I can't pretend to say that I expected the Bengals to beat the Jets on Thanksgiving because I didn't. The Bengals did do to me what they've done all season long though, give me a feeling of hope that maybe, just maybe, they'll pull out the win. But, once again, the Bengals took that hope, molded it into the shape of a baseball bat -- a hopebat -- and then proceeded to beat the hell out of me with it.
No wonder I'm waking up sore on Mondays.
Instead of seven things that I liked or seven things that I disliked, this week I'm going to try something new. I'm going to simply state seven things that I know. Here goes.
Thing I know one: Carson Palmer is not Carson Palmer
I may be really late to the table on this one. I've given the guy the benefit of the doubt over the past couple seasons and was blaming everything and everybody around him but I didn't really blame Palmer. But when I watched Palmer throw that deep pass to Terrell Owens, who was surrounded by three defenders in the end zone, and then watched the pass fall about five or six yards short and end up in the arms of a Jets defender it was finally clear to me that something very seriously was wrong -- physically, mentally or both. It may have been one of the worst decisions/worst passes that I have seen Palmer make/throw all season long. I'm not jumping off the CP bandwagon or jumping on the IHCP (I hate Carson Palmer) bandwagon. I'm just simply acknowledging that something is obviously wrong with him. I hope it can be fixed.
Thing I know two: Jordan Shipley is the future of the Bengals
He's short, he plays guitar, he catches passes, your girlfriend/wife loves him, he's Jordan Shipley. He's in the right place at the right time, he catches passes in traffic and he has an extra gear when he catches the ball in space. Not only is he talented as hell, he's smart -- and it shows. Terrell Owens will likely be showcasing his talents in another city next year and if Chad Ochocinco returns to the Bengals next year, he's in the last years of his career. Shipley is the only receiver on the roster who gives me hope for the future.
Thing I know three: Jermaine Gresham has the ability to become an elite tight end
There never has been any question about his physical ability. Gresham possesses that rare combination of size, speed and agility that every coach wishes his tight end had. He can stretch the field, he can catch passes in traffic, he can turn tight end screen passes into 50-yard touchdowns -- he can do it all. Blocking is the only thing that he's not awesome at right now but that will come. Blocking is probably the toughest thing for a rookie tight end to learn how to do. When, not if -- when, Gresham becomes a better blocker, he'll be the complete package and by complete package, I mean Dallas Clark package. I'm not joking.
Also, remember that Reggie Kelly might be one of the best, if not the best, blocking tight ends in the NFL. Gresham couldn't learn the ropes from a better guy.
Thing I know four: I have no clue what I want the Bengals to do in the draft
Should the Bengals draft a quarterback and create some sort of Aaron Rodgers - Brett Favre situation? Should they go after a running back to replace Cedric Benson? Should they draft a new No. 1 wide receiver first? Should they trade away their top-five pick to receive as many draft picks as possible to fill the inevitable holes in the depth chart? I JUST DON'T KNOW!
I guess this shouldn't really count as something I know.... oh well.
Thing I know five: The difference between '09 and '10 is largely the bounce of the ball
There are a million differences. The defense was good last year while I'm fairly sure that they were all kidnapped by aliens in the off season and what we see now is actually just 11 pod-people. Unfortunately, these aliens come from a world where soccer is the only football (I just called down the wrath of every soccer fan in Cincinnati). The offense has also changed their game plan from Cedric Benson to a lot more passing with a little Benson peppered in. Obviously it hasn't worked as well as they had hoped it would.
Last year, the Bengals found themselves late in games down by a few points. Somehow, they managed to move the ball down the field and score winning touchdowns with less talent on the field and the same offensive line. What happened between then and now?
The ball just isn't bouncing their way this year. You can only get lucky so many times.
Thing I know six: The Bengals must be able to regenerate their toes
With all of the shooting of their own feet, it is amazing that the Bengals can even walk let alone play football. They must have a Wolverine type of power that allows them to grow their toes back when they shoot them off. And shooting them off is about the only thing the Bengals have been really good at this season. They had the ability to win most of the games that they played but, when push came to shove, they ended up throwing interceptions, fumbling the ball, dropping passes, missing tackles, calling bad plays, all of which qualifies as shooting themselves in the foot.
One more thing I know: No matter how much they hurt me,
I'm going to keep coming back. I'll pay out the nose for season tickets next year and I'll continue to write about the team that has done nothing but let me down this season. I'd be willing to bet that you will probably be here reading and commenting too. It just means that we both enjoy the pain and the Bengals seem to enjoy inflicting it. It's like a scene right out of Pulp Fiction involving Zed and the Gimp, only weirder.