I didn't want to ignore a week just because a game wasn't played. Mike Brown can do that and pretend that his team is doing fine at 3-4 and doesn't need any upgrades when it should be no worse than 5-2, but I'll "man up" here and accept some responsibility for continuing my weekly assessments.
So where did we leave off? Ah yes, we had just taken a butt kicking from a Steelers team that was playing without a bunch of its starters, and we didn't seem to have much shame about it. Even after two losses prior to that to Miami and Cleveland, we didn't have much shame. Or at least it didn't seem so to me. To make us feel better, we can note that the Fish are now 4-3 overall after beating the Rams and Jets consecutively after taking us down. We can point out that the Browns have split games after playing us with a close loss away to Indy and a home win against San Diego. And the Steelers? They blew out the Redskins 27-12 last weekend. So that makes us not so bad after all, right?
But you probably know where I'm going with this, don't you? Above you will see the enabling excuses that losers use to feel better about what they are. And right now, with more losses than wins, we are losers. We're not "potential winners," "almost winners," "a young team with talent" or a "promising group with several consecutive good drafts." We're just losers. So remember that when you want to sit around the cooler at work and fantasize about what could be.
So now that rant is over -- where in the heck was I going? Overriding Themes? Yes:
PRIOR 5 OVERRIDING THEMES
1. The offense sucks --> No Bell Cow RB or RB-by-committee. No passing game after 10 yards. No production from the #2. No consistency from the TE. LT looking injured. RT gonna be a UFA soon.
2. The veteran LB play sucks --> Counting on an undrafted rookie free agent to save the day on every play from the WILL spot.
4. The coaching decisions suck --> Saw Marvin's arms off on game-day, and you may have a solution. Simpler yet, just let someone else hold the challenge flags and make the strategic decisions. Marv, you go warm up some hot chocolate and do your best Bobby Bowden imitation on the sideline.
5. The record sucks --> Read the intro. No need to repeat.
NEW THEMES TO CONSIDER
* Thank God I was wrong -- Leon Hall did play all the snaps against Pittsburgh after all. Joe Goodberry was good enough to point that out after which I checked and confirmed this on the Defensive Play Snaps post on this great website -- I missed this in watching the game because Hall was deep, we were playing a lot of nickel (Pacman in, Lawson out) and Hall wasn't noticeable. Why is this such a big deal? If Leon Hall is able to play most of the snaps and not be noticeable, that is good for today and tomorrow. You don't want your CBs to be noticed -- that means either the guy is dominating or that the other CB is pretty bad (maybe both are true .... like in our case). In fact, it is pretty incredible that Hall is doing so well after such a devastating injury. But the thing to really know is that Zimmer's D relies heavily on having two very capable CBs. If we can count on Hall and get the production out of Kirkpatrick that should be expected out of a 1st round pick, we will eventually gravitate back to the top on D.
* We're Dancing with Who Brought Us -- Did you really think that Mike Brown would throw us another curve ball? Hire another scout? Buy additional sports drinks for players to take home? Heck no we won't / isn't / didn't! And we're not trading for a (insert here) ________ WR / RB / LB / S either. The bigger news? A pep talk for Dalton & Maualuga? A rumor that we're going Fisher-Price on the Offensive Line too? Holy Water thrown on Marvin Jones? "Ced Peerman is my home boy" button day? All jokes aside, the front office either thinks that it can turn the season around in the second half without changing personnel, or it is happy with the income projections regardless of the record. It's going to take a big change in play to do the former.
* Another Error I Made Last Week -- I kept noting that Mike would still re-sign Marv after this season when Marv is working on a deal that doesn't end until after the 2014 campaign. I stand corrected. And you know that we always eat what's on our plate in Cincy. If you don't know what that means, just understand that Marv could lose every game for the remainder of his deal and probably wouldn't be removed.
* Injury News / Issues -- This might be the only intriguing item for me at this time. Briefly summarized:
-- Faine's hamstring is still bad; Cook is still several weeks away from playing --> time to cut Faine, play Robinson. You can't get much worse than 32nd in the league (which is about where PFF has Faine)
-- Brian Leonard & his ribs --> does it make that big of a difference either way? I doubt it.
-- Whitworth's knee --> let's hope that this is his excuse
-- Marvin Jones' knee --> 'twill be interesting to see how Jones pairs with Green to upgrade the deeper passing game; a negative result will be disappointing, while a positive response will be battery acid in our collective eyes after the coaching staff ignored his pre-season success and left him off the Active game day roster for much of the first half of the season
-- Pat Sims back to practice --> Hobson really plays up the Bengals run D plummet in 2011 after Sims got injured, but he always forgets to mention the huge upswing in quality of opponents in those latter games. All said, they now have 3 weeks to activate, cut or place on IR the big guy. I don't think you can count on this guy for much. He's unreliable, out-of-shape and prone to mental errors. Nobody else wants him either. So we're waiting to see whether we sustain a DL injury during this interim or whether Sims comes back to replace maybe a Wallace Gilberry? And does any of that change anything about out ability to compete?
-- Dre Kirkpatrick --> he'll get back on the field just in time to get roasted by a string of good QBs; the difference here is that I'd rather have Dre on his way up while getting roasted than Newman on his way down with the same results; better yet, have we considered maybe sticking Dre at Safety to get some field experience while moving Clements back to CB and Newman back to the unemployment line? If you're gonna play Burfict out of position at WILL, why not get Kirkpatrick on the field at another spot as well?