I wrote an article last week saying how all Thad had to do was play like Alex Smith and make a few plays in the game. And boy, did he ever do that.
I expected them to have a losing season, new QB, new coach, new everything + really really tough schedule = losing season. I mean, look at this:
NE was a playoff team last year. Car was a team many predicted to go to the playoffs this year. NYJ are better then most thought. Balt was the SB champs. Cle was a team I thought would be really tough b/c of that D and a good solid OL and some weapons. Cinci was a playoff team last year.
But, the problem is, this team could be 6-0 or 0-6 and a few plays have left them at 2-4. They deserve to be 2-4 honestly. I am happy with what I have seen from them. They play gutsy. They play hard. The OC is getting better (perhaps I was too tough b/c like all players, coaches need to grow too). I think the Bills have 2 viable QB options for the rest of the year, Lewis and EJ. Goodbye Tuel, but, we need a real backup now. I think Lewis is better then Tuel.
Here is my ratings:
Passing game: B+ No Stevie, no problem. Chandler and the other kids made some nice plays against a really good Cinci D. They put up 24, 18 more then the Pats did. This loss isn't on them. They exceeded expectations. What stopped this from being an A is the bad play quarters 2 and 3 and the turnover by Thad.
Running game: B. CJ is clearly hurting. Fred didn't play with the same ferocity as he normally plays. I can't believe we got stuffed 4 times RUNNING the ball inside the 2. Just shocked. But, Cinci loaded up against the run and they still did good.
Running Defense D- The only reason this isn't an F is b/c they did show up in the 4th and allowed the O to get back in the game, but, when they needed a stop, they didn't get it.
Passing defense C- They were awful. Leonhard had a nice INT, but, they were soft. Gilmore is handicapped with the cast. They made Dalton look like Brady. The pass rush was handled pretty easily.
I don't hate the 4th down call. Tell you why: We are SUPPOSED to have a good D. If we don't get it in the end zone, we had our "good" D to fall back on. If they hold them to under 2 first downs, they end up with great field position to continue the assault. Instead, our D flashes back to last year's monstrosity and promptly gives up a 98 yard drive. Good going D. Playing at home, crowd going nuts, and they turned THAT performance in. GRRRRRRRRR
I blame the D for this loss. Again, new QB, guys hurt, the D has to step up and they failed. Again.
Wasn't crazy about the punt return game either. I don't understand how our KO return game can be so good, but, our PR can be so maddening? Another big return that killed them in the second half and OT. Too bad really.
Special Teams was a C+. Read above as to why.
Coaching was a B-. It was okay on O, horrible on D, great on KO and KR, so so on PR. I thought Marrone made a gutsy call that sadly didn't work, but, you know what, he should believe in his O AND the D is our strength, so, I don't hate the call.
If they somehow end up 2-14 and lose by an average of 7 pts, look for a big last to first push next year with better depth and quality play from our team.