I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to write tonight, that I was going to wait until tomorrow when I'd cooled down a bit. Do you know what, though? I'm calm. I'm sitting here at my iMac, taking deep breaths and thinking about the implications of tonight's game and how it was lost.
First and foremost, the Bengals were the lesser team on the field of play. Outplayed and outcoached completely, our boys in Orange and Black just didn't have an answer for Brian Schottenheimer's offense.
The game started out well enough, it really did. And you know what? We were fans of a playoff team today.
That's a start.
First things first. Good bye, Shayne Graham. I'm not going to dwell on it. Missing a 34 yarder and a 28 yarder in the playoffs (especially for a franchised kicker) is absolutely inexcusable. See ya, Shayne. Thanks for the good years, but I don't want to see you in stripes anymore.
Other than that, I am torn about some of the emotions I am experiencing tonight. I'm the guy who named my son after Carson Palmer, and I'm dangerously close to being done with the man as the quarterback of the Bengals. I am to the point where I just really don't know if the guy has what it takes anymore. Sure, the loss of Chris Henry hurts. I understand what the threat of Henry meant to this offense even when he wasn't catching very many balls this year. He was a legitimate deep threat that was drawing focus from Chad and Andre Caldwell.
That doesn't excuse all the throws I saw tonight that were (very) high or (very) behind the receivers Palmer had on the field. I think that this organization may have ruined Palmer. You don't know how much it pains me to be saying this, but I just don't know if the guy has the juice anymore. He isn't finishing his throws, which is the root cause for the ball sailing as was tonight.
I don't necessarily want a quarterback taken in the first round next year, but sometime in the third or fourth round would be okay by me. Someone has to be there to push Palmer at this point. We all know that O'Sullivan isn't the answer. Jordan Palmer isn't the answer. The point is, I don't know what the answer is. All I know is the Carson Palmer of three and four years ago wouldn't have been outplayed by a rookie like we saw tonight. Maybe the necessary change is to get rid of Ken Zampese and let some other team finally make him their offensive coordinator. If no offers come, call up Norm Chow to be Carson's coach and just let Zampese go. Carson has regressed ever since 2006 came and went. If it isn't time for a new man under center, it's definitely time for a new quarterbacks coach. Something has to change there for sure.
I'm not going to pile on Bratkowski. I'm just not. I don't even know what to think about Bob right now, because Cedric Benson ran for 169 yards on 21 carries (a manly 8 yards a carry) against the best run defense in the league) and if Palmer hadn't executed so poorly I think it would have been a different story.
From here on out, let me just spitball a little for you. These are some of the thoughts that are swirling through my head right now.
What in the WORLD were Marvin and Darrin Simmons thinking with the kickoff coming out of halftime? I don't even have anything else to say about that. I just haven't the slightest idea what that was. Was that intentional?
Draft a receiver or three. Please. Golden Tate, Mardy Gilyard, Dez Bryant, anybody. This must happen. I'm done with the Jerome Simpson experiment. Cut Coles if you have to, give his number 11 to Gilyard.
Do not let Mike Zimmer be anywhere but in Cincinnati next season. I implore you to do the right thing with Zimmer.
Katie, you'd better be talking turkey with Jonathan Joseph and/or Leon Hall. Tonight.
Bring Tank Johnson back for at least one more year. if Roy Williams is healthy enough, same thing.
If there is no receiver that is worth the first round pick, go corner or safety. A first-round safety sounds pretty good for this defense. We're an Ed Reed or Troy Polamalu away from being a defense that will be talked about for a very long time. Well, you know. If we bring Mike Zimmer back.
Did I mention I'd like to see Norm Chow working with Carson Palmer?
Lastly, there is something that I want to make abundantly clear to the Bengals and to Mike Brown. We're proud of the 2009 Cincinnati Bengals. Limping into the playoffs and getting sent home in the Wild Card round hurts. It does. It doesn't diminish how great it was to see a team go from being 4-11-1 in 2008 to a division sweep and AFC North championship in 2009. That's outstanding.
For us at this point, it also isn't enough. We want to see a playoff win. We want to see an AFC Championship. We want to see a Super Bowl victory. Some of the pieces are in place for that progression to be happening.
There are however an awful lot of things that need to be worked out before that dream can be realized. Please don't take this year's success as impetus to stand pat this offseason. Keep improving this team. Bring us a trophy.
Preferably one that's made by Tiffany's and rhymes with "Lombardi."
Still proud to be,
A Pragmatic Bengals Fan
*Also , I will be replaying the Cedric Benson touchdown run in my mind all offseason