*This was disappointing. Not discouraging. Not devastating. The Bengals are 2-1, which is a very acceptable record through three games, and they gamely fought through losing AJ Green, not having Joe Mixon, Billy Price, or either of their top two linebackers. Still, this game was for the taking, lost because of the turnovers and the inability to slow down a pretty simple Carolina offense. The Bengals have a very small margin for error and play in a division that could be very, very tight. The games they can win, they need to win. This was a game they could have won, and one that might have added importance given the upcoming schedule.
*This was the day I'd feared that I'd be stewing all afternoon over Vontaze Burfict's absence. Without Burfict and Preston Brown, the Bengals linebackers were abused all afternoon, mainly by Christrian McCaffrey. Out of pure emotion, I swore to no one in particular after another simple handoff resulted in a Carolina first down that if the Bengals would've had Vontaze, they would be winning. I don't know if I really believe that, but I don't know that I don't really believe that.
*When you know your kicker isn't very good at making 50-plus yard field goals, and when you know your punter is pretty good at pinning teams inside their ten, shouldn't you send the guy who's good at pinning teams inside the ten onto the field instead of the guy who isn't good at making long field goal tries?
*The Andy Dalton-to-Tyler Boyd thing is becoming fun to watch, especially because they're thriving on improvisational plays. I sent a tweet after their touchdown connection, sharing with my followers some free football insight that you really can't get anywhere else.
*It is not fun to watch John Ross look like he doesn't know that he's playing football, which I wrote about here. It's not just that Ross effed up on one play, it's that as a complementary guy with aspirations of playing a bigger role, he should be expected to at least know that the ball is coming his week. John Ross is not a bust, it's too early to be breaking out that label. He is, however, pretty unreliable.
*Speaking of Twitter, I used that forum to pay Andy Dalton the highest compliment I can pay a quarterback when he threw the TD pass on a play-fake to CJ Uzomah.
*Hardy Nickerson. Woof.
*Dre Kirkpatrick. Pretty underwhelming.
*Giovani Bernard can do stuff. This should be kept in mind when Joe Mixon returns. How to use both at the same time can't be that hard of a thing to figure out.
*Why do I have this sobering feeling that we're going to see a lot of teams send their fastest speed rusher at Cordy Glenn?
*Here are the next six games: at Atlanta, home for undefeated Miami, home for Pittsburgh, at KC and my current football crush Pat Mahomes, home for Tampa Bay, and home for New Orleans. This stretch will include two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, another who's been an MVP, as well as the one who'd get the award if the season ended now. It will include what were four of the top eight highest-scoring offenses in the league heading into week three, plus the Falcons, for whom offense was not a problem this week despite losing to the Saints. The next six weeks wouldn't be as imposing if the Bengals were 3-0 going into it, nor would a look at the upcoming schedule be as daunting if the injuries weren't becoming a concern. Mainly though, this team needs to get - and stay - whole at linebacker, or else some of those offenses the Bengals have coming will carve them up worse than what McCaffrey and company did to them today.
(Photo: Getty Images)