1) Life with limitations. The Bengals are dealing with this right now.
On Sunday, we saw the impact of an offensive coordinator, to an extent. The Bengals were better on offense because their better players were emphasized. I believe that Jeremy Hill getting such a prominent role in the first two games was more a result of a directive from Marvin Lewis and less about Ken Zampese, but you can't help but make the connection between a new guy calling the plays and 31 touches between Joe Mixon and AJ Green.
The coordinator can control that.
What he has little control over, is the talent he's working with. The Bengals do not have a good offensive line, and for all of his many attributes, Andy Dalton is a limited quarterback. Bill Lazor might possess the world's most brilliant football mind, but he's only got so much to work with.
Dalton was fine on Sunday. 21 for 27 with two TDs, no picks, and a 124.1 passer rating ranks as a good performance.
The problem is that the Bengals' margin for error is such that on a good day for Dalton statistically, the plays that mattered most were the ones he didn't make. He took two sacks that he shouldn't have - including one that bumped Randy Bullock's field goal attempt by eight yards. He had an intentional ground call on a play that had Brandon LaFell wide open. There was a downfield throw to a wide open LaFell that, if he connects, probably ices the game. His pocket awareness remains a problem.
If this reads like nit-picking, it's because it is. Andy's body of work at Lambeau was fine. And handful of plays were not. When you're as limited as the Bengals are, near-perfect quarterback play - specifically against good teams - is required.
Andy's biggest flaw on Sunday was that he wasn't perfect.
2) Different year, same story.
Few things have been as frustrating as wondering on a week-to-week basis if Tyler Eifert will be able to play. After missing Sunday's game in Green Bay, he has now missed nearly 42% of the regular season games the Bengals have played since the beginning of his rookie year in 2013.
I feel for him, because I hate it when talented guys don't get a chance to do what they're great at, and when he's healthy, Tyler can be great.
I hate it for the Bengals, because they have no one else like him, and they're so much better when he's available.
But he can't be counted on, which is a harsh thing to say, but unfortunately rings true. If the Bengals are going to turn this season around, they'll probably have to do it with Tyler Eifert.
And moving forward, they'll have an important decision to make about how far they'll go to keep him, what position he'll play (tight end calls for more contact than wide receiver), and how they'll fill a role that his injuries often leave vacant.
The idea this season was that the Bengals would thrive with an offense that had such a wealth of weapons. That idea was predicated on Tyler Eifert playing in an abundance of their games. It's fair to doubt that that'll happen.
3) An updated list. I mentioned on yesterday's blog about our trip to Lambeau Field that we stopped off in Chicago on Friday on the way to see the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field and in Milwaukee on Saturday to see the Brewers at Miller Park.
I'd never see a White Sox home game, but I had been to Miller before.
Guaranteed Rate was the 21st big league stadium I've been lucky enough to visit, a list that includes a few parks that are no longer around.
I posted a few pics of our visit Friday on social media, and some chimed in asking for a ranking of the parks I've been to. I did this in 2014, before I visited Fenway for the first time, so here are the updated rankings....
1) Wrigley Field. I love to laugh at the Cubs as much as anyone, but Wrigley is my favorite place on earth. And if you're not sitting in the bleachers, you're not really at Wrigley. (Mind you, I wrote this in 2014, back when it was still reasonable to laugh at the Cubs. It's become passe to love Wrigley as much as I do, with how corporate the place has gotten, but you can still hang out in the bleachers, have a blast, and look out onto the field and imagine what the place looked like 70 years ago. It's awesome, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise)
2) PNC Park. So many people have gone to PNC and loved it, that it's now en vogue to call the place overrated. Nonsense. It's got the prettiest view of any park I've been to.
3) Camden Yards. One of the best pulled-pork sandwiches I've ever had, and some guy who works there let me watch the last two innings Homer Bailey's first no hitter on a concourse TV, much to the dismay of angry Baltimore fans.
4) Chase Field. Best hot dog and the ushers make you wait until there's a stoppage before charging down the aisle.
5) GABP. That's right, top five. I'm a homer. I have too many great memories in that ballpark not to give it a high ranking.
6) Comerica Park. I like the standing-room area in the outfield. Also, a woman once gave me $20 to retrieve her son from the men's room.
8) Fenway Park. It's not as high on my list as it is others. I love the park's history, but it's not a very comfortable place to see a game, and well, in my three visits, I didn't encounter very man friendly people, and people kinda make the experience. I do love the Bleacher Bar just outside Fenway in center field (which allows for a view of BP), and games in May do have an October feel because of how passionate people are for the Red Sox.
9) Miller Park. Miller Park is the cleanest park I've been to, and even though I wish there were places around it, the pregame tailgating scene is pretty awesome, and there's a TGI Friday's-branded bar in left field has a good view of batting practice if you want to pregame. The food selection is pretty solid. Only downside is there's few places to stand and see the game, and I do like to stand.
10) Guaranteed Rate Field. Gets immediate points off for being in such a bad neighborhood, but I liked this place more than I thought I would going in. Nice sight-lines everywhere, easy to get to, and easily the best-smelling park I've been to. The food options might be better any place I've seen a baseball game at.
11) Turner Field. I liked Turner Field. I just didn't like that there was nothing to do around the park, at least when I went in 2007.
12) Riverfront Stadium. I could write entire blogs about why I loved Riverfront. There are five things I miss most of all, going to the ticket window and ordering tickets based on seat color, the feeling of exhilaration when I'd sneak past the guy at the top of the ramp that took fans down to field level, the blue level bar, and the usher we had during the park's final five years in our red seats behind the plate. That usher was fired last year, and once I find out why, I may or may not make a stink about it.
13) Citi Field. It's like a mall-themed ballpark, but I do suggest Shake Shack.
14) Progressive Field. I didn't dislike it, but I thought I'd be wowed. And every subsequent time I've gone since my first visit, I hope my previous impressions of the place are wrong. They're not.
15) Yankee Stadium II. Once you're in the yard, it's great. But the main concourses remind me of a prison, and the outfield view is of a bunch of crappy, burned-out apartment building. Down the street, though, is the best postgame bar I've been to.
16) Busch Stadium II. We're starting to get to the parks I last visited when I was in my 20s, so the memories are hazy. I think I liked this park, and I know I liked watching the Cardinals lose a playoff game in this stadium, but I'm really not sure about much when it comes to this place. I do like Budweiser.
17) Shea Stadium. Most uncomfortable place on earth, but I liked the gaudy orange seats on the lower level and the obnoxious sound system blaring right toward home plate.
18) Yankee Stadium I. In my only visit as an adult, I sat in the bleachers, which means I saw a Minnesota Twins fan get urinated on by the guy behind him.
19) Veterans Stadium. I saw a game here when I was 14. That's all I got for ya.
20) Sun Life Stadium. There was a postgame concert featuring Flo Rida and Pitbull, meaning that 85% of the people who eventually accounted for the night's attendance showed up after the eighth inning. Also, their Cuban sandwich was dreadful.
21) County Stadium. I went to a Padres/Brewers game in May of 1998, and aside from knowing that San Diego won the game 15-0, I literally have no recollection of this place. Alcohol - especially to a 20 year-old drinking illegally - is a powerful thing.
Also visited, but not officially on the list is Citizens Bank Park. I saw two Springsteen concerts there in 2012. I loved everything about this park, but it's not officially recognized on this list since I didn't see a baseball game there. I take my lists seriously.
Radio Show: Paul Dehner Jr. is with me for his weekly hit at 4:05. I've got some Bengals takes. You've got some Bengals takes. We'll share Bengals takes. Today. 3:05. ESPN1530.
Recommended Link Of The Day: Good God, I don't miss this guy.