I want to believe the Bengals can beat the Broncos Sunday. Denver has a quarterback you couldn't have found six months ago, even with a map, compass and a publicity head shot.
Any time a team opens up a "new can of quarterbacks," as my buddy Dave Lapham like to say, there can be both joy and sorrow. So far, it's been joy in Denver: Trevor Siemian has the Broncos 2-0. And yes, the Broncos still have the same core of wide receivers they had last year with Manning/Osweiler at the helm: Emmanuel Sanders, Demaryius Thomas, Cody Lattimer and Jordan Norwood. C.J. Anderson has rushed for 4.7 yards per carry through two games, and Denver's defense, its hallmark, once again appears to be legit. The team is solid.
But despite a lethargic loss in Pittsburgh last Sunday, I still think the Bengals can be very good this season. Look at their roster and tell me another team in the AFC that, top to bottom, has a better lineup.
But here are a couple of red flags:
- The Bengals can't run the ball. Major problem for an NFL offense.
- Where are the sacks? They have two in two games. Carlos Dunlap has none, so he better get his 23 in the next 14 games or Michael Strahan can continue to rest comfortably.
The Bengals rushed for only 57 yards against the Jets and just 46 against the Steelers. Marvin Lewis said Andy Dalton 'checked out' of run plays in favor of passing last Sunday. Maybe that explains some of the anemic rushing stats, but unless that part of the Bengals is fixed quickly (and it may get fixed Sunday because the Broncos are allowing an average of 120 yards per game on the ground this season) then this may not be the year we all think it might be.
And of course, it's never too early to panic, which is what must be going on on Cleveland.
The Browns are now on their third quarterback in as many weeks. RG III ran out of shoulders in week one, and Josh McCown hurt his shoulder last week against the Ravens.
It's rookie Cody Kessler who has a chance to hurt his shoulder this Sunday against the Dolphins. Hue Jackson has been on the job less than three games, and already he and his smart guys in that Browns front office are being second guessed about to why they didn't draft Carson Wentz this past May.
Of course, Wentz places high value on his shoulders, so he's probably pleased with the Browns passing on him.
Every time I see Joe Flacco throw the ball, it's as if he's playing soft toss with his neighbor's kid. It just seems so effortless.
E-Poll Marketing just released a new poll that says San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is the "most disliked player" in the NFL. Anyone not see that coming?
The mayor of Sacramento got a pie in the face at a charity dinner in California Wednesday night. Kudos to the former NBA star for going ahead and giving his scheduled speech after that!
Speaking of pie, is there anything better than hot apple pie with vanilla ice cream?
It's a race to see which team has the worse run differential in Major League Baseball: the Twins, Diamondbacks, Braves or Reds. At -146, the Reds are within five of the "lead."
I heard from a reliable source that the Reds are feeling inclined to bring Bryan Price back as manager next season.
I would think a compelling reason would be to allow Price to work with General Manger Dick Williams without interference from the departing (with golden parachute) Walt Jocketty. But Williams already knows all about Price, since he's been in the Reds front office for the last 10 years.
Another compelling reason to bring Price back: Price knows pitching. Fix that mess and then he can turn the managing job over to the next guy.
But other than inheriting a playoff team from Dusty Baker, Price hasn't gotten a fair shake. He's liable for some of the bad coaching hires he's made, but in 2015-16, he didn't have a competitive team.
And if the Reds don't feel Jesse Winker is a legitimate candidate to start the 2017 season in right field, then they ought to look for a bargain, short term deal with a free agent. The rest of the everyday eight is competitive.
Best news for the rest of college football: Ohio State has the weekend off. But I'm afraid we'll have to wait until late November, when they play Michigan and Michigan State, to know if the Buckeyes are really as good as they've looked the past three weeks.
If Tommy Tuberville really wants to keep interest up in his team this season, he ought to play Gunner Kiel. Whatever the issue is with Kiel and his plummet to third string, it's not heath. Not anymore. If it was, Tuberville wouldn't have put him in to mop up against Houston. Remember, Kiel threw for almost 2,800 yards and 19 touchdowns last season and missed two games.
I was talking with FC Cincinnati head coach John Harkes today. His club is off to play its final match of the season Saturday night in Pittsburgh. Besides attendance, I asked Harkes what surprised him the most in his club's inaugural season.
"Our players keeping us in the top five (in standings) all year long," Harkes told me. "Absolutely shocking. It's amazing. We've pushed, we've asked a lot, and now we're going to have to push a little bit more."
The USL playoffs begin Oct. 2, opponent TBD, at Nippert Stadium.
While we're at it, let's wish a happy 58th birthday today to the "Godmother of Punk," Joan Jett.
This song was written by Joan and one of the true music writing geniuses, Desmond Child. It was off her 1988 album "Up You Alley", featuring former Rolling Stone Mick Taylor on lead guitar. It peaked at No. 8 in 1988.and it was nominated for a Grammy..
As for Joan, I heard this story from my good buddy Greg Kihn. He and his band were touring with Joan and the Blackhearts back in the day. Greg's mom was at one of the tour stops and went backstage to meet Joan after the show.
The way Greg tells it: "My mom goes up to Joan and says 'Joan, Joan, why don't your try smiling once or twice up on the stage? People think you don't like them.'"
Greg, apparently, suffered from that same thing all of us do when our parents might say something out of order.
And I attended a wedding many years ago when the bride and groom actually danced to this for "their song." That marriage, by the way, lasted a few hours shy of 43 days.