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Scouting the Browns’ Week 14 opponent: Cincinnati Bengals - Our Q&A with Cincy Jungle

We ask about the return of Andy Dalton, the Bengals’ defensive improvements over the past three weeks, what is going on with A.J. Green, and more.

Cleveland Browns v Cincinnati Bengals

On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ take on the Cincinnati Bengals. To help preview a few topics from the Bengals’ perspective, we reached out to Patrick Judis from Cincy Jungle and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!

New York Jets v Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton returned last week to give the Bengals their first win of the season.
Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

Chris: “Are you glad that Andy Dalton is back under center for Cincinnati? What is the future of the QB position for the Bengals in 2020?”

Patrick: “Considering Ryan Finley’s outings as a starter, it didn’t make sense to continue to trot him out there. It was to the point you couldn’t evaluate anyone on the offense because the rookie was struggling so badly. He was consistently late on throws, and with his lack of arm strength, it made it hard for him to complete any passes. Add in the fact teams would dare him to beat them deep, so they’d stack the box and make it impossible for Mixon to create almost anything in the running game, and it is nice to see Dalton back out there.

Overall, I hope Dalton play well enough to increase his stock going into the offseason, but the only way Dalton should be back in 2020 is as an understood bridge quarterback who forces whichever rookie quarterback they end up with to win the job. Dalton is good enough to be a starting quarterback for a team that is already constructed in need of a quarterback, but he just doesn’t fit the long term rebuilding vibe Cincinnati is looking at.”

New York Jets v Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals’ defense has gained some confidence.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Chris: “Even though the Bengals’ defense does not rank well statistically on the season, they are only allowing 13 points per game over their last three contests. Has Cincinnati’s defense found its ground -- and what is the unit’s biggest weakness?”

Patrick: “It is hard to say what has been the difference in this defense has been since the bye week. Overall, they are playing harder and with more effort. Their coverage has been better as well. It could be players like pass rusher Carl Lawson and cornerback Darqueze Dennard coming back from injury, but its just seems like it is more than that. It just seems like they all got tired of being told how bad they were. Also Preston Brown getting waived and not playing has certainly helped coverage.

As far as weaknesses, the rushing defense can still be taken advantage of if the running back can get outside. Also if Nick Vigil is isolated in the open field that is a mismatch that the Browns should take advantage of every time, but that has been harder and harder to do over these past three weeks.”

New York Jets v Cincinnati Bengals
A.J. Green will remain sidelined.
Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

Chris: “Can you summarize the whole A.J. Green situation for us concisely? And is there any chance he randomly plays this Sunday against the Browns?”

Patrick: “So when Green was initially injured his ankle, it wasn’t thought to be as serious as it obviously became. Throughout this process Green has maintained that he wants to be here as long as the Bengals want him. The whole “Green wants out” seemed to be fueled by outside media (I’m sure Browns fans can relate to seeing that considering the recent Odell Beckham Jr. saga). When Green was set to comeback his ankle had a setback with swelling, so he is taking the long term approach to healing it. It doesn’t make sense to rush him onto the field for a team not in the running for anything besides a top pick. He won’t play this week.

Admittedly, it is concerning that we have to wait to see how the front office approaches the contract negotiations to see how this all turns out. You’d expect a competent franchise to sign him to a long term deal if they decided not to trade him at the deadline, but it seems like the worst case scenario is Cincinnati franchise tagging him and trading him after he refuses to sign.”

New York Jets v Cincinnati Bengals
Zac Taylor replaced long-time head coach Marvin Lewis and is 1-11.
Photo by Bryan Woolston/Getty Images

Chris: “How would you rate Zac Taylor in his first year as the Bengals’ head coach, and do you think he’ll stick beyond 2019?”

Patrick: “If you would’ve asked me before the bye week, I would’ve had a very low grade, but we have finally seen this team improve. The defense may have been what outsiders were looking at, but this offense also looked downright terrible as well through eight weeks. After having the AFC leading rusher in Joe Mixon, he struggled to find any space in this offense, but after the bye week and a blocking scheme change later, we are seeing more of what we saw last year from the running back.

Now we are seeing more of what we expected to see of this team I’d grade him with a B considering most of Cincinnati’s issues were from the way this team was constructed than how they were coached.”

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland’s corners need to watch out for the speed of John Ross.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Chris: “Tell us about one player on offense and one player on defense who Browns fans might not be familiar with, but who could make a nice contribution for this week’s game.”

Patrick: “On offense, John Ross may be a surprising contributor that Browns fans may know but not suspect. He started off the season hot before going down with an injury in Week 4. Taylor’s offense makes better use of his speed than any offensive scheme under Marvin Lewis did. He will be used as more than just merely a decoy.

Defensively, Lawson doesn’t get enough credit for how much pressure he puts on the quarterback. He may not get all the sack numbers, but he is able to get th quarterback off his spot and force him into the waiting arms of the other defenders. He is a great compliment to Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap along the defensive line, and he should be a guy to watch on Sunday.”

Thanks again to Patrick for taking the time to answer my questions.