Paul Brown Stadium has become a second grade playground and the Bengals offense and defense are best friends playing on the seesaw. Unfortunately for us this means that when one is up, the other must be down. When the offense drives down the field and scores a touchdown to pull within one score of tying or taking the lead in a game (up), the defense turns around and lets the other team drive right back down the field in the opposite direction and add some points to their lead (down). When the Bengals are down by a score or less and the defense gets a turnover and gives the ball back to the offense in good field position (up), the offense turns it right back over or goes three and out (down).
Unfortunately, the physics of a seesaw don't allow both sides to be up at the same time. The Bengals definitely picked the wrong toy on the playground to play with and they know it.
"I don’t know if there’s a worse feeling than losing a bunch of games," quarterback Carson Palmer said. "This is definitely a low for this group and a low for myself but in no way are we packing it in."
It's human nature to point fingers when things don't go the way they are supposed to go. I blame everybody and anybody, except for myself, when things don't go right in my life, but right now I'm having a hard time picking who to blame for the product that I payed the price for tickets and a seat license to watch on Sundays.
I can point my finger at the coaches. Four weeks of saying "we failed to execute" after losses only to fail to execute again the next week can easily be blamed on poor coaching. The play calling has been bad for much of the season and on a day when the running game had some shining moments, the fact that Benson was not given the ball on one of the many third-and-short situations is bad play calling.
The players can be blamed too - after all, the coaches aren't the ones taking the snaps and tackling people. Carson Palmer has struggled to put the ball where it needed to be on certain throws. Benson has missed holes. The offensive line has struggled to block. The wide receivers have run the wrong routes and dropped passes. The defensive line cannot get pressure on any opposing quarterback... ever. The secondary has blown coverages. Possibly the worst thing that I've noticed, though, is the complete lack of leadership, passion and emotion on the field. Maybe it's just me but I have the feeling that half of the players are just saying what they think the fans want to hear after a loss. "We just didn't execute today and we're going to work hard bla bla bla bla bla" Obviously it wouldn't be cool for players to lose and then laugh about it in the press conference that the fans who pay their salaries watch.
It's everything and it's so frustrating.
"We can play football and do things correctly and then we can play not as smart as we need to sometimes," Lewis said. "We didn’t make enough plays in special teams to carry us over the hump and we didn’t get them stopped enough defensively when we needed to. We know the focus when we get the ball, but we’ve got to man up and play those things."
These run-of-the-mill excuses for the team's inability to perform the way an NFL team who won the division last year have lost their meaning. The things that were wrong in the preseason and early in the regular season are the same things that are wrong now. I've never been a huge "fire the coach in the middle of the season" guy and I'm still not but I do know that something needs to change for this team. Carson Palmer says that this is an all time low for this group of guys. It's an all time low for a lot of fans too. I'm no exception.
But, hey, on the lighter side of things, the Bengals can still go 8-1 and have a legitimate shot at making the playoffs. So.... there's always that to cling to. I'm sure it's just a fools hope but I've been known to be a fool every now and again. Who's with me?