Week 2 of the weekly installment -- I didn't watch this one as closely even though I was able to view most of the snaps. I think there is a fan letdown when you play Cleveland. You really aren't motivated to feel as good with simple wins because, after all, the Browns suck, right? And if the unthinkable happens, you know it's gonna be a long season. Anyway, onto the smart-assed comments. I think in the weekly installments that I'll focus on the "Five Overriding Themes" from the prior week's game before moving onto new themes to consider from the most recent game.
PRIOR 5 OVERRIDING THEMES
1. Jury is still out on DB and LB coaching --> Brandon Weeden threw for 322 yards with a 114.9 QB rating on the road a week after generating a 5.1 rating at home. If it isn't obvious, this isn't good. And it continues the recent trend of Bengals Defenses making rookie QBs all look like John Elway in his prime. On the LB front, we're dealing with poor protoplasm, I fear, especially now with Howard out for the season. We'll address Mauaulga later. But it's clear that Manny Lawson isn't adding much to the playmaking on D. With the SAM not having a ton of pass coverage responsibility, I'd like to see Skuta play more there and then work Moch into the situation when he comes back. Skuta can also grab snaps at MIKE along with Burfict. And let's get Muck, Moch, Vince Rey and Burfict all involved at WILL. My point is that let's get some fresh, young blood experience at LB because these two vets (Lawson & Maualuga) are an embarrassment for the most part. I loved watching Burfict fly to the ball yesterday, and he'll get better over time. Josh Kirkendall had a good review of the 4th Qtr Greg Little TD reception where Jeromy Miles appeared to totally miss Little crossing from the other side. If your Safety's field vision is that poor, there are major problems in the coaching aspect of zone coverage where the center fielders are keeping inventory on all of the wideouts before and during the snap -- the fact that Little escaped that treatment from Miles illustrates that Miles doesn't know what he's doing in that situation.
2. Maybe our depth isn't as good as we were thinking? --> I saw ESPN's John Clayton second my note about our CBs looking old and slow. Clearly, Leon Hall either isn't fully recovered, or he will never be the same. But he just isn't able to provide the Cover 0 support that he did in years prior -- and that's the most major problem in the secondary because you have to have a top end #1 CB to play press coverage (and now everyone knows that we don't). A few have mentioned our DL mess with Geathers gimpy (and never getting better), Dunlap still healing and now Anderson out for the season. Throw in two rookies at DT, and this creates a mess. In fact, Hobson is writing that he expects the team to bring Fanene back soon -- maybe not a bad idea if the guy's knee isn't as crippled as NE hinted.
3. Running game looks decent --> +1 here for BJGE who is able to squeeze out a yard or two after contact almost every time. We'll see how Scott adds to the soup when he's back. The interior OL continues to impress although we're one injury from disaster there. Let's hope that Collins or Roland can produce if ever needed in a pinch. But for now, Boling and Zeitler seem to be moving the pile all right.
4. Where are we going with our WR corps? --> Things are more muddied albeit in a good way after we got contributions from 5 guys against the Browns. It may be time to think strongly about moving Tate for a draft pick if there is interest. The problem I see is that we can't keep 7 WRs indefinitely when the depth is hurting at all levels on D and when we'll have Moch and Sims coming back soon. I think that Binns and Tate overlap as do Tate and Jones. And there is growing discussion that Jones needs to be getting more game snaps opposite AJ Green... and I agree.
5. Rey Maualuga --> Josh also had a nice article exposing some of the bad plays that Maualuga produced again this week. After making some unadvised comments in the media last week about Trent Richardson, he just compounded his mistake by playing like a HS kid on Sunday. The two Richardson TDs were both misses by Maualuga, and Rey again just didn't provide the presence that you want from your MIKE in a 4-3. So it really is time to start working Burfict into the mix in the middle while putting Maualuga into Burfict's spot on a few of the STs groups. Maybe he gets the message, maybe not -- but I really just think that Maualuga doesn't have the talent or smarts to succeed in the NFL. It's not over for him, but I'm starting to think that his sun is setting.
* What is this sack deal with Andy Dalton? --> I think the guy is just holding the ball too long. We need to be patient and let Dalton develop over time. Eli Manning is a good example of a guy who really took 3 - 4 years to optimize his field skills, and I think that Dalton is on a similar learning curve with respect to vision and decision making. Of course, the problem with the Cincy franchise always is that by the time the QB comes around, you might not have an OL, WRs and/or RBs to complement him.
* Special Teams looked better --> They did a nice job in all areas especially given the fact that they were facing Josh Cribbs. The biggest thing for improvement I noticed was that the kickoffs are all being returned and that Cribbs popped one out past the 30 -- this is now a rare event in the league with the kickoff distance changes and signals the need to consider Nugent's leg strength.
* Time for a young LB Renaissance? --> We better start assessing now as we might be dealing with 3 new starters in 2013.
* When is Kirkpatrick gonna be ready? --> We suddenly went from a feeling of being stocked at CB to one in which we need to think about a new #1.
* Where is this franchise going in the long run? --> Something continues to be lacking in the overall scheme of things where the team just can't play exciting ball in all three phases on any given Sunday. Most fans' dreams for their team involves the hope of winning it all. It's just tough to see or believe that is in the works here when we can't compete against the really good teams and can't open a can o' whoop ass against the bad ones.