We got it out the way. Over…done… kaput! Now that the bye is over we look forward to the second half. As a rule of thumb, Cincinnati has been a first half football team. We get up and then find some way to let it get away from us. This has happened with some of our seasons as well. Last year we started 6-2 but then went 3-5 for the second part of the season. Now we’re 3-4 and we’re going to have to reverse what we did last year in order to do something we haven’t done in 30 years…make the playoffs back-to-back years. How are we going to do it? Everyone has got an opinion…and mine is probably wrong…but I’ll tell you anyways.
- Dalton needs to get back on the saddle. The biggest thing I’ve seen that I think he’s lost is his confidence. Last year he came out with this ‘I don’t care’ attitude. The odds were stacked against him; rookie, no OTAs and a second round pick. Everyone just wanted him to be okay. Somebody to get us through the year until we could figure out what to do…but he didn’t care. He had nothing to lose and everything to prove so he came out and delivered a rookie year performance like it had never been done before. Now that he’s here and he knows he has a permanent place here he’s understanding that people are relying on him more (maybe more then they should sometimes). I don’t question is arm strength, accuracy, decision making or leadership abilities. He’s the man for the job; the QB of our future. It sounds hokey, but he just needs a pat on the back and some confidence boosters. Losing doesn’t really build that, but a win at home against Peyton Manning does.
- This brings me to our WRs. I don’t think we’re going to find our true #2 this year. We’re 7 games in and no one has emerged yet. We’ve got weapons out the wazoo but we’re still trying to figure out how the puzzle fits together. I think Gruden is finally onto something with Jones and Sanu. Mickey told us from Day 1 that these two guys were going to be the answer…I’m starting to finally see. We’ve got the deep threat in Green and we’ve got the big target across the middle with Gresham…so let’s get two more just like them. You can’t cover clones ALL the time. Now I’m not saying that Sanu and Jones are just as good as Green and Gresham but they are good enough that you can give Dalton more options but within the same parameters. Once those two youngsters start making those plays then it’s going to free up our two pro bowlers a lot more then that have of lately.
- Here is where I was going to talk about the running game…but I don’t want to. We know the kind of shape that it’s in and there is nothing we can do about it. So let’s talk about the line. 1st center…gone. 2nd center…gone. Welcome to the NFL Robinson! I don’t know if there is one, single, definite NFL roster spot that you shouldn’t start as a rookie Day 1 but I think center should be it. It’s exactly what it’s name suggests…the center of the line…the center of protection. Trevor isn’t doing a bad job…he’s just not doing what a veteran would do…playing like one. I haven’t been able to find any concrete information on Cook but if you’re listening buddy…come back soon. Zeitler and Boling are playing like rookies as well. Hopefully the bye week did a number on our O-line because more protection equals more confidence for Dalton
- What happened to our rotating D-line from last year? People were saying that our D-line was unstoppable because we had so many GREAT fresh legs to put in there every down that we were always stuffing the run AND putting pressure on the QB. I think that our run D has looked better over the last couple of weeks. We’ve only let 2 teams rush over 100 yards on us all season so that’s a plus, however we’re not getting to the QB. We haven’t seen much of Dunlap since his return to the fold and Michael Johnson has been quiet too. Zimmer needs to find creative ways to get our guys to create more pressure and get more sacks.
- The middle of the field is messy. Maualuga has not looked good and he’s not going anywhere…Marvin said that. TEs and WRs are finding HUGE cushions there and it has to stop. EVERYONE has to play tighter across the middle and stop letting these easy 3rd-and-long stops get away from us. The silver lining is Burfict. The boy looks fantastic and all we can ask is that he continues to deliver.
- Hall needs to get better, Clements needs to get better and Kirkpatrick needs to learn fast. We’re getting beat on the back end…not as much as we were in the beginning…but it’s still happening. Manning will see this and exploit this. I think we need to put Jones on the bench and use him for returns and get rid of Tate all together but that rant is for another article.
I am not an expert…I’m just a big fan. I didn’t play football…ever…so my knowledge of logistics is limited to what I’ve seen on TV. What I do know is that there is a lot of talent on this team but we just haven’t found the right way to use it all. That’s on the coaches. If there is any particular piece of film that I suggest they watch then it’s the 3 wins that we had at the beginning of the season. Look at what we did and find out how to incorporate that into our scheme now. DON’T BE PREDICTABLE…BE CREATIVE. We’ve become that team that does the same thing in the same situation every time. If the other team knows what you are going to do then they WILL stop you.
Before I go I want to leave you with one thing that I always tell my third graders. No matter how bad a day you had, no matter what grade you got, not matter what happened on recess, no matter what your mom packed you for lunch; tomorrow is a brand new day, so start over and remember that ANYTHING can happen. Stay true Bengals fans! Be supportive and root for our boys!