The RB Situation
The only thing that could even be considered a silver lining is the fact that we now have a free roster spot for Moch's one week roster exemption that ends today. Probably because of a season ending injury to Bernard Scott - who has been injured for most of his career with the Bengals. I know - this is the most bitter sweet of all silver linings, huh? Anyways, add Bernard Scott to the list of Chris Perry and Kenny Irons. We now have a glaring need at RB. Sure - our Offensive line stinks at run blocking. Whitworth has not been effective at all to runs toward his side. The interior of our line is brand new - a rookie (Zeitler) a 2nd year player who started because of IR (Boling - luckily at the LG spot this time instead of the RG spot as he did last year), and a street FA who started because of another major injury (Faine). Considering Whit's injury and the 3 new guys - its no wonder our running game is as bad as it is.
However, there might still be some hope. As another poster pointed out (Whodeynation), Bobby Rainey is currently on the Ravens Practice Squad and can be signed. As another poster alos pointed out - maybe we could trade for any number of 2nd stringers on other teams - Bolden on New England, Jackie Battle in Kansas City, Brown with the Giants, etc. There are any number of 2nd/3rd string backs that we could trade for. And probably a lot of RBs stashed on other player's practice squads. Go ahead and put Scott on IR, have Moch take his roster spot, and then start looking for a solution at RB.
The LB Conundrum
Maualuga is horrible. No other way to sugar coat it. Pummeled on a critical 3rd and short by Daniel Thomas who he had in a bear hug and Thomas was able to spin out of. Clowned by Clay on a crucial 3rd and long on a long pass reception down the middle. He is slow, weak, and confused. I mean this truly - I honestly don't believe we can do ANY worse. Other LBs can get swallowed up by blockers just as easily. Other LBs can just as easily be too slow in coverage. Other LBs can just as easily be confused as what to do. So why not try someone else who might provide some of the things Maualuga lacks - speed, strength, intelligence, leadership. If they have even one of those things - that in itself is more than what Maualuga is offering.
So what am I suggesting?
MLB - Burfict, with Muckelroy backing up. Let the kid grow. At least we can tolerate "growing pains" over just downright bad play.
WLB - Mays, with Rey backing up. I think while Mays coverage might be lacking for a SS they might be pretty good for a LB. Also, he doesn't have to be the last line of defense as a SS has to be. Hopefully Mays will be able to understand this position quicker.
SLB - Lawson, with Maualuga backing up. Who knows? Maybe Maualuga is able to shine at this posiiton. This was what he played his rookie year much like Burfict is playing out of position at the WLB spot. Maybe putting him back here will help him out?
Reality Check for Coaches and And Dalton
I think Coyle figured out Andy's game. He took away the short stuff. Dalton was never on. His passes were way off. And he had a lot of passes batted down at the line of scrimmage. They figured out Hawkins and shut him down. Binns was invisible all game (except for his fumble on a very poorly thrown ball by Dalton) while Gresham was found single blocking Cameron Wake on Wake's path to numerous sacks. In fact, Dalton was bailed out by Hawkins on one of those passes down the middle of the field late in the game. His ball was overthrown and only because Hawkins was able to sky for the ball was the pass complete. Fast forward a series, and that same ball was even more overthrown by Dalton and intercepted this time. Add in the fumble at the beginning of the game that was luckily ruled dead and Dalton had a very poor game. Dalton is still a 2nd year player. And he is still growing. But I think he needed this reality check. Seeing him and Gruden and Gradkowski huddle up after every single series and were still unable to figure out any kind of counter strategy the whole game was disheartening to say the least.
Gruden was supposed to be the Golden Boy. The whiz kid wonder of all things football. And yet the game plan he came up with was easily nullified. Green and Binns were taken away. Scott was injured. BJGE got something like 1 yard per carry. The line was clueless. And Hawkins and Gresham were nowhere to be found. They bottled up the long passes, and took away the stuff down the middle. You would think that tosses, sweeps, quick outs, and screens would be called up to take advantage of the edges - but we never did.
Zimmer also needs a reality check - mostly for still playing Maualuga. Does he really want to lose this season because of one bad player? We all could see how bad Livings was last year. Everyone knew except for Marvin Lewis and Paul Alexander (who I think had a serious man crush on him). Ironically, the guy who is playing in Livings spot was a guy who we had on the roster last year - Boling. Unfortunately for Boling - he was tried as a RG eventhough he played LG in college. Lets just hope Zimmer wises up and makes the switch at MLB. The Steelers game is sandwiched between the Browns and a bye week. I don't think there is a better time on the schedule to make the switch. Sure Burfict will have his growing pains - but at least they will be for a reason. I'd rather have Burfict making mistakes and improving rather than Maualuga just making mistakes.
Marvin Lewis needs a reality check as well. Why not go for two when we scored our final TD? You have to play the odds. Us being down by 4 or 5 is still the same game, mathematically. And on 4th and 5, down by 4, you go for a long FG? We had 3 minutes left or so - and with a defense that had been a sieve all day - you decide to trust them to hold the Dolphins to a 3-and-out? We aren't the 49ers defense. Sometimes I believe Lewis is delusional on what he thinks this team is and what we really are. And he is a horrible game manager. Managing time. Managing points. Managing challenges. I honestly feel we would be better off if he was GM and this frees up the game planning to be more creative. Other coaches don't fear Lewis' game plans. They are simple and ineffective.
Some people might call this bottom of the roster scrum, but I believe it is essential. Role players are needed. And we need to make the right moves. First up is Moch - who has a spot now probably because Scott will be placed on IR. This should only be a temporary solution as I believe no one is comfortable going forward into the season with BJGE as our only viable RB. If Gruden wants to go RBBC, he needs to pick up another viable RB. Use the extended trading deadline to your advantage and pick up a good player or take Rainey off the Ravens practice squad.
In another week, after the Browns game, next Monday, Sims will be up. He will be eligible to return from PUP. We might get another roster exemption but who goes to make room for Sims? Gilberry? Right now we have 4 DEs - Geathers, Dunlap, Johnson, and Gilberry with Moch as a LB/DE. Seems most likely that Gilberry goes and Moch is used as a DE.
In 3 weeks time, Cook can come back from IR. First, how is Cook's injury and will he be able to come back? Is he rehabilitating fine? Who goes to make room - Faine or Trevor Robinson? Or someone else?
Last week we had Marvin Jones and Ryan Whalen on the inactive list along with Quinn our TE. Whalen has been inactive all year. Trade him now! Why are you sitting on 7 WRs when we are bleeding at other spots? Get something for him - anything! Because he is looking to be let go just to make room for the guys coming in - Moch, Sims, Cook, and hopefully another RB. The Jets need a WR. The Colts lost Austin Collie and need a WR. Get this trade done!