The Cincinnati Bengals’ Week 13 position grades might surprise you a bit. Despite the Bengals really bad looking 41-22 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, I don’t think they performed all that badly. Sure, there were some really bad aspects and those issues will be reflected in the grades. But, overall, the final score looked worse than the game really was. There are no moral victories in the NFL, but position grades aren’t black and white. So, I think we need a bit more nuance to properly talk about what happened.
Cincinnati Bengals Week 13 Position Grades: Offense
Quarterback Grade: B-
Joe Burrow has been really confusing to get a read on in 2021. He’s been mostly great at driving this offense and helping them put points on the board. In fact, he did that this week with 300 passing yards and two all-purpose touchdowns. He put them in position to score a few more times than that and, unfortunately, was unable to get it accomplished. Had it not been for the killer mistakes, he probably would have deserved a grade in the “A” range this week.
But man those mistakes really sucked. You could make the argument that his first interception intended for Ja’Marr Chase was more on Chase than Burrow. Burrow hit Chase in stride and should have gotten a touchdown instead of a pick. But, that second pick was unacceptable. He must have just not seen Chris Harris right infront of CJ Uzomah.
When he tried to find his reliable tight end in the back of the endzone, it ended up in the defense’s hands and all hopes of making up the 16-point deficit with 8:07 left in the game were basically dead.
I’m not sure why Burrow seems to have a few plays like this every game that potentially doom the Bengals’ hopes. But, it’s starting to become a pattern and that’s a bit worrisome.
Running Back Grade: D+
One unit that really doesn’t deserve much more nuance than they’re already getting is the running backs. I feel I’m giving them a very fair harsh grade in the Week 13 Position Grades because 2.8 yards per carry and a game-ruining fumble from Joe Mixon are absolutely unacceptable.
The one redeeming factor was Mixon and Samaje Perine’s combined 4.7 yards per carry and a touchdown during the team’s mid-game comeback attempt. The problem is those 80 yards and a touchdown accounted for almost all of the unit’s production on the day during a 21.5 minute stretch in the middle of a 60-minute game.
Wide Receiver Grade: C-
Emotionally, I want to give this unit an ‘F’ for Ja’Marr Chase’s absolutely disgusting bobbled deep pass that turned a game-breaking touchdown play into a game-breaking interception. Luckily for them, that’s not how I operate in the Week 13 Position Grades. Tee Higgins’ performance alone deserves commendation. 138 yards and a touchdown on nine catches is pretty impressive, especially considering he’s been struggling to break out this year.
With Tyler Boyd coming close to the 100-yard mark this week as well, it seems like the thought process of “you can’t stop all of us” is starting to come to fruition. Teams are respecting Ja’Marr Chase’s ability to break a game open, so Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd are getting favorable matchups more often. They’re starting to take advantage of some key situations.
But, my god, Ja’Marr. You can’t do this.
Tight End Grade: C-
CJ Uzomah showed up a few times this week to make plays, which is why this unit’s Week 13 Position Grades aren’t too harsh. Drew Sample didn’t get a lot of playing time this week. But, when he did, he performed well as a pass blocker (74.6 per PFF) and ok as a run blocker (59.6). The interception Joe Burrow threw toward Uzomah was 100 percent not Uzomah’s fault. So, I think this unit deserves a coasting grade. They didn’t do much, but they also didn’t screw too much up.
Offensive Line Grade: C-
I really don’t understand, at all, why Jackson Carman is on the bench. Hakeem Adeniji looked like an absolute liability on the field this week. He graded below average in both pass blocking (51.1) and run blocking (48.0). He also was charged with two penalties on the day, one of which was a hold that killed every bit of momentum the Bengals had on a fourth quarter drive.
Joe Burrow ended up making lemonade out of lemons with a 12-yard pass to Tee Higgins that set them up in field goal range. But, I feel like they would have probably gotten a touchdown on that drive and brought the score to 24-20 and taken the lead on the following drive were it not for that hold.
Also, Carman did come in for 11 run blocking snaps this week and graded as the best offensive lineman on the team in those 11 snaps (77.9). Does the coaching staff just not like his attitude? Is he in Zac’s dog house the way John Ross ended up in Marvin’s? The difference is Carman tends to perform well on the field, unlike Ross. So, I don’t understand what’s going on here.
But, I thought the overall unit deserved a bit of a shoutout in the Week 13 Position Grades, at least compared to the talk surrounding them. Adeniji was the only one who graded below average on the day. I’m sure it doesn’t help that Burrow was sacked six times and that’s always going to look like a complete reflection on the offensive line.
Cincinnati Bengals Position Grades: Defense
Defensive Line Grade: B-
For the most part, the defensive line had a good day against the Chargers. Trey Hendrickson, in particular, was constantly in the backfield making trouble for Justin Herbert. He hit the young quarterback twice and brought him down once, in addition to recording three other tackles on the day.
BJ Hill and DJ Reader combined for stifling interior trench play and Josh Tupou even showed up for a nice run stop in the second quarter. Larry Ogunjobi was a bit of a liability though. He did get to the quarterback a couple of times, but he also had an awful miss on one of his two tackling attempts.
Linebacker Grade: A
Overall, a really solid performance from the linebacker corps deserves some love in the Week 13 Position Grades. Without a doubt, this was the best performing unit on the team this week. Germaine Pratt, in particular, might have had one of the best games of his entire career. He received an elite grade from PFF for his performance (90.6) for basically letting nothing happen at the point of attack. Well, other than that one tackle he missed. But, that just goes to show how well he played on his other 61 snaps.
The liability this week was Logan Wilson. He did well wrapping up when he got to the ball carrier. But, too often he looked lost during the day. We’re still waiting for confirmation on how severe the injury that caused him to be carted off the field was. You never want to see that happen, especially for a player who has mostly been really solid all season. But, for the sake of the Week 13 Position grades, it should also be noted that Joe Bachie performed extremely well in Wilson’s absence.
Cornerback Grade: C
Any individual cornerback on the team did not deserve a ‘C’ in the Week 13 Position Grades. The issue is there was a WIDE disparity between the high performers and low performers. Chidobe Awuzie left the game with an injury, although it sounds like he’s going to be fine.
However, when he was on the field, dude was electric. That interception on Justin Herbert at the end of the first half didn’t end up yielding any points. But, it did take a potential score off the board for the Chargers. That ended up being huge for the Bengals comeback that almost was. Aside from that, he only allowed a 58.3 passer rating on the day. Eli Apple also played great. Strangely enough, he is starting to become a reliable No. 2 cornerback for the team.
Safety Grade: D
Overall, Von Bell actually played pretty well this week in every area other than coverage. He was pretty bad in coverage though, allowing a 108.3 quarterback rating. Unfortunately, that’s going to be the biggest judgement on a safety’s performance. Jessie Bates… woof.
He allowed a 158.3 passer rating in coverage this week. I’m starting to get worried about him because 2021 was supposed to be a prove-it year. He hasn’t seemed like he’s proven much other than the Bengals may have been right to withhold a major extension. Perhaps he’s playing distracted because of the contract? I don’t think that’s an excuse though.
Special Teams Grades: F
Perhaps the most Chargers way to lose a game of all time is to do so because the special teams unit was SO BAD. Funnily enough, it was the Bengals who fit that bill this week. Evan McPherson did hit a 48-yard field goal, which was nice. But, he also missed an extra point. Kevin Huber was mostly a liability as a punter all day, only downing one inside the 20. And then, the special teams coverage. Yikes. What are we even doing at this point, guys?
Coaching grade: D-
I felt the Bengals went into this week with a pretty solid gameplan. That’s pretty much where my praise for the coaching staff in the Week 13 Position Grades ends. Some of the way that players were placed on the field made no sense to me through much of the game. The decision to play Logan Wilson on special teams looked really stupid BEFORE the injury.
You have to wonder what Darrin Simmons was thinking on that one. I think Lou Anarumo went into this game with a pretty solid idea of how to handle the Chargers. But, Simmons, Zac Taylor, and Brian Callahan absolutely dropped the ball this week. The offense looked sloppy, unprepared, and regularly in unfavorable positions. That’s definitely not Coach of the Year material.