Flush That Game. And Spray Afterwards.


Well, that old Bengals bad luck that soured many a season returned in full force today, leaving the Bengals with a troubling 28-17 loss to the Texans and perhaps a few devastating injuries. As bad as the defense was – and it was bad, letting Matt Schaub throw for 392 yards and four touchdowns – I’m giving that unit a pass. Not many teams could survive the loss of two defensive lineman and still perform well on that side of the ball.

More troubling to me is the offense’s lack of production (namely zero points in the second half)  against a mediocre defensive unit. The offense is now showing a pattern of ineffectiveness and it’s going to muck things up if it doesn’t get fixed. Here are a few of my thoughts heading into what is now becoming a huge home game next week against Chicago:

1. This team needs Andre Smith. It is obvious that the Bengals want to be a power running team, but they just don’t have the personnel to completely dominate up front. I think Smith, even though he is a rookie, will give them an upgrade at right tackle and will improve the Bengals running game – if he’s healthy. Hopefully, Smith can enter the lineup after the bye week, perhaps as a tight end in some jumbo packages against Baltimore.

2. Chase Coffman needs to spend every minute he can working on his blocking. I’m guessing that Coffman would be on the field by now if he wasn’t a complete liability in pass protection. But Coffman was inactive and the Bengals tight ends accounted for two fumbles and at least one drop. Coffman’s speed and hands would create serious matchup problems considering the other guys are getting open (J.P Foschi and Dan Coats) and they’re not exactly fleet-footed. Maybe Coffman can get some red-zone snaps after the bye week as well.

3. The Bengals have to find a pass rusher in the absence of Antwan Odom. Odom was by far the Bengals best rusher and the pass rush today was anemic after he left. Michael Johnson hasn’t been as fast on the edge as I thought he’d be and  Geathers is just adequate on the other side. Here’s hoping both (or perhaps “Snowman” Rucker or Jon Fanene) will elevate their games in his absence. Maybe Rey-Rey can even blitz more if they add an extra backer in passing situations.

4. I don’t want to lose Domata Peko at all, but I think the Bengals at least have some depth behind him. Pat Sims played well at the end of last season and Tank Johnson is pretty good when he’s healthy. If Peko is indeed out, I wouldn’t be surprised if John Thornton gets a phone call. He’s probably still in good enough shape to give the Bengals a few snaps back there if needed. And I’m sure Big John would love to be a part of this Bengals playoff push.

5.  The offense misses Brian Leonard. BL would have been worth at least one or two more first downs and they simply don’t have anyone else who can replicate what he does. Leonard can block, run or catch on third-down and does all of it pretty well. Instead, I think the tight ends got an enhanced role yesterday and we all know how  that turned out.

6. I want to see more of Bernard Scott. Scott has showed flashes of explosiveness, but hasn’t been given the opportunity to do a whole lot. He’s a perfect change-of-pace back and has the ability to break a big play every time he touches the ball. Ced Benson is going to need some rest as we head into the second half of the season and Scott is the man for the job. He should be getting at least five touches a game and maybe more as the season continues.

7. I think this Bengals team will respond. It might help if Chicago beats Atlanta tonight and is primed for a letdown at PBS, but this Bengals squad has responded well all season so there’s no reason to think they will quit now. Next week’s game is a huge one and the team needs every fan to put together a solid tailgate performance and create some serious volume at next week’s late 4:15 kickoff. If the team can win again and enter the bye week in first place at 5-2 (perhaps alone at the top if Pittsburgh loses to Minnesota) I think order and optimism will be restored.