My head is still spinning between "What the hell just happened?" and "Oh yeah, I remember these guys." But I want to say up front that I'm proud of our team for the season they had and the character of the team. There are no Bengals fans here so I'd like to bounce some thoughts off smarter fans than me. No discernable train of thought or insight to follow....; )
Attacking Offense Backfired:
First, when did our offense go from playing Ball Security Game Manager Andy 'Marvin Ball' to 'We're better when we're attacking'? Personally, I was ecstatic that our mindset changed but now I'm questioning the results, or maybe just the timing. Yes you might say Andy just hit is ceiling and that might be right. But it seemed like Andy was pushing against Baltimore and San Diego. He had one pick in the previous four games. I guess I don't think it was just Andy's plan to start slinging it. I wonder if Marvin and Jay started feeling more confident based on the way our home games had gone and decided to ask Andy to 'take that next step' and make more plays. Which seems sound based on the available weapons and a D that can erase a lot of mistakes. I don't know. I'm confused why Andy took some of the sacks(instead of throwing the ball away) and risky throws today and last week. Marvin used so say 'Andy needs to learn that a punt is not always a bad thing'. But I think now he is pushing. Maybe I'm wrong here. But it we are pushing... then were they nervous about our new punter? Were we losing confidence in our depleted defense with decreasing pass rush? Or was it always the plan to open up the offense in the last quarter for a playoff run? If the Marvin Ball to Attacking change happened in the laster quarter of the season as I'm suggesting then Andy clearly wasn't ready. Unfortunately, I think a few more incompletions and punts instead of turnovers could have been all we needed today. But, there was more going wrong today than Andy pushing which leads me to my second thought.
The Big Stage:
Second, I can't get over how flat this team plays on the national stage. The other team always seems to come out on a whole other level of intensity. I've criticized Marvin for this in the past but I've been so impressed with our team this year I thought maybe I was wrong. Then Pittsburg happened and today happened. I'm not sure any game plan is going to work when your team is just getting pushed around. (not completely I know, but in key situations) I don't think Marvin believes in playing on emotion alone, which is smart. He teaches technically sound football, which is also smart. But damn it man! Thats not enough when the stakes are raised! I thought Vontaze, Harrison, Big Whit, BJGE and the other vets would ensure the killer instinct was there but it just didn't happen. I think this is on players and coaches, but our players seem great and are giving 110%. If they're not getting to the next level of drive, focus, and intensity, then its because they don't know how or they are somehow held back. So I think this falls on Marvin. Something in his approach is lacking but I don't pretend to know what it is. For the record I'd much prefer that Marvin figure it out than bring someone else in, but hiding the Division Champs hats and new t-shirts at training camp aren't going to cut it.
No declarations here or demands. Just wondering if anyone else thinks the same way. Please let me know what you think...Be kind...I'm sensitive ; )