AFC North Notes: Bengals, Browns, Steelers

     

Bengals

The Bengals have gone the entire 2019 season without ever being full-strength at wide receiver. On Sunday, that was exploited by a fearsome Patriots secondary, as after the game Bengals HC Zac Taylor singled out how Cincinnati’s wideouts were bullied and thus largely responsible for QB Andy Dalton‘s four interceptions. 

“Three of them were against man-to-man coverage, one-on-ones,” Taylor said via ESPN’s Ben Baby. “And we got bullied. We did. Guys could go compete, knock the ball down, go get a one-on-one [ball].”

Two of those interceptions were on passes intended for WR Tyler Boyd. However, Boyd blamed the scheme for not creating the opportunities he usually has after he finished with three catches on seven targets for 26 yards. It’s the second time this year he’s voiced displeasure with his role in the offense after saying he needed more targets a few weeks ago. 

“What did it look like out there?” Boyd said. “Did it look like anything was working?”

“Two more games left, I mean, I ain’t tripping,” Boyd added. “I ain’t stressing over it. I would like to win, absolutely. But I’m not going to go cause any trouble. They did a great job this whole year of scheming me up, getting me open and getting me the ball. But today just wasn’t that.”

  • According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Bengals WR A.J. Green has looked good in practice recently and could make his 2019 debut in Week 16 or 17. The team hasn’t ruled him out and Rapoport says Green wants to play. 

Browns

Browns HC Freddie Kitchens and WR Jarvis Landry were spotted having a heated exchange of words on the sidelines during Cleveland’s road loss to Arizona on Sunday. Given Landry’s later reported comments to the Cardinals sideline to “Come get me,” it would be reasonable to speculate that Landry is the second star Browns wideout to sour on Kitchens. The first-year head coach downplayed the exchange, however, saying it was just Landry being competitive. 

“I wouldn’t change Jarvis for anything,” Kitchens said via BrownsZone.com’s Scott Petrak. “Jarvis plays the game with passion, which I love. He’s tough, he’s physical, he wants to win. When you want to win as badly as Jarvis does, sometimes emotions get the best of you.”

All Landry would say about the exchange is that he was frustrated by not having the ball enough and he expressed that to Kitchens. He finished with five catches for 23 yards. 

“I just went and asked for the ball,” Landry said via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I just went and asked for the ball to try to get involved in the game to help. That’s pretty much it.”

  • Kitchens was asked about his future in Cleveland after Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals: “I don’t care about my future as a Browns coach. I’m gonna show up Monday and do the best job that I can do Monday and that’s tomorrow. That’s the only thing I can control.” (Jake Trotter)
  • On Monday, Kitchens clarified his comments: “I care about my job. I only care, though, about getting better today. That’s what I was trying to illustrate. I’m only focused on today. Dee and Jimmy Haslam, and John Dorsey, would much rather me worry about getting our team ready.” (Keith Britton)
  • The Browns tried out CB Derrick Jones on Monday. (Howard Balzer)

Steelers

A better ability to protect the ball is why Steelers HC Mike Tomlin elected to go with undrafted rookie QB Devlin Hodges over QB Mason Rudolph. However, after four interceptions in a 17-10 loss to the Bills on Sunday night, it appears the Steelers could be headed back to the drawing board at quarterback, though Tomlin wasn’t ready to discuss that in the moments after the loss. 

“I am not getting into that, guys,” Tomlin said via Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “We just lost a football game. I’m not going to make an announcement every week or every time I stand in front of you guys in terms of who is playing quarterback or any other position for that matter.”

  • CBS Sports Jason La Canfora reports the Steelers offered Bills WR John Brown a two-year, $16 million deal with $8 million guaranteed this offseason. 
  • However, Brown elected to sign with the Bills, who offered him a three-year, $27 million deal with $10 million in guarantees. 
  • Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster said he’ll test his knee again in practice this week but he wants to be smart and avoid aggravating his injury into something more serious. (Ray Fittipaldo)
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