of 2018 as well, and even held a double-digit lead over the second-place team early in the year before 13 qualifying players landed on the Bengals' Reserve/Injured list. Only players on active 53-man rosters are counted in this data.
Of the 53 players on Cincinnati's active roster at the end of 2019, 37 entered the NFL with the Bengals — 27 as draft picks, and 10 as college free agents.
Of the Bengals' 29 draft picks on their roster, four were first-round picks, six were second-rounders, four were third-rounders, five were fourth-rounders, four were fifth-rounders, two were sixth-rounders and two were seventh-rounders.
It should also be noted that the Bengals had 12 former draft picks finish the 2019 season on Reserve lists, including former first-rounders OT Jonah Williams, WR A.J. Green and CB William Jackson.
Check out some of the best celebration images from the Bengals during the 2019 campaign.
Bengals draft first: Barring a trade, the Bengals will have the first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, set for April 23-25.
Cincinnati has made the first selection in the draft three times previously. In 1994, the Bengals used their own pick to select DT Dan Wilkinson of Ohio State. In 1995, the Bengals traded up with Carolina on draft day and selected RB Ki-Jana Carter of Penn State. (The Bengals traded the Panthers the Nos. 5 and 36 selections). And in 2003, the team selected QB Carson Palmer of USC.
In 1984, the Bengals had rights to the No. 1 selection as the result of a 1983 trade of QB Jack Thompson to Tampa Bay. But Cincinnati traded the top pick to New England in exchange for the Nos. 16 and 28 selections. The Bengals chose DE Pete Koch of Maryland at No. 16 and OL Brian Blados of North Carolina at No. 28, and also selected LB Ricky Hunley of Arizona with their own selection at No. 7. The Patriots used the No. 1 pick on Nebraska WR Irving Fryar.
2020 opponents: The Bengals' home and away opponents for 2020 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 South and NFC East divisions.
Cincinnati's remaining two games — at home against the L.A. Chargers and on the road against Miami — were determined by the 2019 standings. As fourth-place finishers in the AFC North, the Bengals are matched against the fourth-place teams from the AFC West (L.A. Chargers) and AFC East (Miami).
Here is the list of opponents for 2020:
- Home: Baltimore-Cleveland-Pittsburgh, plus Dallas, Jacksonville, L.A. Chargers, N.Y. Giants and Tennessee.
- Away: Baltimore-Cleveland-Pittsburgh, plus Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington.
Bengals staff changes for 2020: The Bengals added four assistant coaches to Zac Taylor's staff for 2020 — Al Golden (linebackers), Steve Jackson (secondary/cornerbacks), Troy Walters (assistant wide receivers), and Colt Anderson (assistant special teams). Additionally, Dan Pitcher, who served as assistant quarterbacks coach in 2019, was elevated to quarterbacks coach for '20, and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons added assistant head coach to his job title.
- Golden, 50, spent the last four seasons on the Detroit Lions' staff, coaching tight ends from 2016-17 and linebackers from '18-19. Prior to his time with Detroit, he served as the head coach at the University of Miami (Fla.) from 2011-15, and at Temple University from '06-10.
- Jackson, 50, joins the Bengals after spending the last two seasons (2018-19) as assistant defensive backs coach with the N.Y. Jets. Prior to his time with the Jets, he coached defensive backs with Tennessee (2016-17), Detroit ('13), Washington ('04-11) and Buffalo ('01-03). Prior to his coaching career, Jackson played nine seasons (1991-99) as a defensive back for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans.
- Walters, 43, comes to Cincinnati after spending the last two seasons (2018-19) as the offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach at the University of Nebraska. Prior to his time at Nebraska, he was offensive coordinator at the UCF from 2016-17, and helped the Knights to a 13-0 record in '17. Prior to coaching, Walters was an NFL wide receiver and return specialist for the Lions (2007), Cardinals ('06), Colts ('02-05) and Vikings ('00-01).
- Anderson, 34, was a safety and standout special teams player in the NFL for nearly a decade, spending time with the Vikings, Eagles, Colts and Bills.
- Pitcher, 33, has been a Bengals assistant coach on offense since 2016. He was an offensive assistant with a focus on wide receivers from 2016-17, then an offensive assistant with a focus on quarterbacks in '18. He moved into the role of assistant quarterbacks coach last year.
- Simmons, 46, will be in his 18th season on the Bengals' staff in 2020, and is the team's longest-tenured coach. He has spent his entire Bengals term leading the team's special teams units, and for the last eight seasons has held the title of special teams coordinator.