The Cincinnati Bengals have a discipline problem. While this is not a shocking revelation, the problem goes much deeper than suspensions and off-the-field issues. Team discipline is the number one thing holding the Bengals back and it has been for quite some time.
The exploits of Vontaze Burfict and Adam Pac-Man Jones are well documented. Both have faced disciplinary action from the NFL for their actions and when these disciplinary actions have led to suspensions the Bengals have suffered defensively. Burfict is one of the best players on the team and his absence is hard to replace. Although the Bengals are deep at cornerback, the defense seems to lose their intensity without Jones on the field. The passion that these two players have is what makes them great players and it rubs off on those around them. Their passion is also what causes them to push the limits. These are the types of players who can make a team great, but they need leaders on the field and on the sidelines who can control them and keep them in check. That is something that the Cincinnati Bengals has lacked.
AJ Green is not known for these sorts of actions and yet he was thrown out of the game Bengals’ recent game against the Jacksonville Jaguars for putting Jalen Ramsey in a choke hold and throwing punches. While I am sure frustration with the season and Green’s interactions with Ramsey throughout the game played a role in Green uncharacteristically losing control, it speaks to the lack of discipline and leadership in Cincinnati.
Look across the field to the Jacksonville sideline and you will see a much more disciplined team. Overall, the Jaguars do not have a more talented roster than the Bengals. In fact, they share many of the Bengals’ personnel issues. The Jaguars benched their star rookie running back Leonard Fournette for violating team rules. This probably seems like a pretty minor thing to most people, but the willingness to do so is the biggest difference between the Bengals and the Jaguars. The Bengals won’t even take a player off the field for a play to calm him down when he is penalized for a personal foul. The Jaguars benched their star player for missing a team picture and won the game in spite of it. Or was it because of it? Ramsey was playing a bit rough in that game, but he has the discipline know to how far he can go. He was only kicked out of the game because officials mistakenly thought he had also thrown a punch.
The Bengals have a bad reputation both on and off the field. Leadership and discipline could solve this problem. The coaching staff is doing the team a disservice by not teaching them how to control their passion and use it to the benefit of the team.
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