Contrary to what Paul Daugherty thinks, Bengaldom is freaking out over the poor performance of the Cincinnati offense in their 30-10 loss to Minnesota last Sunday (get over yourself, Doc). However, solving the team’s woes and giving them a chance in the playoffs is simple. To wit:
Step 1: Stop the stupid penalties.
Step 2: See step 1.
That’s it. And that’s the only hope. There’s no miracle free agent waiting for the phone to ring, and there’s no one buried on the roster (i.e. Jerome Simpson) who’s going to fly in to save the day. The Bengals have what they have, and their only chance is for them to make the most it. Last Sunday, against the Vikings, they failed, piling up 85 yards in penalties — and that doesn’t include Shayne Graham’s inexcusable kickoff out of bounds, which based on previous Minnesota returns cost them another 10 or 15 yards — and giving them a gift field goal at the end of the first half due to a coaching brain cramp.
When you spot an opponent three points and the better part of 100 yards, you aren’t going to win a lot of games in the NFL.
Even if they clean up their act, the Bengals, especially on offense, leave a great deal to be desired. Receivers are dropping too many balls, the o-line is letting too much pressure through to Carson Palmer, who himself could be smarter with the ball and…well…the list goes on. But fix the penalty problem and that can be overcome. The defense is good enough to give even an average offense an opportunity to win, as long as that offense and special teams don’t deliver early holiday gifts to the team on the other sideline.
They had a little more leeway with Chris Henry and Bernard Scott, both of whom provided breakaway threats. Now, Cincinnati has ground-pounder-style running backs, possession guys and typically a whole lot of green between 1st and 10 and the end zone. You can still win with that, but only if you play clean. Word that Scott may be back this week is heartening, but doesn’t change the bottom line: clean up the penalties and they make the playoffs and might even win a game (or three); fail to do so, and they might even miss the postseason altogether.
It’s not too late to blow it, fellas. Time to be a pro.