JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 09: Quarterback Andy Dalton #14 of the the Cincinnati Bengals sets for play against the Jacksonville Jaguars October 9, 2011 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The Bengals won 30 - 20. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
The Bengals have won two games in a row, first defeating the favored Buffalo Bills at home and then going on the road and beating the Jacksonville Jaguars. Next the Bengals host the 0-5 Indianapolis Colts before heading into their week seven bye. They'll either go into the bye week with a 4-2 record or with a 3-3 record. Hopefully it's 4-2.
But before we get into the upcoming Colts game, let's take a look back at the MVPs and Goats of the Jaguars game.
We'll start with Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"Jermaine Gresham. When he's properly integrated in the offense, he's a beast. Couple of HUGE catches in this game that helped seal the comeback victory. The first was his diving/sliding touchdown reception right before the half that tied the game up. The second was the reception on 4th and 6 to keep the game-winning drive alive. It's "pick your poison" for opposing defenses when speaking of Gresham and A.J. Green."
- Gresham isn't close to leading tight ends in receiving yards but he's the eighth leading tight end in the NFL in touchdowns so far this season. When Dalton looks his way though, Gresham has been one of the most consistant receivers and when a big play has to be made -- a fourth down conversion or a late touchdown -- Gresham has been a go-to-guy. I just hope Jay Gruden gets Gresham more involved in the down-field passing game soon.
Joe Goodberry's MVP:
"The defensive line: Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Pat Sims and Johnathan Fanene all plated well in both phases of the game. Most of Maurice Jone-Drew's yardage came on runs to the outside where the Jaguars attacked the Bengals DEs. The interior of the D-Line stuffed the running game in the 2nd half. Pat Sims and Fanene each had a sacks while Geno Atkins had a TFL and fumble recovery for a TD in garbage time to seal the victory."
- The defensive line is without question the strength of the Bengals defense and maybe even the team as a whole. The rotation of Atkins, Peko, Sims, Fanene and Rucker, as well as Dunlap and Geathers has been incredible and has allowed the defensive line to stay rested late in the game when the offensive line is starting to get tired.
Dave Wellman's MVP:
"Andy Dalton. As has been the case every week, Dalton had his good moments and rookie moments, but against Jacksonville Andy was Captain Clutch. Sayeth Football Outsiders: "Dalton was one of four passers to convert eight different third- or fourth-down opportunities this weekend. The others: Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Matt Schaub. Fine company, that is." Yea, verily."
- Dalton has impressed the hell out of me so far this season. I've always been wary of the idea of starting a rookie quarterback in the NFL but Dalton truly has looked like he was completely ready to take the job. His play has impressed me, yes, but not as much as his poise. At times he looks like a seasoned veteran and I'm excited to see where he is at the end of the year and beyond.
And now to the Goats.
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"Cedric Benson. For a guy that shot his mouth off this week about wanting more carries and not share the load, he played awful. The weather conditions were perfect for a guy like Benson to have a huge game. He had an opportunity to have his team take control of the game via his legs, but looked slow and tentative."
- Benson has been underwhelming so far this season. He's averaging four yards per carry but he only has one touchdown and against the Jaguars he only averaged 2.2 yards per game. It seems that the Benson of 2009 is a thing of the past and Benson of 2010 is what we have left. If he continues this way for the rest of the season, I think the Bengals should move on to greener pastures in 2012.
Joe Goodberry's Goat:
"Reggie Nelson: Until the 74-yard bomb from Blaine Gabbert to Jason Hill, the Bengals secondary was playing lights out football. That play could've singlehandedly cost the Bengals the game. It looked like Leon Hall was expecting cover-2 coverage and he tried to pass the WR to Reggie Nelson because the TE was coming towards Hall's zone. Instead, Nelson tried to jump Mercedes Lewis' route and left Jason Hill uncovered. Inexcusable. Nelson is the deep guy. He cant let anybody behind him. No matter what. That's his first and foremost responsibility. This isn't Nelson's first missed assignment due to his aggressiveness. Luckily, he Bengals rebounded on Sunday."
- Nelson had three tackles in the game against the team that drafted him. I was hoping to see a Nelson that played like an animal against his former team like we have seen in the past but that wasn't the case. Even though Chris Crocker and Nelson have been the starters and they have helped the Bengals achieve their No. 1 defensive ranking, I'm looking forward to seeing Taylor Mays on the field.
Dave Wellman's Goat:
"Marvin Lewis. In the wake of the victory, Lewis was upset and he had every right to be, because the Bengals played a wildly uneven game, to put it mildly. That they escaped with a win is a testament to a couple of incredible goal-line stands, and the Jaguars' utter Bungalization of the last few minutes of the game. It's tough for me to pick a specific goat because everyone had their fair share of mistakes. So ultimately I have to look back at the coach and asked, if they aren't prepared, if they aren't executing, and if they are getting their butts kicked and still playing (hi, Nate!), whose fault is that? Get to work, coach."
- The Bengals have yet to play a complete game from beginning to end. A lot of that can be attributed to the team's youth and inexperience but much of it can also be attributed to coaching. The Bengals may be able to beat the Jaguars and maybe even the Colts and Seahawks while playing somewhat incomplete games, but once they get into the AFC North section of their schedule, things will need to change. Hopefully Lewis and the Bengals can get it done.