On Monday, Mickey Mentzer wrote a great post on five things that he took from the Bengals' loss in Chicago to the Bears last Sunday. Before we completely turn the page to "Steelers Week" (as if everybody wasn't there already), I wanted to add on to Mickey's list with a few more Week One observations of my own.
JERMAINE GRESHAM IS PLAYING LIKE A MAN POSSESSED:
After receiving heaps of well-deserved criticism from last season's Wild Card loss to the Houston Texans, Gresham has really seemed to re-focus himself for 2013. A lot of that probably has to do with the drafting of Tyler Eifert, but another element is that he's an impending free agent next year. After seeing many players get new extensions this year, Gresham has a fire lit under himself and it has showed. After proclaiming himself not worthy of an extension to this point, we've seen Gresham carry defenders after the catch all through preseason and into Chicago. Hopefully he continues this throughout the rest of the year.
THE ROOKIES ARE READY TO PLAY RIGHT NOW:
Speaking of Eifert, he was impressive and a mismatch nightmare for the Bears on Sunday. He was used sparingly in the preseason, but was one of Andy Dalton's favorite targets in Week One. He caught every ball that was thrown at him and worked the middle of the field with great success along with Grresham. As for Giovani Bernard? He looks quick and is a nice addition to the offense, as expected. Some wondered about their learning curve and it appears to be minimal.
THE RUNNING GAME NEEDS A NEW APPROACH/GIVE BERNARD MORE TOUCHES:
After watching BenJarvus Green-Ellis plod to a 1.8 yard per carry average and see Bernard sprint to a 5.5 average, questions have to be raised as to why the rookie isn't getting more touches. Especially when Green-Ellis had ten more carries than Bernard and have only three more yards rushing. Make no mistake--this isn't a proclamation to bench Green-Ellis. It's a plea for the offensive scheme to be realigned where The Law Firm gets the tough-yard carries and Bernard takes more on early in the game. Let the little guy gas the defense with his speed early and allow the big guy to seal the game late with hard running when they are fatigued. You could even place both in the backfield at the same time in a wishbone formation and either hand it to Green-Ellis or swing a pass to Bernard. Either way, the rookie appears ready to take on a bigger role. Let him do it.
THE CORNERBACK POSITION IS A GROUP WORTH QUESTIONING:
The Bengals drafted two corners in 2012, including first rounder Dre Kirkpatrick, so they felt that they didn't need to address the position in 2013. One of those players was released during final cuts this year (Shaun Prater) and Kirkpatrick can't get past No.4 on the depth chart. The latter part of that sentence is especially troubling because none of the players ahead of him are superstars. Sure, Leon Hall is a solid NFL cornerback and is one of the most underrated in the league. But, for all that Adam Jones does for the team on punt returns, he is a gambler on defense, whereas Terence Newman is in his mid-30s and might be showing his age. It's just one game and Mike Zimmer's defense usually catches their collective stride after a couple of games, but they were responsible for many third down conversions and the go-ahead touchdown score. Ever since Hall was teamed with the departed Johnathan Joseph as late as the 2010 season, this group has been patched together with duct tape and bubble gum. Hopefully they can make it work the rest of the year.