Much of the blame for the Bengals’ disappointing 27-10 playoff loss to the Chargers Sunday has been aimed at quarterback Andy Dalton, but a former Cincinnati signal-caller took issue with the team’s coaching staff Monday.
"Of course on CBS we get the dreg game," said Esiason, who is in his seventh year hosting a morning show with Craig Carton and is a member of CBS’ NFL Today studio show on Sundays during football season. "I mean it was awful.
"And from a Cincinnati Bengals fan standpoint, I’m sure they’re very upset this morning with their head coach and their quarterback, and you know in some respects rightfully so, but I also caution all those Cincinnati Bengals fans five years ago you were the laughing stock of the NFL. You were the butt of every joke. Carson Palmer forced his way out of Cincinnati to the Oakland Raiders and you have to rebuild around a young quarterback. This young quarterback did not play well yesterday, and he will tell you that himself. But I will also tell you they got completely outcoached, especially in the second half. For anybody who has ever played the game of football or has watched the game of football and understands the little nuances that go on in games, I could sit here and tell you that (Chargers head coach) Mike McCoy, (offensive coordinator) Ken Wisenhunt and John Pagano, their defensive coordinator, completely outcoached Mike Zimmer, Jay Gruden and Marvin Lewis."
Esiason came to that conclusion watching the Chargers outscore the Bengals 20-0 in the second half, turning a 10-7 halftime deficit into a comfortable victory.
"It’s almost like there were two different games in the sense that in the second half the Chargers came out with a no-huddle offense. Wow, what a novel thought! Let’s get our quarterback in a little bit of a rhythm, let’s get him throwing down the field a little bit. And then let’s start blitzing Andy Dalton, and once Andy Dalton and the offense didn’t react properly and showed they couldn’t handle the blitz, what does a good defensive coordinator do? He keeps doing it. And they were completely overwhelmed and forced into mistakes, and as Philip Rivers said after the game, it’s not about numbers or quarterback rating — it’s about winning the football game anyway you possibly can."
Ironically, Esiason is the last player to quarterback the Bengals to a postseason victory. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns as they beat the Houston Oilers 41-14 Jan. 6, 1991, at Riverfront Stadium.
A week later, the lefty was 8 for 15 for 104 yards and a touchdown as the Bengals lost 20-10 to the Los Angeles Raiders.
Since then, the franchise has lost first-round playoff games in 2005, ’09, ’11 and ’12 along with this year season.