Here's my issues with this last game in particular, and the Bengals going forward.
1. I agree with Daugherty and everyone else on the planet. THROW AJ THE F-iNG BALL. I understand they were trying to "take what the defense gave them", but every team will try to make you go away from your strengths. FIND WAYS to get AJ THE BALL. Move him around, run an end around, something..anything.
2. The play calling in general. It's time for Gruden to go. Period. I wasn't a fan of him the entire second half of the season. What happened to the imagination? Out couched on a consistant basis, the inability to make adjustments based on what the defense is giving them. Maybe marvin is controlling his plays calls...which brings me to my next point.
3. Head coaching/coaching failure. Marvin lewis GONE! I feel like he's just like Andy dalton. He can be mediocre at best. Bad decisions every game. Every year these games look like they are just too "big" for the bengals. Players don't seem to believe they can win. (with a few exceptions I'll address later in the post. It's been an ongoing trend with this city over the last 10 years marvin has been here (and probably before that as well). Different players, same deer in the headlights look in big games. I have to look at the coaching staff to fix this problem. Something they are not capable of doing with their current personal. When you get out COACHED this badly it's time for heads to roll. I don't think anyone can look at this game and disagree with me on that point.
4. Lack of running plays. It was obvious to everyone that both teams needed to establish a run and let it open up the passive game. Just like in most games. I may be a bit off on the states but BJGE had a pretty decent game considering he only got like 10 touches. He had several great runs, and turned a few bad plays into solid gains. Averaged just under 6 yards a carry I think? Why the hell didn't we let him run the ball more? Throughout 99 percent of the drives we had plenty of time to run the ball and eat up SOME clock even while behind. Abandoning the running game put more pressure on Dalton and our receivers then they are capable of handling. How many times have we proved it? Again...Gruden...what the hell mate?
5.Even Zimmer, who by far did the best coaching on Saturday, could not find a way to stop quick slants, or Arian foster. I understand they are a good running/ play action team. I think replacing Malalugua in the middle will help tremendously. It seemed like EVERY TIME they needed a big first down, they set up a play to take advantage of ray in the middle through the air. It was painful to watch.
Changes to the passing game:
It's never been more obvious then today against a GREAT defense that we need a true number 2 receiver. The receiver by committee experiment has failed. That's not to say I don't think we have value in our receivers. Sanu coming back will help tremendously based on what we saw over that great stretch he had. Marvin Jones has come a long way in the short amount of time he has had. Give the kid a fair shot in the off season. Gresham has played ONE great game this season. I forget who it was against but the guy caught a million passes, and at one point drug 4-5 defenders about fifteen yards after the catch for what appeared to be a touchdown and was later called down at the one. He had great hands and was playing obviously pissed off and aggressive. They literally couldn't tackle him the whole game. In the off season, you tell him to get his shit together, or let charles get his shot. He's looked great when given the few chances he's gotten. Hawkins has value, and will open up his chances if the rest of the core gets it together. He's just not going to beat coverage constantly to get open. Save him for special plays and packages. AJ Green and Marvin Jones, BJGE showed up to play..the rest of the offense...wow.
Changes to the running game:
BJGE is a solid option going forward. We desperately need a speed back that is consistent and stays healthy. I'm not saying we couldn't upgrade BJGE but if we commit to the run, and a little bit better run blocking, this teams running game will improve drastically. Use whichever back, (BJGE or the speed back) is working that game. We did it a few times earlier this season, then got away from it due to Gruden being incompetent and injuries.
Changes to the o-line: The line obviously still needs some help. With all the injuries they played better then expected this season. And they are young. Travelle Wharton coming back should help. And bring in 1-2 other solid options to compete for starting spots and I think this young line will come along. I have faith, despite a few horrible games.
Changes to Defense:
All in all the Defense will be fine. They need help with some coverage line backers in the middle. They needed to adjust when they failed to get pressure with only rushing 4. I know it has worked all season but it did not...AT ALL, on Saturday. We maybe hurried Schuab (sp?) 2-3 times. Burfict showed up to play in a big way. I couldn't be more impressed with how well he has played...as an UDFA. Granted there's room for improvement, but based on the giant leaps he's made this season, I see no reason to doubt the kid. Leon hall and most of the secondary came to play. Hopefully kirkpatrick gets healthy and contributes this season, and we pick up another great safety and I think our defense is pretty set. Those changes should take us from a GOOD defense, to a top 3 defense.
Changes to QB:
We need to bring in someone to seriously compete with Andy Dalton. Whether it's through the draft or a FA. I'm not saying we throw him under the bus just yet, but I do NOT think he's ever going to be good enough to take us to a superbowl. Maybe we fix the coaching, the play calling, and what he has around him, and he will improve and change my mind...but I doubt it. He's an OK option until we hit a draft with some better QB options in it. Or through FA...whatever. Imagine this team with Andrew luck or RG3 on it...scary right? Not that we had a shot at it...but if you add one of them, this team wins that play off game. If we had pulled a miracle like Payton manning, this team is a super bowl contender over night. Just food for thought....however unrealistic it may be. We need improved QB play.
Changes to coaching staff:
I'll probably hear some grumbles on this one. Before the game the announcers talked about Zimmer and how he hasn't gotten a shot at a head coaching job. I think it's time. And where better then at Cincy? Marvin lewis needs to go. We have gotten better players, and won more games, but he has still been a mediocre to bad coach throughout. The guys trust Zimmer, and play hard for him. Promote zimmer, get rid of lewis AND gruden. I haven't thought about who to bring in as coordinators, but I say you let Zim pick the defensive coordinator, and people who know more about offensive coordinators should pick that one. I won't pretend I'm qualified.
Changes to Special teams:
Other then letting pacman compete with a new face for kick AND punt returns, I'm happy with the special teams. Good Tackling. Two great kickers, and an amazing punter in Huber. If we can get better on returns consistently this special teams is scary. They have even been great on trick plays.
if we keep drafting well, and now that MB is forced to spend money against the CAP I think we will have the talent here to make the play offs for quite a while. The bengals are OK. We are OK. If we want to be GREAT....I suggest making some of the changes I addressed. I welcome any and all comments. I tried to make this less of a rant and more constructive. Which is why I didn't post it yesterday. Still a fan for life. WHO DEY!