Thought I'd make a fanpost to avoid jumping from post to post with the same comments.
A day later and I'm beyond my Bengals playoff depression that seems to come every year around this time. Upon reflection, I'm finding it hard to see a way out. The general feeling is that Andy Dalton isn't good enough and that's a feeling I agree with. He's one of 6 QBs to lose their first 3 playoff games (Tittle, Kemp, Cunningham, Peyton, Ryan and now Dalton) and while some of those names are pretty good QBs, it's pretty clear that Dalton shrinks when the lights are the brightest. His career QB rating when playing in SNF, TNF, or playoff games is 62.7 with 6 TDs to 11 Ints and a few more fumbles to boot (I think this is accurate...if not, it's close). It's bad.
Now, when watching the game, it's not all on Dalton obviously. Gio fumbled the ball inside the 5 yard line of SD. AJ Green dropped a well thrown pass that would have given us a TD or at least a first and goal. The OL was like a sieve when it has otherwise been solid the last 5 games (mostly due the fact that EVERY single one of them got injured against Baltimore last week). And Gruden, once again, in the biggest game of the year, had Dalton throw 50 times when BJGE was averaging 5+ ypc, including a 30 yard throw downfield on 4th and 3 which turned out to be the game (could have been Dalton's decision, no way to know).
So what do I have to look forward to? No idea. Dalton is only in his third year. Green is only in his third year. Eifert is a rookie. Jones, who broke out this season, is only in his 2nd year. Gio is a rookie. Atkins will be back next year. Hall will be back next year. Still will be back next year. The OL, outside of Collins, should stay in tact. So the talent won't change but should I expect any different results? Probably not. A lot of Bengals fans are calling for the heads of Lewis and Gruden. I don't know if that's the answer. Gruden annoys me in games like this because he gets away from the running game and seems puts a lot of pressure on Dalton to be more than he is. Lewis annoys me because we've been through this many times before. But will a new coach make any difference? Will a new HC magically make Dalton better than he is? Magically make Green catch a big time pass when needed the most? Magically make Gio hold on to a pass inside the 5 yard line? No. So how can I blame them? People say preparation but I have a hard time seeing how preparation will make players make big plays when needed the most.
I'm sitting here complaining about the offense, because it's mostly on them, but when looking at the game, how is it that Zimmer's defenses always shrink in the playoffs? A team that gives up 95 ypg rushing has now given up 150+ rushing yards in each of the last 4 playoff games. That's insane. That should never happen. The defense was the strength, yet like the offense, they forgot how to tackle, forgot to get to the QB and forgot how to fill their gaps. It's unreal. It's like whenever the Bengals get into the playoffs, the last 16 games are meaningless and that really bothers me.
Anyway, my proposal for the future is simple. Re-sign Anthony Collins, keep Whitworth at guard, draft a QB with upside early, let him sit for a year and back up Dalton then let Dalton go after his contract is up in 2014 if he doesn't somehow magically improve in pocket presence, accuracy and decision making. If we do anything other than that, the Bengals will be stuck in QB Purgatory for the next 5-7 years, a team that's able to make it to the playoffs on the strength of it's talent but incapable of winning based on the mediocrity of the QB.
I'm not sure how many more years of the same I can endure.