We've enjoyed the Cincy Jungle round table posts and, from the feedback we've been getting, you seem to enjoy them too. So today we did another one. The main point of the round table was to talk about what we hoped to see in the game tonight against the Panthers. It eventually evolved into who would have a breakout game and if we thought our first-string defense can contain Cam Newton.
What are you hoping to see from the Bengals tonight against the Panthers?
Anthony Cosenza: I'm hoping to see a win, frankly. Everybody is saying that they want to see little improvements here and there, but I think they need to come out, play well and beat who I feel is an inferior opponent at home. They need something to build their confidence right now. They're getting killed by the media and I think the younger player's psyche is fragile right now. Minimal injuries as well.
Jason Garrison: I agree. I think a win would be nice for the team's confidence right now. Or at least to be winning when the first-string players come out of the game.
Naji Bsisu: I'd love Dalton to be able to leave with a lead.
Ryan Harper: I hope to see some progress in the development of the offense. I know it's only preseason and the Bengals have a new offense to learn along with a rookie at quarterback and an offense that doesn't contain a whole ton of experience. But it would be nice to see them the offense find a rhythm sooner.
Naji: And no injuries.
Jason: That's the biggest thing. I also want to see some damn Bernard Scott.
Ryan: I hope to see more confidence in Dalton. It seems that he's been lacking that through the first two games.
Naji: He has seemed really nervous at the beginning of both games, hopefully he will be more settled at the start of this one.
Josh Kirkendall: One thing I've wondered about Dalton is, sure his passes seem inaccurate, but how much is that to do with the receivers? Are they running flat slant routes when they should be sharper? Are they running vertical when they should be fading out or posting in?
Jason: It's probably a mixture of both. Just inexperience on both ends.
Ryan: That's why it would be nice to see everyone settle in quicker.
Anthony: That's a good point, Josh. That very well could be the case. Simpson is still very inexperienced and Green is a rookie, and they're both in a brand new system. I wouldn't be surprised if the routes are getting mixed up.
Josh: That's the thing though; we could be arguing about Dalton's inaccuracy and comfort level, but it could be the receivers. What I do like about Dalton though is that he's making quick throws and that he's typically making the right decisions. I don't think the routes the receivers are running are wrong, so to speak. Just that quarterback and receiver are lacking that cohesion that they'll eventually develop. Dalton will know his guys more and vice versa.
Jason: Yeah, the more they stay on the field together, the better off they'll be.
Josh: Maybe Green's slant route begins at the five yard line, but he breaks at the seven. The pass will come up short or well outside of Green's reach.
Jason: The lockout hurt that more than anything else.
Naji: Yeah, rookie quarterback, wide receiver and offensive coordinator, it will take time.
Anthony: I've said before that the Bengals picked the worst possible offseason to overhaul the offense with a bunch of rookies. The lockout killed their progression and cohesion.
Naji: True, but the alternative was staying with Bratkowski, which was unacceptable.
Josh: In fairness to the Bengals, this offseason was also largely dictated to them by Carson Palmer's sudden demand to retire. That doesn't happen and the Bengals are at a vastly different point than they are right now.
Naji: So what do you guys think of Gruden's play calling so far? Is he putting Dalton in a position to succeed?
Jason: I think it's about as low risk as play calling can be right now. I think he's trying to put Dalton in positions where he has a high probability to succeed so he builds confidence.
Anthony: Hot and cold, with most of it being cold. I think he's still feeling out what his players' strengths and weaknesses are.
Anthony: Who do you guys think will have a breakout/standout game tonight for the Bengals?
Jason: I think Benson is going to go nuts tonight.
Naji: A.J. Green. I think he will have worked really hard to make up for his drops last week and will have a big game.
Josh: Wouldn't be surprised to see Bernard Scott have a little fun. They don't want to wear down Benson (as if someone could be worn down in the preseason) and this should be the closest representation to how the team's offensive philosophy will go; so we might run the ball more than usual.
Anthony: Any of those would be great by me, just as long as the punter isn't the team's star again this game.
Ryan: Honestly I hope to see Dalton breakout tonight, but I bet it's someone from the running department that unleashes some hell tonight
Jason: It would be nice to see some Scott tonight. Maybe the team will use the two of them like the Panthers use DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart
Josh: What Kevin Huber did was incredible. Star or not. You have a guy that can kick out of the endzone and actually help you win field position is invaluable. Every team would want that.
Naji: How much playing time do you see Taylor Mays getting, if any?
Josh: Not much. He really only watched Tuesday's practice so he'll only have one day to get acclimated. I wouldn't be surprised to see some second-team snaps, but I'd expect to see him more towards the third quarter.
Ryan: If Mays plays, it's in the second half. That's what I'm going with.
Jason: Yeah. I wouldn't be surprised to see him starting by the last preseason game or by the beginning of regular season.
Anthony: I don't know. I think they want to throw him in the fire. I think he'll get a good chunk of time tonight. I expect to see him play with the second and third teams, as well as on special teams.
Naji: Mays over Nelson or Crocker?
Josh: Mays won't start. No way.
Anthony: I think they'll give him the opportunity to win a starting job, Josh. I get the feeling that Zimmer LOVES this kid.
Jason: I'm just thinking that Mays probably has more talent than any of the Bengals safeties right now. If Mike Zimmer can get him to use all of that talent and get him playing up to his potential, Mays could be a big acquisition for the defense. You guys don't think so?
Ryan: I think acquiring Mays was a huge move. I just don't know if he'll be starting once the regular season starts. I can envision him taking over the starting role once we're a little further into the season
Josh: I just don't see it coming close. As long as Crocker and Nelson are healthy, they're your starting safeties. Mays would literally have to prove everything that happened in San Francisco was a fluke. We need to see him first in this defense before proclaiming a possible starter.
Ryan: Keyword healthy
Josh: True. But you can't predict things based on health. Those are fluke things.
Naji: I think he definitely has all the ability in the world. If Zimmer can get him to play the way he wants him too I think he could become a starter but probably not until next year. Crocker does have a tendency to get hurt a lot.
Josh: I will say that his knee injury from last year could be a concern, simply because it was a major injury and you never know how something like that holds up. But he did play a full 16-game schedule in 2009 and when he joined the team mid-way through 2008, he didn't miss any time.
Anthony: I saw a ton of Taylor Mays at USC. He was dominant his junior year and would've been a top-five pick if he had come out after that season. He was the most athletic player on the field almost every week. I think it's just a matter of Zimmer using him to his strengths and using him for a specific purpose. I don't know that the Niners had a plan for him, other than throw him out there and expect him to do miracles.
Anthony: How do you guys think Cam Newton will do against the Bengals defense?
Josh: Quarterback. Legs. Speed. Shit.
Ryan: In a perfect world the Bengals would completely shut him down and win the game 63-0.
Naji: I see him struggling in the pass game but I see him tearing us up on the ground. He'll get a rushing touchdown in the first half.
Jason: I don't know but I'm looking forward to watching him. I'm not rooting for him but I think he could be an exciting quarterback. Hopefully the Bengals defense does its job. Newton will have Steve Smith for the first time tonight.
Josh: We'll pressure him plenty. I'd expect a heavy dose of Zimmer blitzes to rattle the kid.
Ryan: I think it will be two or more years until Newton is a reliable quarterback.
Josh: I think the same thing about Dalton.
Naji: I would say Dalton becomes a reliable starter before Newton.
Anthony: Me too.
Ryan: What do you all hope to see from the defense tonight?
Naji: Lots of pressure on Newton, and tighter coverage from our DBs.
Jason: I want to see Rey in the backfield hunting down Williams and Stewart.
Anthony: I'm looking for Rey Maualuga to be omnipresent and for the front four to get pressure without blitzing.
Josh: Prevent the other team from scoring a friggin' touchdown in the first half and morphing Fred Bennett into a towel boy.