in week 4 of this installment, I start by noting that I was at the game in Jacksonville. I was able to scalp a corner endzone ticket for $40 and was right there for AJ Green's first long pass reception (where he went out at the 1 yard line). I was able to talk to some family members of Brandon Thompson -- they all drove down from Thomasville, GA (and there were about 40 or so of them). So onto the article:
1. Ray Maualuga's Continuing Struggles -- We all know that Rey missed most of camp. If you didn't before, you would now as it is the excuse du jour for Rey's supporters. Point blank, Rey just isn't making plays. And this continued into the Jax game. I watched him very closely for about 1/2 the defensive snaps. What I determined were these items: Rey is neither fast nor quick. He succeeded in earlier days (i.e., USC) because he was bigger and could overpower most of his opponents to win challenges. In the NFL everyone is bigger, and you can't just knock them aside. So you must also be quick and fast to outmaneuver and get there first. Rey is not reading or responding quickly enough to get good angles and leverage on blockers. He doesn't make contact near the LOS. He fails to make dominating hits. I think it's time to make some conclusions. Marv says, "It is what it is." And what "it is" for Rey is that he is not a high caliber NFL MIKE LB. Rey might be a better TED LB in a 3-4 scheme or maybe a situational SAM in our 4-3. I see him as either a backup and STs guy or maybe even a UFA defector come spring 2013. For now I'm thinking that the Bengals need to get Burfict some game snaps at MIKE and should be thinking about transitioning to Burfict as the starting MIKE in the 2nd half of this season.
2. CB Depth Issues --What we thought would be a huge cupboard coming into 2012 has become a bare one. With injuries to Hall, Clements, Allen & Kirkpatrick, we were down to 2 remaining CBs going into the Jax game. Funny thing, however -- Pacman and Newman played awesome games. If we can get these four guys healthy, we're gonna do fine at DB.
3. Andy Dalton: A Budding Star? -- Completion efficiency up about 5%; long ball looking better; spreading ball around more effectively; and team winning. The guy is getting better each week and already looks pretty darn good to me. Andy's big dilemma is that he has 1-2 meltdowns a game, and those are hurting the team. But I think that he's really a great learner and that one-by-one he is learning the ropes to be a long term success in Cincy.
4. Putting Teams Away -- Bengals have not been able to do this under Marv. In DC the 'Skins almost came back. They never could put a bad Cleveland team away and struggled in 2011 to put a whoopin' on inferior talent. In Jax they missed an early 3rd Qtr chance to go up 24-7 when BJGE fumbled on the goal line. However, they recovered and made the last half of the 4th Qtr a ho-hum affair. So they are doing better on this one -- at least this past week they did.
5. MJ93: The Real Deal? -- Eugene Monroe brought MJ back to earth this week with no tackles, sacks, pressures etc. But this is a team game, and there were other guys picking up the slack. So this is definitely a "To Be Continued" situation.
* The Law Firm -- have the Bengals turned him into a bumbling fumbler?
* Geno Atkins -- +9.7 in his PFF grade! What a stud!
* Burfict -- 8 solos, a sack, another TFL and a pass defensed. This looks like the real deal to me.
* Decision time soon? -- Moch is coming back; Whalen still Inactive every week; Sims & Cook will be back in 3-4 more weeks; will be interesting to see where they go with this roster
* Can we be 5-1 when Pittsburgh comes to PBS? -- Just have to beat Miami and Cleveland to reach that goal.