I'll try to stay positive, despite being utterly disappointed in losing this very winnable game.
One thing that is very encouraging going forward is that Andy Dalton looks pretty good. Even the first pick he threw wasn't that bad. You count on your best receiver to win the fight to a spot, and AJ came out a little flat. Obviously the second interception was AJ's fault. Just lost focus for a second. It happens. Andy was moving the ball efficiently the entire game. His receivers coughed up ball after ball. Penalty after penalty killed us. It wasn't a tremendous amount of penalties, but they all seemed to come on key plays.
Things to take away from that is that our QB looks good, we can move the ball. These are problems that can be fixed. Our receivers need to have an entire practice focusing on ball security. AJ green is a superstar. We already knew it, but he showed up today. A couple of key plays hurt us, but he didn't get a lot of action in the preseason and looks to be just getting started.
Things that killed us.
The cough up by Sanu was the straw that broke the camel's back. Dre Kirkpatrick giving up a penalty right before half that lead to a monster field goal, a field goal that was the difference at the end of the game. In all fairness though, that was a late hit on Kirkpatrick, and should have been flagged, which would have meant offsetting penalties. Orson Charles gets flagged for a hold that wiped out a big gain. Same thing for Andre. We had chances to put this game away, and stupid mistakes killed us. I honestly believe we got beat by an inferior team. We all see the talent.
Misuse of time outs. You have to get the right amount of people on the field. That was ugly. It's the first game of the season so I'm sure it gets fixed, but holy wow that was huge.
Rey Maualuga. I will preface what I'm about to write, by saying that all and all, Rey played pretty well. The first touchdown pass he got his finger tips on the ball. Nice catch. I can live with it. He missed a key tackle on the last drive against Bush that could have gotten the Bengals D off the field. And then comes the penalty at the end of the game. I understand the guy blocking him went over board. I wouldn't have been entirely surprised if that had been a flag. He's supposed to be a leader on this team. Getting a foul that gives them the first down and effectively ends the game, is COMPLETELY INEXCUSABLE. You just can't do it. His emotions got the best of him on that one. Sour note to end the game on. Rey misread a couple of runs, but all and all played pretty well.
We really need to stop stretching out the field on runs by BJGE on first down to the left side. 5 times we ran that same play and netted probably -12 yards total on it. Let Gio make those runs if you're determined to be predictable with your play calling on first down. At times the play calling looked great, but that run was really starting to bother me.
Geno Atkins? Did he play this game? I really wasn't paying attention if he was getting doubled the whole time, but he was nowhere to be found here at all. I'll have to go back and look to see what was going on with him. Dunlap and Johnson were in the backfield a lot, so maybe that's why.
Our D line honestly disappointed me a lot. Very little pressure on Cutler, and let him out of the pocket time after time. The Bears started 2 rookies that did an amazing job on us. I really thought we'd get a couple of sacks. Not one today. Hopefully we really come together. Obviously we have the talent. I really think that besides the turnovers, the D line was the biggest reason we lost this game. Usually our pass rush makes our secondary better. That wasn't the case today. Chicago has 2 big strong receivers and Cutler has a cannon for an arm. You can see how bad he looked on the one throw we got a hand on him. If we get a few sacks instead of the few plays cutler escaped and made big conversions, this game is also out of reach.
I would have liked to see a little bit more Giovanni Bernard. He looks really quick out there, and you always have the feeling he's about to break off a big one. Tyler Eifert looked good. Solid hands, strong guy. And Gresham. My God. This is the Gresham I have been waiting to see. It took 3 or 4 guys to tackle him every time he touched the ball. He was a third down monster.
If we had cut down the turns overs, fixed our time outs, and a few less penalties, and all the sudden we win in a blow out. So as dissapointed as I am in the loss, I'm still pretty optimistic about the Bengals this season. Not to mention the Ravens got completely blown out, and the Steelers looked pathetic. The browns got beat by a mediocre Dolphins team by 10. I still think we win this division...we've got some work to do though. I think we can eat the Steelers alive next week during primetime foot ball and no one will remember how we can one away at Soldier field the week before. Here's to hoping.
Feel free to leave your thoughts.