I decided to wait a couple days before posting my reactions and thoughts about our loss to the Bears. Dealing with week one is tough. This goes not only for the players, but for fans as well. As a player, the first game is always a struggle. There is a certain amount of rust no matter how you prepare. For younger players, there are those rookie/sophomore jitters that you always hear about. As a fan, you've been building up for this day for months. Anything other than a win is a tremendous letdown due to all the lead-up to the game. For me, I also had to compound that with losing to my girlfriend in two fantasy football leagues. Talk about opening the season the wrong way...
As far as the game went, I was very pleased with how Andy Dalton played. Coming into the season, his play was the number one topic of conversation regarding what the Bengals' ceiling would be. If A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu do what is expected of them, Andy finishes the day with no picks and perhaps as many as four touchdowns to go with his 280 plus yards.
Aside from the three big mistakes made by AJ and Sanu, I was very pleased with what I saw from our receiving corps. Mohammed Sanu has some work to do, but in reality, he isn't our number two receiver. It appears that Gresham/Eifert will be filling that role. We could do a lot worse than that.
Orson Charles is still an unknown. Without a good lead blocker, Benjarvus Green-Ellis is basically useless. Gio Bernard on the other hand, could solve that problem. He'll need to be utilized more though, which is one of the bigger gripes that I had.
The defense, I was less pleased with. For all the talk of how good they are supposed to be, they left a lot to be desired. I wouldn't have guessed them to total zero sacks if given 100 picks. I don't know how to explain that. All I can say is that one game is a small sample size, and hopefully they'll make up for it on Monday.
The decision to only keep five linebackers is looking even dumber than it did to me before this game. Injuries aside, Vontaze Burfict is who we thought he was: The best linebacker on the team. The same can be said for Rey Maualuga, except replace "best" with "worst." I didn't think his play was very bad until that atrocious penalty. There's nothing you or I can say that softens the blow of that play. With his frail psyche and his short rope with the fanbase, he's going to have to get his shit together or strap in for what will be a long season. With all of that said, I am very excited to see Taylor Mays playing linebacker. The position suits his style of play and physical abilities much better than roaming around the secondary.
Speaking of the secondary, their grade is incomplete. While I wasn't impressed, no secondary is going to have a good day when their defensive line plays as poorly as ours did.
The coaching staff would do best to remove their collective head from their rectum, take a deep breath, and move on. There were some extenuating circumstances that caused some of the confusion, but these guys aren't new to this stuff. The management of the end of the first half was terrible. The utilization of Orson Charles and Gio Bernard was confusing, to put it lightly.
In conclusion, if the team can step back, identify the handful of mistakes that were made, and correct them, I think everything will work itself out just fine.