A couple of weeks ago, I posted a picture of my Tuesday Morning Quarterback chair. I sit firmly seated in it now and declare that the answer to the question I posed "Are the Bungles Back?" is an unqualified "yes". Let me tell you why.
It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Pats are a better team than the Bengals. 50 states out of 50 picked them to win. Even all the pin-heads on Monday Night Football picked the Pats over the Bengals. But, in a game where the Cards beat the Steelers, the Browns beat the Ravens and Auburn beat Florida (I know it's college) all in the same weekend, there is a reason they play the game. The Bengals had a shot at knocking off New England and they blew it. My confidence in Marvin is beginning to wane. The Bengals had a lousy game plan. The Pats averaged 38 points a game coming in. That's against normal defenses. Our defense was no good before the injuries. With just four healthy linebackers on the roster going into the game, how did we possibly imagine we could hold them to less than 38 points? So, how many points would it take to beat the Pats? A first grader could tell you we had to put up 39. So, why come out in that conservative offense trying to establish the run? Why not more throws to Ocho-Cinco and T.J. early? We had to take chances to have a chance at winning this game. A conventional game plan with that banged up defense and New England's stellar defense was not going to get it done. We needed to roll the dice, early.
OK, so that's the game plan. Then there are the mistakes. The interception at the end of the first half was a game breaker. Going into the locker room down three would have been a huge moral victory. After listening to all the praise lavished on the Pats before the game by the "pundits", I was ready to turn the channel to Prison Break and save myself the trouble of watching what was clearly going to be a good old fashioned butt-whooping by the Pats. But, the Bengals' defense held their own. The frustrating thing about this team is that on the rare occasion where the defense does step up, the offense seems to go away. The Bengals could have and should have put up 35 points last night. Penalties and mistakes once again killed us. Zero penalties in the first half and eight in the second half (five in the first 10 minutes of the half). Two interceptions by Palmer. When this team has to play flawless ball to beat an opponent that clearly has us outclassed, we just can't step up.
Just three games into the season, my 8-8 prediction is looking like a long shot. We are now 6-11 for the last 17 games and I think 1-6 for the last 7 (or 1-7, I can't remember exactly). This is not acceptable football for a team that was good for a minute. Right now, we are not a good team. I know we're hurt. But, that brings up another point. Is anybody looking at the Bengals conditioning? We had a linebacker get hurt last night on a play where he didn't even hit anybody. Hamstrings, groins, Achilles tendons is anybody stretching? What happened to the Yoga instructor? The frustrating thing is not last night's loss. I don't think anyone would have been surprised at the beginning of the season if told this team would be 1-3 after our first four games. You probably would have assumed Baltimore would shut us down in the first game, we'd throttle Cleveland, Seattle would light it up against us and the Pats would blow us out on both sides of the ball. None of that happened though. What's frustrating is the way we lose games. We pulled out the Baltimore game. But, we gave the Seattle game away with mistakes. We had a good chance to give the Pats a run for their money last night and just didn't get it done. I have to give the team credit for playing as well as they did last night. The defense really stepped it up. But, overall, we just didn't get it done again.
My buddies last night wanted to pick a back up team; a second team to root for. I'm not doing it. I'm sticking with the Bungles till the end. The bye week is coming at a great time. Maybe we'll get some players back. All-in-all 1-3 ain't that bad given our early schedule. We're just a few plays from reversing that number. But, why do those plays seem to elude us?
p.s.- thanks to having to listen to the drivel about the glorious Patriots for an hour last night before the game, they are now officially my most hated team in the NFL. I will root for anyone over the Pats, including the Squealers. I thought Tony what's-his-face was going to run down to the field and propose to Tom Brady. It as a love-fest I was not enjoying at all.
p.p.s- There, it's all out of my system now. Let's hope we can go 3-1 in our next four games and get this season back on track.