Josh, what's up? Why didn't you include a fantastic four report against the Jets?
The reason I didn't include a Fantastic Four report against the New York Jets this week, is because the Bengals have played the Jets once when all four players were on the roster. Before the 24-31 loss against the New York Jets during 2004's kickoff weekend, the two teams collided on December 16, 2001 when Vinny Testaverde went 17/28 for 196 yards and two touchdowns. When Corey Dillon recorded 85 yards rushing and two touchdowns and Akili Smith had his career game -- 4/6 35 yards (kidding). When guys like Brandon Bennett, Darnay Scott, Curtis Keaton and Ron Dugans were Bengals. Those names still seem fresh on the mind, don't they? But it was six years ago and the culture of the Bengals has dramatically changed since then.
The Bengals lost, 14-15, in 2001, but led the game at start of the fourth quarter, 14-3. The Begnals' first touchdown, a one-yard Corey Dillon touchdown run, lasted 20 plays, spanned 81 yards and eliminated 12 minutes off the first quarter. After John Hall kicked a field goal with 18 seconds left in the first half, the Bengals -- on the second possession of the second half -- went on a 13-play, 87-yard drive consuming 7:54 off the clock taking a 14-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The Jets scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter failing both two-point conversions to win the game late, 15-14.
Of the fantastic four, Chad Johnson (two receptions, 13 yards) and T.J. Houshmandzadeh (one reception, five yards) were the only ones in the NFL at the time.
Flash Forward: The 24-31 loss during kickoff weekend seemed closer than it was. At the time I wrote for BengalsZone (old post here). Here's some of the comments I made in that game.
- The Bengals defensive line was man-handled all afternoon allowing Curtis Martin to come four yards short of 200. I don’t know what’s worse, the Bengals embarrassing performance on the defensive front, the routinely missed and overrun tackling performance by Nate Webster, or abuse Chad Pennington put on the secondary
- Nothing encouraging came out of the debacle, and the only reason the score wasn’t worse than 31-24 is because Carson Palmer and the receivers looked like veterans against a hurt secondary.
- Pre-season sensation, Caleb Miller, took a step back while playing against a first team offense. Nate Webster, probably the most over-hyped middle linebacker of the bunch, flew into blockers with his head down...
It's true, I called Miller a "pre-season sensation". What was I thinking? Well, nothing. Pot hurts the brain kiddies.
Remembering Carson Palmer's first start. Opening Weekend in 2004 against the Jets was Carson Palmer's first career NFL start. I said after the game:
One of the impressive things about Palmer and Bob Bratkowski’s offense is the understanding on what it takes to become a successful NFL quarterback. Too many times, quarterbacks with outstanding talent (are) wasted in the NFL because the lack of preparedness when entering the league. Not only did Palmer experience an NFL snap during his rookie campaign, but he learned from one of the most knowledgeable backup quarterbacks in the league.
However, for a quarterback to gain notoriety in the league, with a vicious appetite for winning, he must have confidence. Impressive as Palmer’s physical attributes may be, the mental aspect is his toughest challenge and the Bengals offensive coordinator understands this. So to avoid long progression plays, Palmer had short reads most of the afternoon. On the first play of the game, Palmer and Chad Johnson hooked up on a quick five-yard hook route. No doubt, this helped build Carson’s confidence and get that first pass of his first NFL career start out of the way. Third downs proved similar when short yardage was needed for a conversion. On a 3rd and 4 on the Jets 19 yard line, Palmer, after a few steps, fired into Peter Warrick for the first down setting up Rudi Johnson’s 9 yard touchdown run.
Little did I know at the time, it wasn't a plan to get rid of the ball quickly. We've come to learn that Palmer just reads the defense that quickly.
The fantastic four in that game. Palmer and the Bengals were left with a first-and-ten at the Cincinnati five-yard line with 3:48 left in the game down by a touchdown. Rudi started the drive with a 16-yard run behind Eric Steinbach. After a 3-yard run by Kenny Watson, Palmer completed a 30-yard pass to Peter Warrick. At the Cincinnati 49-yard line with two minutes left, Palmer tried to squeeze a pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The pass was intercepted by Erik Coleman -- a rookie safety also in his first NFL start -- giving the Jets the win sealed after a 12-yard Curtis Martin run with just over a minute left in the game and no Bengals timeouts.
Setting up this weekends game.
During the week, NY Landing Strip blogger, Mark Risola sat down with me. We bantered questions back and fourth. My questions in bold.
1. Is the push to start Kellen Clemens a result of his talent or the demand to bench Pennington?
It is a combination of both. Chad has lost his arm strength, and he really does not fit into this system. With a re-building line in front of him, they need someone who can scramble (Clemens) and can stretch a vertical game to open up the running routes (Clemens). Chad is still a great QB in this league, but Clemens should start as a result of his talent and bench Chad because he doesn't fit this system.
2. Of the five games the Jets have lost, three were within one possession. Other than the 24-point loss to the Patriots and the 10-point loss to the Giants, what's the one consistency why the Jets keep coming short in close games they lose?
The problem is they can't finish and they can't get in the end zone. Chad has had the ball in his hands with the opportunity to win and hasn't been able to get the job done. His lack of arm strength and an aggressive defense has forced Chad to rely on short passes, and all the Jets were able to do is kick field goals.
3. Who's your MVP thus far into the season?
That is a tough one because no one has really played too great. I would have to say though that D'Brickashaw Ferguson has been playing excellent, holding down the left side of the line and helping to protect the fragile Pennington. He has held down the likes of Jason Taylor, Osi Umenyiora, Aaron Schobel, and Jevon Kearse to hardly any big plays in the backfield.
4. The situation is four-and-goal with the Jets offense at the opposing team's eight-yard line. This the final play of the game. Being down by four points, you must score a touchdown. What do the Jets do and who's the "go to" guy?
Haha this sounds oddly familiar to the Jets- Eagles game last weekend. First of all the Jets should have not tried the QB sneak on third down, and they should have allowed Thomas Jones to pound the rock in on fourth down. As for your situation, I say the the Jets would run a play-action setting up Cotchery across the middle, and have Baker drop into a soft zone in the back of the end zone. Coles would run a post into the corner of the end zone, so Chad could hit Cotchery down the middle for the go ahead touchdown.
5. Obviously going 1-5 is disappointing. However, was this season thought to be a rebuilding year from the start?
Yes, it was. Everybody in the media was hit with the smoke and mirrors of an easy schedule. The truth was the Jets schedule was ridiculously easy, and everybody bought into the hype. This is year 2 of the re-building, and that includes a shaky offensive line, an average QB, and a defense in the midst of a change from the 4-3 to a hybrid 3-4 scheme. They are still about a season and half and two drafts away from really competing, and if you look at history and see it takes most franchises 3 years to set up the foundation of the re-building before they are good.
All thanks go to Mark for taking the time out to discuss. My responses at NY Landing Strip.
The Wounded Keep Limping. When the status report came out Friday night, it wasn't a surprise to see Antonio Chatman, Ahmad Brooks and Caleb Miller offically out. And I so called Chatman sitting. That leaves four wide receivers for Sunday -- Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Glenn Holt, Skyler Green. Courtney Roby was a mid-week signing and might see playing time. Chad's ankle limited practice this week.
Rudi Johnson's hamstring prevented him from practicing this week. Marvin Lewis will make a game-time decision on Rudi Sunday afternoon.
Willie Anderson, the toughest SOB on the team, is listed as questionable. He said Thursday he's playing. Why is he tough? Some claimed that Willie could miss a full month with a foot that's bothered him since training camp. So far, he missed Chiefs week with a 50% chance of playing against the Jets.
Linebackers. With Ahmad Brooks and Caleb Miller out again, and Corey Mays (doubtful) missing a full week of practice, the Bengals will be dangerously short of linebackers. The good news is that Rashad Jeanty practiced all week listed as probable. His likely return helps big time.
All that said. The biggest news coming out of the Bengals camp is the expected long-term conversion of Robert Geathers from passing rushing defensive end to outside linebacker. The move was primarily in response to the lack of talent of the remaining linebackers available.
Personally, I'm not a big proponent of this move. Against the Chiefs, he lined up at linebacker in pass coverage, covering a hall-of-fame tight end. I called that move last week the dumbest yet. Furthermore, taking away a defensive end that recorded 10.5 sacks last season to fill in at linebacker, doesn't make sense. Likely, he'll rush the quarterback on third down. However, you could count the number of times Geathers played linebacker on one finger in his career. You're converting a multi-million dollar defensive end into a mediocre inexperienced linebacker. It could be a great decision if he adapts well down the road -- and generally, I'll hold judgment on the move. But I've never been a fan of taking a good player at one position and downgrading his talents at a position he's never played before. Best example to date: David Pollack.
Marvin. Not a whole lot of people are defending our head coach right now. The loss to Kansas City drew a lot of ire from fans and the media. I tried my best to promote a defense of Lewis without actually defending him -- I think he's making some unsound judgment calls.
Confused. Why, with the video of Porter's ambush on Levi Jones, is the NFL Chancellor sitting on his hands? I know why? Because Porter isn't a Bengal.