— This game was a shining example of why I had to make the tough call of ditching the Steelers-DST after all the injuries from Week-1. The Steelers still have a very good defense, and they held Cincy up as long as they could—including locking down A.J. Green (6 rec. for 41 yards on 14 targets). However, the Steelers cannot sustain drives with a depleted offensive line, nor with the worst Offensive Coordinator in the NFL. Eventually, it catches up to the Steelers-Defense, giving up an extra score, and the other team playing safe (lower D-TD opps) because they don’t care if they have to punt it back to the Steelers-Offense.
The Steelers have a talented defensive group. Rookie Jarvis Jones (8 tackles, 7 solo) looked as promising as advertised in his debut as a starter. FFM fave Shamarko Thomas (4 tackles, 3 solo) saw extra time in this game as well—due to several injuries in the secondary. Given all the Steelers’ issues, this was a pretty solid performance by their defense on the road—but that does not mean squat for FF purposes.
The Steelers schedule is pretty favorable ahead (CHI-MIN-BYE-NYJ-BAL-OAK), but it’s likely that their DST is not going to capitalize big on it for FF. This is causing me defensive chaos right now, as it has many of you. My Week-2 non-Steelers gambles were more FF-wrong than FF-right. The FF-DST scene, after Seattle, is complete chaos. The top-8 FF defenses right now are KC-DAL-TB-TEN-MIA-SEA-BUF-DET. The odds will fall back in line over time, but right now it is mass confusion. We’re just going to have to keep navigating our way through the landmine infested waters right now.
— I’ve about had it with Andy Dalton’s (25-45 for 280 yards, 1 TD/0 INT) mommy issues with A.J. Green. Dalton has two very good non-A.J. Green WRs in Mohamed Sanu (5 rec. for 40 yards on 8 targets) and Marvin Jones (3 rec. for 35 yards on 4 targets), not to mention his unique TE weapons. With all that, Dalton still looks for Green, even when he is not covered. In this game, the Steelers put extra attention Green, and Dalton still tried to force it in there. Green ran the wrong routes/had a disconnects with Dalton the whole night—still Dalton kept trying to force it to Green against Ike Taylor. This is why no matter how great an assembly of talent the Bengals haul in–they cannot go to the next level as an offense until Dalton uses his weapons more equally distributed.
— There will be a Gio Bernard (8 carries for 38 yards and 1 TD, 1 rec. for 27 yards and a TD on 2 targets) frenzy this week, because that’s what we do when rookies do something good early. We are particular about how excited we get on our two-week superstars. Eddie Royal = skeptical, and a chuckle. Gio = Canton-bound.
Giovani Bernard is like 50+ other RBs on the NFL. Cedric Peerman was doing the same thing last year for the Bengals. Gio was left open on his receiving TD–he caught a short crossing pass, the defense was focused on everything else, and Gio went untouched into the end-zone. It wasn’t special, it was normal. It was also one of his two targets for the game. Gio is capable, but he is not a game-changer (rare few are). The Bengals have an old-school offense—they are going heavy on BJGE in 2013, with Gio as a nice compliment. When it comes to 3rd down, I don’t see Gio much at all on the field. Gio is the Bengals poor man’s Joique Bell minus being the goal-line back.
— How good did Tyler Eifert (3 rec. for 66 yards on 5 targets) look early in this game? Not good enough to keep throwing to him and exposing him as a mismatch weapon, and not good enough to not keep throwing to a double-covered, ran the wrong route every other targets A.J. Green, but Eifert was good. Eifert is going to be a force, eventually…