Wednesday, December 20, 2006
That didn't go so well. The Bengals lost to the Colts on Monday Night Football 34-16, in a game that was way less interesting than last year's matchup (or this year's Chargers game for that matter). The reason this game wasn't more competitive was pretty obvious to anyone who tuned in for a few minutes. Peyton Manning dominated the game. The Bengals defensive scheme was to give the Colts anything they wanted underneath....and the Colts took everything they wanted underneath. This was in stark contrast to the Bengals offensive performance, which was marred by dropped passes, terrible pass protection, and a horrid 3rd down conversion percentage. Also, I think a lot of people are disappointed that the Bengals didn't take more shots down the field to exploit the injuries in the Colts secondary. I, for one, am not, and this is probably because every time Carson dropped back to pass the ball, he was in danger of being maimed. He got blown up on a key 3rd and 5 on the Bengals first possession and fumbled, and that pretty much set the tone for the whole game. Andrew Whitworth, Levi Jones' replacement, could not block Dwight Freeney, and, after Willie Anderson left the game, Stacy Andrews (his replacement) couldn't block Robert Mathis to save his (or his quarterback's more importantly) life. It was kind of scary to watch. I'd much rather the Bengals lose this game than see Carson get injured (more on this later). Anyway, time for random thoughts:
1. The Bengals could have really used Chris Perry.
Kenny Watson filled in admirably, but Perry's explosiveness really hurt the Colts last year, and on at least one occasion, Watson was tackled from behind in the open field in a situation where Perry could have taken it to the house.
2. The Bengals could have really used Chris Henry.
Oh wait, he was there? Oh, that was him was alligator-arming all those deep balls and making endzone drops? Shocking.
3. The Bengals have a very hard time against teams when they let the quarterback sit in the pocket and pick them apart.
I could probably count the number of blitzes I saw in this game on one hand. Granted, Manning is a master at making quick reads, but as some point the defensive strategy needed to change, and it never did. For God's sake, Mike Vick carved up this pass defense when he had all day to throw.
4. The Bengals match up very poorly against the Colts.
To beat the Colts you need an explosive runner, a good edge rusher, and a DB who can cover either Wayne or Harrison in man coverage without melting into the field turf. The Bengals have none of the above. Next week's game against the Broncos will certainly not be easy, but facing a rookie QB with a mediocre offense is much preferable for the Bengals D, even if the Broncos D is much better than the Colts'.
5. I wonder if the Bengals wouldn't be better off without Rudi Johnson.
Don't get me wrong, I love Rudi's HHD (that's heart, hustle, and determination, not a venereal disease), but he seemed to be missing a lot of holes last night. Maybe I'm just spoiled by all the LaDainian highlights floating around, but I think the Bengals would be way more dangerous with a flex-type back as a starter. Think Steven Jackson, Maurice Jones-Drew, or even Kevin Jones; a guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield and break off big runs, but still pound it in when he needs to. Chris Perry looked like he might be that guy eventually, but then he came down with a mean case of Ki-Jana-itis (or Ki-Jaundice, if you prefer). A shame.
I do think though, that Rudi would be a better fit for a ball control team that wears you down with the run.
6. The Bengals need a healthy O-line if they are going to do anything this year/ever.
Levi Jones, Rich Braham, and Willie Anderson were all out last week, and it showed. Hopefully, at least two of three will be ready for Sunday. If they aren't, and Carson is getting pressured this much next week, I say let Anthony Wright run the show. I'm serious, if Palmer gets hurt because he's playing behind three rookies and trying to make the playoffs in a year where the Bengals don't have a legitimate chance to win it all, I will never forgive Marvin Lewis. This team has a great future, but if Carson goes down again, it may be back to the Lost Decade part II.
7. Bengals fans will never forget the Lost Decade.
It haunts the recesses of our minds, and on nights like Monday, it haunts the opposite of the recesses (class time?) too. I was surrounded by Bengals fans twitching and moaning (myself included) all night on Monday. Even when the Bengals weren't actually fucking up, people were getting upset. That's because the game followed a pattern we were all too familiar with. Bengals tease us with glimmer of hope (1st half fumble recovery and ensuing TD), then proceed to put tiny daggers in our hearts (10 yard completion after 10 yard completion...). At the end of it, the scene was kind of like being around a bunch of recovering heroine addicts trying not to fall back into their old habits after taking some methodone. Let's hope that the Broncos game doesn't make us chase the dragon.