That may seem harsh, but that's their mid-exhibition season assessment, and they're sticking to it. To be frank, I don't think they're wrong. Not at all. The back ups have underperformed, surrendering leads in both the Ravens and Bengals games.
"We still have a lot of work to do because you want to detail things out," Nolan said. "There is a big difference between our first group and our backups. Some guys need to step up as far as the backups go."
"We are definitely improving," Koetter said. "You want to get better each time you go out there. But there is still plenty of stuff that we need to work on. I think we’re on the right track and making progress."
It's not about effort - these guys are professionals, and they want to help this team. It's not about an absence of talent - there's plenty of capable depth on this team. It's about individual players stepping up in a meaningful way. It's about having reliable depth. It's a goal that's easily stated; it's not a goal that's easily accomplished.
You can never put too much stock in the exhibition season. It's nice to see the first team doing well. And to that effect, it's nice to have some good problems (e.g., a surplus of defensive back talent). Often, at this point, speculative story lines are a dime a dozen. I don't buy that Turner has suddenly fallen off a cliff. I don't buy that the offensive line is doomed. But the second team has to improve. They have to. They probably will. But they only have two games to make it happen, and the clock is ticking.