Here are some random ramblings after digesting Cincinnati’s third loss in a row:
What the Hell, D? Mike Zimmer’s vaunted defense was supposed to be the savior this year. They carried the Bengals’ inept offense all season last year, and stifled opposing playmakers with aggressiveness and discipline. This year, however, the defense has read too many of their praises and have faultered. Often. Aside from two big plays (Leon Hall’s interception and Adam Jones’ scoop and score), the defense was sliced and diced like tofurkey. Over 200 yards for Roddy White. Over 100 for Michael Turner. Missed tackles, clumsy technique and, of course, penalties hurt them again. What’s worse, they cannot stop anyone on third downs. In fact, some of the biggest plays given up have occurred on the most decisive down. And when this team needs a stop, the “D” just can’t get it done. They couldn’t against Cleveland, they couldn’t against Tampa Bay, and they couldn’t against Atlanta. How do you pull back from a 24-3 lead to turn around and quickly surrender another 15 points?
Nice Offense: Meanwhile, the Bengals offense was finally showing what we all thought it was supposed to be. Cedric Benson had some nice runs, but T.O., Chad, and Jordan Shipley abused the Atlanta secondary all day. Carson Palmer looked like the Carson Palmer we all once loved, putting up 412 yards, 3 TDs, and no picks. Aside from Benson’s fumble, and T.O. being unable to stay inbounds on the previous play, the offense acquitted itself well. Finally.
No Huddle Is The Shizz: As I’ve been saying since before training camp, the Bengal offense works best with 3 WR sets, a TE, and no fullback–particularly out of the no-huddle. The Bengals finally incorporated this into their game plan and the results were impressive. Best of all, it wasn’t the kind of ”hurry-up, no slow down, no hurry-up” schizophrenia we’ve been seeing from the no-huddle all year. It was quick, but in rhythm.
Still No Pass Rush: When are we going to actually pressure an opposing QB? We still can’t do it when we send the entire house. What gives? They looked like they’d be scary in the preseason, but no one has showed up to date. This correlates directly to why Cincy’s ability to stop 3rd downs is atrocious.
At 2-4, the Bengals need to hold serve at home against Miami and Pittsburgh over the next two weeks. If they do that, they’ll be .500 at the turn, with ample opportunity to make a run. To do that, they must put together a complete game for the first time all year.
I have some small fleeting faith in Mike Zimmer’s ability to correct the defensive issues. If the offense is truly on its way then there’s still hope.
Fleeting though it might be.