The last time the Bengals played the Green Bay Packers during the regular season, Brett Favre threw five picks and had the ball stolen from him by a fan. Yet, the Bengals only won the game only by a touchdown. Deltha O'Neal and Odell Thurman had two picks each, Tory James had the fifth and Kevin Kaesviharn recorded ten tackles. Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes, one to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Jeremi Johnson and Chris Perry. Both teams converted third downs (Packers 60%, Bengals 53%), but neither rushed for more than 100 yards -- then again, did you expect that between Favre and Palmer? The game ended on an illegal forward pass penalty on Favre after Duane Clemons recorded a quarterback sack -- which would become the last sack of his NFL career. Remember Ifeanyi Ohalete? God, I do. Speaking of which, Ohalete played 2007 with the New York Dragons in the AFL and finished second on the team in tackles.
We figured if Brett Favre remained with the Packers, then those ESPN guys -- who usually have trouble focusing on more than one story (including what happens in the game) -- would dictate the game based on camera angles of Favre; only reminded that the Packers are playing the Bengals when they accidentally show the action on the field. As a Bengals fan, I don't mind the lack of coverage -- most people only talk about the Bengals criminal tendencies TWO years ago because they are lazy self-promoting and undeserving commentators of the NFL thinking anyone gives a crap about their opinion.
At the same time, lacking of coverage will suck. There's several players I want to watch, see how they perform and if there's any risers and fallers.
Luckily, Brett Favre is gone so maybe ESPN's first dress rehearsal will give some balanced coverage talking about the talent on the field rather than both team's issues during the off-season (which includes Chad Johnson's campaign and the release of Odell Thurman and Chris Henry). Let's talk about our linebackers, our in-your face cornerbacks, Brandon Johnson stepping up, how well Simeon Castille really plays, Bobbie Williams and Andrew Whitworth under center, Jordan Palmer or Jeff Rowe, Chris Perry's return (which is looking very good), who this James Johnson guy is, etc... will the ESPN crew talk about any of that? Perhaps Ron Jaworski, but Mike Tirico likes those garbage gossip stories while Tony Kornheiser is, well, Tony Kornheiser.
WHO: Green Bay Packers [Acme Packing Company]
WHEN: August 11, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Green Bay, Wisconsin
MEDIA: ESPN and Channel 12. Radio on WLW, Homer and The Fox. Sirius 126 (Cincinnati) and 124 (Green Bay)
SERIES: Pre-season, the Bengals have won 10 of 15 games (tied once) including four straight wins -- have only met once since 1991. The Bengals are 4-4-1 when we're on the road. Regular season, the teams are tied at 5-5.
Some things I'm looking at.
- Marvin Lewis said it's unlikely that either Rudi Johnson or T.J. Houshmandzadeh will play Monday; both still recovering from minor injury. While I'd really like to see the Auburn-reborn Rudi Johnson, I don't mind seeing how Chris Perry does taking more snaps -- along with seeing James Johnson.
- The rotation at defensive tackle. Jason Shirley and Pat Sims should get a lot of snaps while starters John Thornton and Domata Peko will be limited as starters usually are. Michael Myers and Antwon Burton should rotate in to give Shirley and Sims a breather, if not playing most of the fourth quarter. Though I'm speculating here because Myers is listed above Shirley with Sims as the second-team defensive tackles. My point is that I want to see how the team will rotate them in and how well they do.
- General defensive attitude and scheme by Mike Zimmer and linebackers with Jeff Fitzgerald. This includes better quarterback pressure and stuffing receivers off the line of scrimmage by our corners -- though they kind of go hand-in-hand (good coverage means QB holds the ball longer, good pressure means either sack or ill-advised pass into coverage.. both are always good).
- How the offense looks in double-TE sets with Reggie Kelly and Ben Utecht. Also wondering about Chad Johnson's ankles and will they hold up during game-speed.
- Anthony Collins, the "emergency centers" Bobbie Williams and Andrew Whitworth and a reborn (of sorts) Willie Anderson.
- All of our non-starting younger wide receivers -- specifically Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Marcus Maxwell.
- Daniel Coats blocking out of the backfield.
Your job next week is to document your impressions on a specific unit that you're really interested in, and writing a ten-page essay on your impressions by Wednesday. That's not too hard, is it?