Saints at Bengals Primer -- Palmer led offense is slow

WHO: New Orleans Saints (1-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (1-1)
SB NATION: Canal Street Chronicles
WHEN: August 23, 7:35 p.m.
WHERE: Cincinnati, Ohio
MEDIA: Television coverage will be conducted by the local team of Paul Keels and Anthony Munoz on Channel 12 (Cincinnati), Channel 22 (Dayton), Channel 45 (Dayton), Channels 6 and 28 in Columbus, Channel 36 in Lexington and Channel 41 in Louisville. The game will be rebroadcast on Fox Sports Net Ohio at midnight. Same radio coverage as always.
US?: We'll be on the site, talking, chatting, drinking, eating, etc.
SERIES: Of six pre-season games, the Bengals have only won one (1-3 while in Cincinnati). On the other hand, during the regular season, the Bengals are 6-5 against the Saints -- including a three-game winning streak.
WEATHER: Partly cloudy, high of 91, low of 70 with a 20% chance of rain. [Weather.com]
NFL.com: Game Center

Injuries: Marvin Lewis has already determined that the Bengals will be without their two starting wide receivers and Andre Caldwell is still in a boot after suffering turf toe and Marcus Maxwell is gone for the season.

Interesting Note: Of all the AFC North teams heading into pre-season week #3 (all of whom played two games), the Bengals have scored the least amount (30) and given up the second most (44). Actually, Jacksonville, Miami and New England are the three teams that have scored less points than the Bengals in the AFC.

Match-up: While they won't be technically facing each other, an interesting dynamic exists. The Saints made a trade during the NFL Draft that put them ahead of Cincinnati, in position to draft Sedrick Ellis -- the Bengals #1 target. Instead the Bengals sat at #9 and drafted Ellis' teammate Keith Rivers.

Last Time: The last time the Bengals played the Saints, the Saints won the first-half 17-12 while taking the game 27-19. The leading rusher was Jeff Rowe (20 yards) while the leading passer was Doug Johnson. So, that's why we lost. Seriously.

Notes About Pre-season

Of eight possessions run by the Carson Palmer led first-team offense, five have ended in three-and-out, a blocked field goal, interception and a 14-yard touchdown to Ben Utecht. I'm not picking on Palmer here, just pointing out that Palmer is my key in judging our first-team offense because, you know, he's in the game. So let's recap.

Drive Result Notes
1 (Packers) Three-and-out No penalty, no plays with yards lost.
2 (Packers) Three-and-out No penalty, no plays with yards lost.
3 (Packers) Three-and-out No penalty, no plays with yards lost.
4 (Packers) 14-yard TD pass, Palmer to Utecht  
5 (Lions) Interception Interception: Chad in the air, juggled the pass and landed on his elbow, knocking shoulder out of socket.
6 (Lions) Blocked FG Possession went 11 plays, gaining 50 yards. The 46-yard Field Goal was blocked after Peko blocked out, Levi Jones blocked in, allowing a gap for the blocked kick.
7 (Lions) Three-and-out No penalty, no plays with yards lost.
8 (Lions) Three-and-out Five-yard loss on first play, short pass to Chris Perry.

More Notes About Pre-Season

  • Opponents are converting 45% of their third down conversions this pre-season. That's actually a higher percentage of conversions allowed than any regular season during the Marvin Lewis era.
    • 2003: 41% (85/206)
    • 2004: 37% (80/218)
    • 2005: 43% (81/190)
    • 2006: 42% (88/211) -- 35% in pre-season (19/54)
    • 2007: 43% (86/201) -- 35% in pre-season (18/52)
  • Ratings by the Bengals top-three quarterbacks
    • Carson Palmer, 55.7
    • Ryan Fitzpatrick, 109.0
    • Jeff Rowe, 44.7
  • Kenny Watson is the only running back with a yard-per-carry average (5.5) higher than 4.0.
  • No Cincinnati Bengals defender has more than one sack or interception.

Position Battles?

Wide receiver is murky, at best, but clearer for this game. Antonio Chatman and Chris Henry -- provided he's allowed to play -- would be the team's likely starters with Jerome Simpson and Glenn Holt working out that #3 spot. If Henry can't go, then Holt would be the likely starter opposite of Chatman.

Now that fullback Jeremi Johnson is gearing up to play Saturday, Daniel Coats is suddenly worried. If Jeremi performs like he's capable, then Coats would likely be demoted to the second full back -- which, in reality, doesn't exist on most NFL teams, including the Bengals. His life as a tight end in Cincinnati is essentially nonexistent. Unless he packs an impact during the next two games, Coats could be cut. Look at it this way, the Bengals had ample reason to cut Jeremi Johnson, and never did.

Marvin Lewis on Bobbie Williams at Center: "Yes, we saw enough of Bobbie at center." From my point of view, it would seem that the Bengals are content with Eric Ghiaciuc at center, Williams at right guard and Stacy Andrews at right tackle. Otherwise, the Bengals would be using the Jurassic Line as much as possible to seal up communication issues and work on blitzing linebackers. In a sense, we can put that to rest for now and label Eric Ghiaciuc as the team's starting center. Granted, Ghiaciuc's role has never been at risk -- at no time did he hear or expect the Bengals to use Jurassic as their primary offensive line. Still, that fantasy was always hard to shake off.

Jeff Rowe has seen significant time compared to Jordan Palmer. There's no reason to believe, at this point, that Palmer will unseat Rowe for the number three quarterback spot.

This is just my personal opinion, but Rudi Johnson should be listed as the team's number three running back. Make sure you read that right. I don't mean third-down back, I mean the third running back behind starter Chris Perry and Kenny Watson. I'd be too concerned that his hamstring could replicate 2007.

We'll keep hammering away, but that's all I got for now.

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