--Not that it's critical at this point, but a decision needs to be made about the status of Carson Palmer. A good number of people believe he will be, or should be, IRed, whether he chooses surgery or continued rest for his throwing arm. Marvin Lewis continues to be non-committal about Palmer's long-term prognosis. Palmer's plan now is to consult with more specialists while he visits California during the team's time off for the bye. For me, it's hard to believe he could hear enough good news to make it worth his while to chance coming back to the team for the rest of this so-far-miserable year.
--The coaches need to give serious thought to making Cedric Benson the "feature" back and re-installing Chris Perry as the third-down back. As I've noted in another blog, Benson has shown promise in being able to carry the load. They need to find out for sure if he can. Of course, if Perry continues to suffer from a chronic case of fumblitis, they can continue to let him spend more time on the bench. Having the run back as a consistent element of their game will make the Bengals a better team the rest of this year, and Benson certainly appears to be more of a threat than any runner the Bengals have used to this point in the season.
--The team needs to get healthy. Several players are still contending with nagging injuries, and the bye comes at a perfect time for some healing to take place. The defensive secondary, in particular, is dinged up. Moves have been made to put some players on the IR, sign some players to the practice squad, and move some guys onto the regular roster. The amazing aspect of this is that the secondary continues to perform fairly well, sitting at 9th overall in average pass defense, allowing about 194 passing yards per game. Not great, but pretty good for a defensive unit that has its own MASH on call.
--Missed opportunities. In Week One, the Bengals lost to the Ravens by 7. In Week Three, they lost to the Giants by 3. In Week 4, they lost to the Browns by 8, and in Week 5, to the Cowboys by 9. A better team wins at least two of these games. They should have beaten both the Cowboys and the Giants. They let another one slip away against the Jets, a game in which the offense failed to capitalize on two timely interceptions. The two out-and-out blowouts were against the Titans in Week Two, a lopsided 24-7 affair, and against the Steelers in Week Seven, a game in which the Bengals completely fell apart in the fourth quarter and were rocked by a final score of 38-10. That game led to a 35-6 drubbing at the hands of the Texans, a game that was out of their hands from the start. So, if the Bengals had been able to win four games of their eight losses, their record would be 5-4 instead of 1-8, and we might realistically be talking playoffs. Yeah, and if a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn't bump his ass a-hoppin'.
--Talk is cheap. Some of the Bengals' players are now waxing eloquent about "running the table" to finish the season at 8-8 and possibly getting a Wild Card bid for the playoffs. I don't know what they're smoking, but this is about as likely as me waking up tomorrow with my feet firmly planted on the surface of the Moon. In fact, that might be more likely. The Bengals just need to take the rest of their games one at a time and work to play well enough not to embarrass themselves. The first test of their new perspective happens as soon as they come back from the bye, against a tough Eagles team. I think the Bengals can beat the Eagles, but I also don't think a win is likely. I'd love for them to prove me wrong.
More random thoughts on the bye week as these occur . . .