What a complete and utter disaster.
After a stunning 9-7 run in 2011 that saw the Cincinnati Bengals make the postseason, the anticipation for this scrappy group's debut in 2012 was higher than ever. How did they respond?
With the loudest thud of any team on opening weekend. The Ravens waxed the Bengals, 44-13.
Let's not waste time—what kind of grades did the pitiful performance get tonight?
That grade may be pretty generous, considering how many awful throws Andy Dalton made tonight. He was constantly overthrowing receivers and only showed success on screen passes.
Not that it was all his fault—the offensive line was completely dominated by the Baltimore defense. Jeff Faine couldn't stop a turtle, Clint Boling looked lost and the other guys were average.
The biggest cause of concern here was certainly Dalton's struggles to hit his receivers that were more than five yards away from him. It was his biggest criticism coming out of TCU last season. It's hard to try to summarize any effects the receivers may have had, just because usually, they didn't have much of a chance to catch any passes.
Eh, I'll take one positive—Andrew Hawkins is a solid receiver.
Perhaps the only bright spot of the game was the debut of BenJarvus Green-Ellis. His stats weren't anything particularly impressive, but when you consider what kind of runner Green-Ellis is, his near 100-yard performance is something to smile about.
I refuse to give credit to his blockers. Green-Ellis found his own holes and often succeeded despite the struggles of the offensive line.
At least with a score and a 100-yard performance, Green-Ellis gave Cincinnati the one thing to smile about—things are looking up on the ground.
Overall Grade: C
I was generous with Andy Dalton's grade, so I have to be a little generous with this one, too. BenJarvus Green-Ellis made this grade basically on his own.
The offensive line was pitiful. Dalton was ineffective and lost. The receivers couldn't be helpful because of those things. From that, the team should be receiving a D.
However, like I said on the last slide, Green-Ellis had a pretty good game and he should be recognized for showing some sort of offensive life.
Things have got to get better, and quick.
Overall Grade: D+
The only positive that came from the "talented" defensive line tonight was the couple sacks by Geno Atkins—he didn't look too bad.
Still, look at Joe Flacco's stats. He was never under pressure—never. The line couldn't get past a rather mediocre Ravens offensive line and flush Flacco out. Plus, they had no answer for Ray Rice.
Atkins and Domata Peko tied for the most tackles on the line with two.
Overall Grade: D
When you look at tackles, it doesn't appear that the linebackers did this bad. Oh, how wrong that assumption would be if you made it.
Dropping back into zone coverage, all three of them were awful. Manny Lawson continued to show why he's never panned out in the NFL—he can't defend the pass and he cannot blitz.
Rey Maualuga actually dropped a couple of interceptions and then forced Thomas Howard to drop another. All three men would shift on the fakes to Ray Rice, leaving the middle of the field wide open. That led to Baltimore tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson having a lot of chances to catch the ball.
Just when you thought it couldn't get worse...
Overall Grade: F
Good lord—how bad can one unit be? Especially with names like Leon Hall, Nate Clements and Terence Newman.
Joe Flacco shined tonight against this pathetic squad of NFL players—yes, they actually are NFL players.
Leon Hall did not look like himself, which isn't totally unexpected, but for him to come back looking that weak was rough to watch. Newman was basically a non-factor and Taylor Mays continued to make stupid plays because he doesn't know how to play football.
Line him up against Kevin Zeitler, and I'm betting Zeitler beats him. Clements is old, past his prime and can't guard anyone. He was outrun by everyone all night and then showed his carelessness by committing a blatant pass interference in the end zone.
If anything is going to kill this team, it will be the secondary.
Overall Grade: F
Yeah, 40-plus points against any team will earn you that grade. When you consider that Baltimore isn't really an offensive juggernaut, it becomes a big-time fear.
Let's hope that Monday night's performance was merely a very large bump in the road for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Right now, I feel like we're back in the late 90s.