As Bengals fans, boy this has been as rough a week as any. Heart-breaking loss against the Denver Broncos, injuries, illegal activities, suspensions, it didn't seem like it was going to end. If we're feeling worn out after this week, think about a 23-year old whose job it is to be the field general for this offense. When things like cohesion and familiarity are important for rookie quarterbacks, let's face facts, this week has been rough for quarterback Andy Dalton.
Dalton lost his primary slot receiver when Jordan Shipley suffered an ACL tear in his knee, ending his season with only four receptions. Along with losing a receiver with 52 receptions during his rookie season, Dalton lost his best slot receiver who is arguably the team's better route runners that finds ways to get open.
Within three days reports surfaced that Jerome Simpson's house was the destination for a controlled delivery by authorities that contained 2.5 pounds of marijuana. Investigators found an additional six pounds inside the residence, along with packing supplies that authorities suggest could either be an active (or preparing to be active) distribution center. Simpson was excused from practice on Thursday and there's no telling when, if ever, we'll see Simpson again. At the very least, Dalton won't have Simpson this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers.
To make matters worse, Dalton learned that his starting running back, who averages 20 carries per game with the Cincinnati Bengals, was given a three-game suspension. Since Benson is planning on appealing it, Dalton will have his running back against the 49ers. However if the appeal fails, Benson will miss at least one game (there is a feeling that the appeal will at least give Benson one, if not two, games back).
In one week, Dalton lost his starting slot receiver, starting wide receiver and starting running back (though it's possible the appeal wins) in less than a week. That's a lot of disruption from familiarity and cohesion for a rookie quarterback; though we're more confident than not he'll manage.
We've spoken about Dalton's maturity in the past and leadership intangibles that were on display against the Denver Broncos, along with his composure to help bring Cincinnati to within two points in only his second start. But this will be Dalton's first true test facing unrelenting adversity. How will he and the Bengals offense react?
If there's a storyline to be had this weekend, that is most definitely it.