James Rapien

James Rapien

James Rapien came to talk sports and chew gum, and he's all out of gum.Full Bio


Three thoughts on the Bengals' 24-20 loss to the Titans

I went on a limb and said the Bengals would get a win this week. They played much better than they did in Jacksonville, but left plenty to be desired in a 24-20 loss to the Titans. This game will be 'Topic A' on Monday's episode of Cincy 3:60 starting at Noon on ESPN 1530. I will also discuss the loss on tomorrow's Locked on Bengals podcast. 

Here are three thoughts about the loss to the Titans:

1. The offense continues to let this team down

Andy Dalton played okay on Sunday, but the inconsistencies on offense are hard to watch. The Bengals started the game with the ball. The first play of the game was a screen pass to Brandon LaFell. LaFell had his best game of the season, but he's the last player who should be on the receiving end of a designed screen pass. 

They had their good moments. On the following drive, Dalton led the offense straight down the field and connected found LaFell for a 37-yard touchdown. Unfortunately, that was their best drive of the game. 

This offense failed to take advantage of opportunities throughout the game. Adam Jones had a long punt return that gave the offense good field position. They lost yardage on the possession and went three-and-out. I don't see how their struggles on offense will change unless they can consistently get the ball to A.J. Green, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. 

This team also has to find a way to get John Ross involved. It doesn't have to be a deep ball. It could be a screen pass, a slant, anything to get him going. Marvin Lewis acknowledged the wide receivers aren't getting enough separation. Ross has the potential to help in that area, but they need to give him a chance to help AND put him in a position to succeed. Apparently that is easier said than done for Lewis, offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and the rest of the coaching staff. 

2. The defense bent, but it didn't break

I've gotten plenty of tweets about the defense allowing the game winning touchdown. I understand how frustrating the penalties were. I also get the disappointment with Josh Shaw, who had a bad game today. With that being said, this defense played relatively well.

They were without Vontaze Burfict for the majority of the game. Adam Jones left the game with a concussion and William Jackson III missed most of the fourth quarter with a toe injury. The defense forced a Corey Davis fumble (which saved a touchdown) and Darqueze Dennard had a key interception before halftime to help erase an Andy Dalton fumble in the red zone. 

Not many NFL defenses are going to hold an opposing offense to seven total second half points on the road. This defense did, but it wasn't enough. 

3. It's the same old song and dance with Vontaze Burfict

I've ripped Burfict for some of the stuff he's done during his career and I've defended some of the things he's been ridiculed for. I've seen plenty of fans say the NFL is out to get Burfict. Others think the official involved in the play below should be fired. 

Burfict HAS to be smarter. Yes, he has a target on his back. Yes, the NFL could very well suspend him for what he did. First, he stepped on the arm of Titans offensive lineman Brian Schwenke. That leads to him being pushed by Tennessee right tackle Jack Conklin. Burfict took exception with the push and the official got between them to prevent the situation from escalating. Instead of walking away, Burfict knocks the officials arm out of the way. 

Someone with his reputation can't do that. He made contact with the official and it drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. And while I thought the first penalty (late hit called earlier during the drive) on Burfict was ridiculous, he should know better than to knock an officials arm out of the way. 

Instead, Burfict did what Burfict does. And that's why he could be suspended and watched the rest of the game from the locker room. 

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