SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 08: Andy Dalton #14 and head coach Zac Taylor of the Cincinnati Bengals have a conversation in the fourth quarter during their game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 08, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Photo: Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Marcus Musings: Bengals frustrate, Steelers forge ahead and the joy of baseball

Before another week of Ohio State news cranks up, let’s kick out some opinions from the past week in sports: 

  • After the reaction to a close loss in Week 1 made the current Bengals feel like the New Browns, they looked like the New Browns have more often than not in an embarrassing Week 2 loss
  • However you perceive it, Zac Taylor is 0-2 as the Bengals coach. I would say they are right on schedule since I did not expect them to win either of those games, but it is hard to ignore just how bad they looked against the 49ers. The final score was 41-17, and it was nowhere near that close. A so-so San Fran team looked like a Super Bowl contender against the Bengals, who were hapless on both sides of the ball but especially defense. There’s something to be said about having to deal with roster limitations, but execution, effort and preparation all appeared to be sorely lacking. 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan had a plan for everything the Bengals wanted to do on defense, and the Bengals offense was held back as it will be all year by its offensive line. Non-franchise quarterback Andy Dalton also made some questionable decisions while the game was still in doubt, but they have so many other problems he will probably fly under the radar for a while. 
  • This, of course, made the insanely positive reaction to losing Week 1 in Seattle even more ridiculous. I regret that I didn’t have time to post one of these columns last week because of travel, but if I had I can assure you I would not have been in the camp arguing there were any moral victories against the Seahawks. 
  • Particularly odd was the notion Taylor having his team dominate the game but lose was somehow an indication he is a good coach? I thought generally we were supposed to conclude the opposite. If the Bengals had hired a more-qualified coach such as Eric Bienemy I probably would have given him the benefit of the doubt in a one-point loss against a better team on the road, but since they hired the failed Cincinnati Bearcats offensive coordinator whose NFL work is not particularly impressive, I’m not inclined to do so. Bottom line is he blinked in the fourth quarter, playing for a field goal with his team down four then punting on fourth-and-makeable later in the quarter. 
  • Andy Dalton said he doesn’t understand fans booing, but he also doesn’t understand leadership or winning meaningful games so maybe that shouldn’t be too surprising. 
  • I don’t know why this is confusing to so many people, but to me booing is a pretty simple concept. Fans express joy and support by cheering while anger, frustration and lack of support come out via booing. Fans are not there solely to support the team. They are there to be entertained and have something to take pride in. There are two sides to the coin, and booing is part of the deal. I don’t support personal attacks on players, but expressing displeasure at a bad performance seems well within reason. 
  • Meanwhile, the Steelers lost their franchise quarterback for the season and still have a rosier outlook than the Bengals. Not only do they get to take an extended look at Mason Rudolph, Ben Roethlisberger's potential successor, they also continued the rebuild of their defense by acquiring Minkah Fitzpatrick, the type of instinctual defensive playmaker the Bengals have lacked for about as long as I can remember. Some folks seem dismayed the team gave up a No. 1 pick to get him, but, uh, since he actually is a No. 1 pick who has already proven he can play this seems like a fair deal to me. 
  • It’s a shame Roethlisberger got hurt, but from a team perspective I don’t think they are much less likely to do anything of consequence this year without him, so a jumpstart on the future could still end up being for the greater good in the long run. 
  • If Rudolph is terrible and they end up with the Dolphins owning their top five pick they could have used on the next potential Roethlisberger successor, this move will have backfired. But if he is good, they just might avoid any painful rebuilding seasons. If he is bad, they will have cost themselves an extra year in the rebuilding process, but that seems like an acceptable risk/reward ratio to me. Meanwhile, the Bengals still need to rebuild their defense and still haven’t shown any indication they are ready to consider what’s next beyond their non-franchise quarterback while the Browns have theirs and the Ravens might, too. 
  • Here’s an interesting comparison of starting lineups worth of NFL players from Ohio State and Alabama: All-22: Which college has the best starting lineup of alums in the NFL, Alabama or Ohio State? Worth noting only one other Big Ten team was close to having a full squad, and it wasn’t anyone from the East. Keep that in mind next time someone starts talking about realigning the conference’s divisions.
  • OK, let’s end on a positive note! This column from Sports Illustrated about the real joy of baseball season is fantastic. I have often thought the best part of being a baseball fan is definitely having something to do almost every night of the summer. It’s why I don’t get that there are people who aren’t baseball fans. Like, what else are they doing to pass the time when they aren’t doing summer things (and often when they are doing summer things because that’s the beauty of radio and now the At-Bat app, too)? I like baseball because it’s entertaining to me and acts as a daily companion. If you don’t like it that’s fine, but I wanted to express myself just in case you do and wanted to know you’re not alone. 

“Marcus Musings” is a semi-regular feature here at the blog. While most of our other coverage is concentrated on news and analysis, this is a place to share opinions on various stories permeating the sports world and (hopefully) have some fun. Have your own thoughts? Send them along to marcus.hartman@coxin.com or find us on Twitter or Facebook. 

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About the Author

Marcus Hartman
Marcus Hartman
Marcus Hartman has been a digital sports columnist and reporter at Cox Media Group Ohio since 2016. 
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