Here are a few hits after the whistle has blown on Cincinnati’s 19-17 win over that ugly stepsister up north.
1. This was a preview of next season. There was little T.O. and a only a small dash of Chad Ochocinco and the offense looked okay. Cedric Benson made a nice case for keeping him around and the offensive line looked pretty good for once. The young defensive line continues to impress with two more sacks from Carlos Dunlap, who could become a force if he stays motivated and out of trouble in the offseason.
2. Jerome Simpson made an appearance, but celebrated way too much for my taste after two routine catches.
3. Cincinnati needs some serious help at safety. Reggie Nelson and Roy Williams were an underwhelming duo and Keiwan Ratliff whiffed on a touchdown that made the game interesting. Ratliff gets a little bit of a pass considering he just got to Cincy.
4. It was nice to see Andre Caldwell back in action. After a decent season last year, Caldwell got buried behind the circus that was Terrell Owens.
5. Speaking of T.O., buh-bye. Owens is out for the season after tearing his meniscus. T.O. had a good statistical season, but I’m not sure he really helped the Bengals as a team. I think Cincinnati will work best moving forward as a run-based, blue collar team. Which means the team is better off not signing Owens once the season is over (even if he’s a bargain. You hear that Mike Brown? YOU HEAR THAT?)
6. I sure would like to see Cincinnati pay Chad Ochocinco his $6 million option, then trade him. Wouldn’t it be nice to give a new coach a few more draft picks to work with? Wishful thinking. I think we all know how this will end.
7. Mike Zimmer should get first consideration for the head coaching job. Yes, his defense has given up a lot of points this season, but he has overseen the development of a young defensive line and held things together despite losing two entire secondaries (essentially) and a host of defensive linemen. There might be sexier names out there, but I think Zim could turn the ship around.
8. A win is a win is a win is a win. And it feels good.
9. I also think Carson Palmer showed he’s still worth keeping around. There were points left on the field and some miscommunications on a few routes, but with the right scheme and play calling, he can still win a lot of games. He’s a lot better than the guessing games of free agency and the NFL Draft.
10. Next week should be interesting. Which Bengals team will show up now?