Michael Silver with the NFL Network wrote a column on Monday with the general theme that Andy Dalton (and Matt Schaub) are not a championship-caliber quarterbacks. Granted, I find these post-game perspectives after a bad game a bit premature, but it's not uncommon to hear those perspectives randomly generated throughout the calendar year. What really stood out to me was toward the bottom, which we highlighted (aka, boldeded).
Though the Bengals spent high draft picks last April on a halfback (Giovani Bernard) and tight end (Tyler Eifert) to complement star wideout A.J. Green and give Dalton additional firepower, Dalton's not showing signs of developing into anything more than a decent quarterback. And it isn't just a matter of putting forth underwhelming performances in games: Sources say Dalton also routinely produces uneven efforts on the practice field and that coaches, rather than admonishing him to improve, tend to offer primarily positive reinforcement.
Setting aside the usual reactions for Silver pieces that site unnamed sources, when reflecting on this, does it surprise you? Are thinking to yourself, well, it could be true. And if you're thinking with that perspective, does it make you sick that instead of promoting growth with the team's third-year quarterback, they're treating him like a child at the age where even losers receive trophies?
Personally, I don't buy it. What logical reason would the Bengals have to use "who's a big guy" responses to a disappointed quarterback who struggled during practice or games? How does that help anyone, including Dalton or at the very least the future of the Cincinnati Bengals? Do they believe that his ceiling was already reached? Is it a personality deficit that's unable to absorb criticism?
It's usually the best day after a dramatic win and the worst after discouraging defeats. And they're exponentially worse when you consider that it was the Cleveland Browns that beat Cincinnati. A talented team with decent coaches rebuilding a program, sure. But it's the Cleveland Browns; the team up north; the mistake by the lake; the team that fired the legendary Paul Brown whose name is the name of the team.
This is the same Browns team that the Bengals had beaten seven of the last nine meetings; that strings together the occasional possession to make it interesting towards the end; despite the historical nature of a fierce rivalry with final scores that proposes deep (and involuntary) anxiety.
Yet, while the Bengals were embarrassingly bad (how many times has that termed been used), the Cleveland Browns have an impressive enough foundation on defense to really build upon. From T.J. Ward, Joe Haden, to Phil Taylor, Jabaal Sheard, and Barkevious Mingo, these players are young enough to build a quality team in a division that was once difficult to compete in.
Given a few more pieces and the Browns have an opportunity to really contend in the shifty AFC North. On the offensive side of the ball, Jordan Cameron is a talented tight end and Josh Gordon could developing to something scary if he keeps his head straight and nose clean. And maybe Brian Hoyer is a short-term answer that develops into a long-term solution, who knows.
My point is that the Browns weren't necessarily the team that we believed them to be. Waving the white flag after trading Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts? As if.
That's not to say that the Browns are a better team than the Bengals. Even at this moment, I believe that the Bengals are the best team in the division with the best roster from top to bottom. There are issues that require some attention, but the Browns deserve some credit. Hell, they've beaten the Bengals in two of the last three games. You can only call it embarrassing so many times before you realize that this is what you're voluntarily producing.
A Positive Perspective
Setting aside tie-breakers with 12 games remaining in the 2013 regular season, the Cincinnati Bengals are currently tied for first place in the AFC North after the Baltimore Ravens lost. Pittsburgh is currently slated to pick first or second in the 2014 NFL draft.
The season can go in any direction, but there's a little satisfaction in saying that the Bengals are tied for first and the Steelers have one of the worst records in the NFL (based on tie-breakers). End: childish glee.
MLB Wins Again
For the second time in as many months, a National Football League game will change due to a scheduling conflict in Major League Baseball. The first was when the Baltimore Ravens traveled to the Denver Broncos during the Thursday Night opener to kickoff the season. Traditionally, the reigning Super Bowl Champion open the season at home, but since Camden Yards and M&T Bank Stadium share the same parking lot, it was the Ravens that were forced to change.
In that regard, it made sense. Major League Baseball's schedule was already set when Baltimore won the Super Bowl and by the time the issue was raised, accommodations fell to the Ravens.
Now the NFL is moving the Oakland Raiders home game against the San Diego Chargers, originally scheduled for 1:25 p.m. (PT) due to the Oakland Athletics hosting a playoff game Saturday night. Since both teams share the same stadium, time is needed to convert O.co Coliseum into a football stadium.
Lap on AJ 's body language: I don't like it. It sends a bad message to his teammates and to the opponent. #Bengals— Lance McAlister (@LanceMcAlister) October 1, 2013