So I'm starting to get into a patterned groove in writing my weekly deal here. I like waiting until mid-week to reflect, read comments and note adjustments the team makes before posting my thoughts. It seems that you can get a lot by reading between the lines, and I'll dig into some of those within. Anyway, it was a pretty bad loss to the Fish for several reasons. First, Miami isn't a very good team -- so by the transitive rule, we aren't either. Now Green Bay lost to Indy last weekend (and they're 2-3 now), so I guess they really stink too?! Some will argue that GB lost at Indy, and that makes them feel better? Not sure. But the second concept of losing to Miami is that the Bengals over the past 20 or so games won the games they're supposed to win. Finally, my last sting of a Miami loss is the way it happened -- emotionless throughout. It just didn't feel good from opening kickoff to final whistle.
Let's get to the themes:PRIOR 5 OVERRIDING THEMES
1) Maualuga Isn't Cutting the Mustard -- Have we all talked this one to death yet? Now comes Dan Hoard's article on the Bengals website noting that the team has asked him to cut his weight from 265 to 250. Here is a direct confirmation that the team sees that he is too slow (and let me add not quick enough). Five games into the season the "bad ankle" excuse is on the way out the back door, while the "too fat" excuse enters the front. For those who say, "But he made a lot of tackles!", you really need to consider where they are being made. Again, Maualuga is not making quick reads, is not making contact close to the Line of Scrimmage and is not making big plays. Hope it gets better -- suspect it won't (especially after 3+ years of learning on the job). As a final note, Moch is back on the roster now. He's listed as a SAM and situational DE. I'm still wondering if he can play WILL. It might be interesting to see Maualuga at SAM, Burfict at MIKE and Moch at WILL. I'm not positive that it's all interchangeable, but I am pretty positive that Moch is a lot faster (and therefore a theoretical better fit at WILL) than Burfict.
2) The Law Firm: Not a Senior Partner? -- Hey... I read comments where people write "BJGE sucks" and similar type garbage. Wrong thought, I feel. This guy is a situational player. Good on the goal line. Good in short yardage. Good when the OL blocks its assignments for at least a one count. This guy is not somebody who makes you miss. This guy runs hard, works hard and avoids mental errors. But he needs a more dynamic counterpart and will likely remain a "failure" for those who expect him to be a mix of Corey Dillon and the Postman.
3) CB Depth: An Issue? -- Looks like guys are getting healthy. Looks like Newman has been the guy getting roasted lately. Pacman and Hall both played well -- that's a couple in a row for Adam. Maybe Hall and Pacman should be the CBs with Clements at Safety & Nickel? I still think Clements will need to come off the field for Mays in obvious running downs, but it helps to have 3 CBs out there most of the time. Newman has made a lot of mistakes so far this season, hasn't he? What about Jason Allen? He must have a flesh-eating bacteria infection or something to have missed so many games.
4) Putting Teams Away -- The ego is telling us that we ought to be beating teams into the dirt; the super-ego is telling us that we don't have the guns. Let's see: no running backs - check; no long passing game - check; no playmaking in the middle of the D - check; no change on any of this since last spring - check. Guys -- this is what we thought it was. You know..... the whole deal with chicken salad and chicken crap. This is the NFL, not the "Dreams Come True" League...unfortunately.
5) Defensive Line: Our Strength? -- In a word - YES.
NEW THEMES TO CONSIDER
* Dalton's Inconsistency --When he throws more than 40 times, we lose. When guys drop passes, we lose. When we can't establish some long passing, we usually lose. When the run game is atrocious, we usually lose. So this has been noted prior -- Dalton is a piece of the puzzle, but he's not the solution. Ben Roethlisberger can win games with sheer will; Brady wins them with his arm; Peyton wins them with his head. Dalton is still only 20 games into his career and still looks good to me. Just get us a #2 WR who can put up some numbers and get deep a couple times a game.
* RB Dilemma --So let's see. You keep 7 WRs on the roster with two inactive on game day but only 3 situational RBs? We've got it covered for short yardage, 3rd down and special teams then. Hmmmm. Well, I guess RB isn't important in the NFL anymore after all. Just pass on 1st and 2nd downs. Now there is no speed at RB, so we need to pray that Ced Peerman has something to surpise us. But we already know that he doesn't make people miss, which is what we don't have in a RB. I read some conjecture today about AZ going after Chris Johnson. Would / should we consider that? I'm not sure the guy still has the will to play hard -- or is the Titan OL that bad?
* Whitworth Declining? -- He's struggling a lot this year especially in run blocking against the better talent.
* Coaching Decisions -- This is nothing new. Do you go for two anytime in the 4th Qtr in a low scoring game when you're down by 5? I think you do. Thanks to Herr Reedy who lets us know that you don't go for two unless there are five minutes or less to go (BTW -- where does he get this stuff?). Compound that then by going for a FG when down 4 with 3:08 to play when you've only scored 13 points in the prior 56:52. Not smart. Marv knows that he was wrong -- I hope. But this was a real joke, and we all know it.
* 3rd Down Efficiency -- Hate to say it, but this is set up by consistently getting into 3rd-and-longs. And passing 80% of the time in 3rd-and-shorts seems ridiculous too. So. look, this comes back to the poor running game. If you can't pop the ball for 4 or 5 on first down runs, you're gonna get into a bad situations.
* How Many of You Were Seething at about 4:00 pm last Sunday? -- Do you expect them to win them all? Me too. I wait for about 12 hours and wake up on Monday having fallen back to earthen sensibilities. Do we reset expectations for 2012? Things can change. What needs to change for this season to be a winning one?
1) I think we need to have a RB emerge who can promote a steady running game. I don't think that guy is one of our current three roster RBs.
2) Seven WRs and no #2? Gotta fix that and get rid of the 7th WR. There aren't any easy answers here, but I'm for letting Tate go. Tough decision, I know. I like Whalen and think that he can be more valuable to the team over the next 2+ seasons than Tate can.
3) Need to figure it out at LB -- get three guys in there who can make a difference. Hate to say it, but Lawson and Maualuga are dead weight. Rey's got nice hair, and Manny is a smart dude. So there, I said a few nice things. But they are driving Zimmer to an early grave.
So that's only three things that we want. Trade for a RB. Move our LBs around. Make a move at WR. Anything is better than doing nothing, staying 0.500 and waiting for another "next year."