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This was one of the worst football games I've ever seen. The last time I saw football this bad on Thursday Night, I believe it was the Andy Dalton-led Bengals as well.
I have been an Andy Dalton defender for years, and he deserved it. He's not a star but was due better media and fan treatment than he gets. Look at his winning percentage, career numbers and divisional titles with this formerly sad sack franchise (now sad sack again). Andy Dalton should get a nice sheet cake and receive a nice, slow clap from his fellow employees for a job well done…as they boot his ass right off the team and out of the building. You cannot start Andy Dalton any longer if you're Marvin Lewis. It makes no sense. It makes no sense—big picture—for the organization. Even if it's the owner forcing Dalton... you have to make a change.
Dalton either makes $16M next year or you cut him for a $2.4M hit… so this is the last year Cincy is sucked into Dalton. You can't go forward with him. He's peaked. Your franchise peaked with him a few years ago. It was a nice run, better than the Browns over the past few years. Nothing to be ashamed of for Dalton and Marvin Lewis. But both need to go now. Change of scenery time.
Last week's game was bad enough with the Bengals getting shut out at home after Dalton threw four picks. Everyone has a bad game. Maybe the Ravens defense is way better than anyone realizes? But now, after back-to-back home games without a TD, after you can't even move the ball or complete simple passes on Houston when they lost both starting cornerbacks mid-game… It’s over. You can't expose backup corners on both sides for the Texans? It's over. Dalton is over. It was a nice run.
If the Bengals had utter garbage at backup QB, then this is a different discussion. However, the Bengals have a younger QB with some possibilities. Now is the chance to really see how he works with a near-full season. A.J. McCarron is not a bad quarterback — 6 TDs/2 INTs and a 97.1 passer rating in three starts in 2015. What does it hurt to try? Next week the Bengals play Green Bay. They will lose that game and go to 0-3. Essentially, the season will be over. It’s already over. You give Dalton one more start Week 3 because maybe you owe it to a guy who has delivered more than not for your franchise. After he loses to the Packers, then go to McCarron. If I'm the owner, I overrule everybody and make the change now to try to breathe life into my team and my fan base.
Dalton is done. You have to change him. He's lost the fans. He lost the public a long time ago. It's time to fold and cut any further losses. I’d explore trading him to Jacksonville.
The Dalton change is coming because there's no way they win Week 3 at Green Bay. If they go a fourth game and they lose at Cleveland—and they might even be underdogs in that game—all hell will break loose. It might be Week 3 or 4, but by Week 5 Dalton is done… unless he pulls off a miracle. But this team is dreadful. There's no chance.
It's over. Dalton had a nice, solid career. Now, it's time to try to help the Jags win the AFC South.
Both of the teams in this game are going nowhere, but one of them had to win. Houston did.
Xavier Cromartie was I right about Cincinnati 2017 or was I right?
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Andy Dalton (19-34 for 216 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) missed throws the entire night. His 4th quarter two-minute drill effort was what I would have expected from DeShone Kizer or Blake Bortles. Actually, Dalton was worse than that. Now, it makes Week 1 a little more clear: He missed Cody Core on two TD bombs. He threw bad picks on top of the no-fault “tipped” pass picks. Week 1 wasn’t just a bad game or blip… it's 2017 Andy Dalton… which looks a lot like 2017 preseason Andy Dalton… who looks a lot like awful 2016 Andy Dalton.
-- Dalton looking so bad glosses over how weak Deshaun Watson (15-24 for 125 yards, 0 TD/0 INT) was. The Cincy defense had no respect for him, but even worse his own coach had no respect, constantly running the ball on 3rd down instead of passing. Cincy knew it and stacked the line and stuffed countless first down, efforts forcing punts.
Watson escaped on one play, broke several arm tackles and scored a 49-yard TD… the difference in the game. It came on activity that defines Watson as a QB—drop back, stare down the primary option, and if muddy… run. He cannot read defenses. He was stuffed running the ball all night until that score. It was the difference and it will be heralded as the greatest thing ever by the media. But it was just a fairly mobile QB escaping a listless defense that gave a half effort to try to catch him and didn't.
Watson connected on a few passes late when they needed to move the ball… but somehow the Bengals didn’t realize he was throwing every single pass to DeAndre Hopkins (7-73-0/13). The Bengals have to have the dumbest defense in the history of football. It's a coaching and personnel issue, and Marvin Lewis should be paying for that in a few short months.
Other than hitting Hopkins on timing routes with Hopkins committing pass interference to get open, Watson was pretty rough in this game. He's just not a very good QB for the NFL.
-- Besides how awful everything in this game was, the big fantasy story is the two rookie RBs getting more time in this game.
Joe Mixon (9-36-0, 1-5-0/1) saw a little more time and was the Bengals best runner… but he looked kinda lifeless as well. The Mixon I saw on this night was not the one I fell in love with a few weeks ago. You saw flashes of what he can do in this game: his jump, cutting past J.J. Watt to avoid a TFL and turning it into a gain. Later he literally carried Jadeveon Clowney (4 tackles, 1 TFL) on his back for 3-4-5 yards after a catch. But mostly he looked bored and good but not great.
Just using this game as a judge… I’d rather have D'Onta Foreman (12-40-0) than Mixon. Again, just talking about this game. Foreman entered this game and no one could deny he was ten times a better runner than Lamar Miller (3-26-0, 3-26-0/3). It's not even debatable, but because Bill O'Brien went to an Ivy League school and I didn't… he's smarter at football. To me, he's so bad at personnel it's like he's trying to lose. I'll give another clear example in a moment, but here the team was dying on offense and Foreman gave them a lift… but then disappeared from the action for far too long.
Foreman will be a hot waiver name next week. I love the guy as a talent, but I know O'Brien will go no further than a split with Miller on a team with an offense that will not score much at all. Foreman is stuck in FF purgatory as long as Lamar Miller and Bill O'Brien exist.
Mixon is about to take over in Cincy. It will be a Mixon-Gio split with more work going to Mixon, but not a heavy majority. Jeremy Hill (6-17-0, 1-5-0/1) is done. We all want to see Mixon take over, but how good is this going to be if Dalton is at QB?
Foreman and Mixon are oozing with talent, but are about to be stuck sharing to degrees with legacy backs because old school coaches are too smart for the room… and both RBs are working with QBs who cannot move the team into scoring position.
-- John Ross (1-12-0) made his debut… a WR running play, where he made a nice initial move and sprinted to a nice gain but got clocked at the end and coughed the ball up. Ross did not touch the ball again the rest of the game. That will show him! Who cares if the Bengals best lightning strike weapon doesn’t get the ball as the team flounders on offense and loses? It’s more important to let rookies know they can't fumble.
-- The Bengals may have the worst secondary in the NFL. The funny thing is they may be rated #1 against the pass come next week because they've faced Joe Flacco and Deshaun Watson so far. Aaron Rodgers may throw for 600 yards against them next week.
-- I have written quite a bit about how great UDFA LB Dylan Cole (5 tackles) is and how much better he is than the more lauded Zach Cunningham (6 tackles). Anyone really watching them in the preseason could see that Cole was better than Cunningham.
Who started in place of Brian Cushing this game? Cunningham.
I mean, is Bill O'Brien trying to lose? Dylan Cole gives the defense so many more options because he closes/tackles like a mother, he can rush the passer with high-end speed, and he can cover receivers with that same speed… but he was constantly not on the field when I looked. But I did see Cunningham.
Eventually, Cole will start and become “the man” and an IDP star.
After Houston failed on the first series and punted, Bengals return man Alex Erickson weaved through defenders and was on the verge of breaking the return for a score. Erickson was running by guys like they were standing still. All of a sudden Dylan Cole comes in from behind like a rocket and snatched Erickson and smashed him to the ground. Cole might have saved a score right there.
-- J.J. Watt (6 tackles, 1 PD) didn’t have a sack in this game. That’s two games in a row, but it seemed like he was an inch away from about 3-4 sacks. He's fine. The sacks will come.