Last year it seemed that every time the Cincinnati Bengals offense stepped foot on the field and lined up, somebody, somewhere was jumping early. Maybe it was an offensive lineman, a running back or a wide receiver. By the end of the disastrous 2010 season, the Bengals had racked up 22 false start penalties. That's 1.4 false starts per game. That was also the fourth most false starts in the AFC.
This year the Bengals will be taking the field with a young group of wide receivers and a rookie quarterback. Times are going to be tough for the 2011 Bengals offense. The last thing they'll need is to be continuously backed up five yards because somebody forgot the snap count.
Unfortunately, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, the Bengals offense ran into a false start problem during practice on Saturday.
False start penalties have long been the bane of the Bengals offense. With NFL officials taking part in Saturday's practice, the penalty flags made familiar appearances again as the offense was whistled four times.
To me, the false start problem is one of concentration. I understand that it may be difficult to remember the snap count when there is a 300-pound defensive lineman three feet away from you and you're pretty sure he's thinking about killing you, but remembering the snap count should be the easy part.
Marvin Lewis agreed that the team took too many false start penalties and he knows the problem needs to be fixed before the season starts.
"We had a couple false starts with the one group (first-team offense). You don't want to have any of that and have to get it fixed," Lewis said.
The good news is that these false starts obviously didn't count and that the offense may be getting them out of their system now. The bad news is that what happens in practice usually gets carried over into games.