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Bengals have no 40-yard receptions this season

The Bengals are planning to unveil their 2008 big-play offense Sunday against the Eagles, anticipating matchup problems with a blitz happy Jimmy Johnson defense. "What we've done this week with our game plan, I think we have a chance to expose some things they do," Chad Johnson said. "They're aggressive. I think we'll counter it."

Career 20-yard and 40-yard receptions.

Receiver 20-yard 40-yard
Chad Johnson 113 35
T.J. Houshmandzadeh 69 5
Chris Henry 18 8

Geoff Hobson points out that the Bengals are 17-8 when Chad Johnson hauls in a 40-yard pass since 2003. However, the Bengals (not just Chad) haven't a 40-yard reception all season -- the only other team without one are the Jacksonville Jaguars. With Fitzpatrick given plays that call for quick five-yard Houshmandzadeh zigzag routes, or quick Chad Johnson outs, or two-yard sit routes by Reggie Kelly or skinny flairs by Ben Utecht (or 3-4 yard option routes against the outside linebacker), the Bengals are the worst team in the NFL when completing 20-yard receptions -- four less than 31st Seattle.

On the other hand, the Eagles defense has allowed 27 20-yard receptions which is tied for 8th worst in the NFL. But that's it. Deep 40-Allowing 5 40-yard receptions ranks t-18th best in the in the NFL; likely a result of the quick pressure getting to the quarterback before reading and throwing the deep pass -- not throwing up a prayer.

The key for the Bengals offense is holding the Eagles pass rush.

Bengals Sacks Allowed 30 (t-28th)
Eagles Defensive Sacks 28 (4th)

Sacks allowed by the Bengals offense per game, including that team's rank.

Opponent Sacks Allowed Defensive Rank
Baltimore 2 13th (19)
Tennessee 1 7th (24)
NY Giants 6 3rd (30)
Cleveland 3 t-26th (14)
Dallas 2 5th (26)
NY Jets 5 2nd (31)
Pittsburgh 7 1st (34)
Houston 2 t-18th (17)
Jacksonville 2 t-14th (18)

The Bengals have faced five of the top seven defenses sacking the quarterback. After Sunday, with the Eagles ranked 4th, that will be six of the top seven.

Allowing 30 sacks this season against a defense that's 4th in the NFL with 28 sacks, could be disastrous for the Bengals if they're looking to force the issue of the deep pass. Fitzpatrick usually makes quick throws to his primary receiver; however, once he judges his primary is covered, typically he'll look to take off if the thought of hot-read doesn't cross his mind. Not that crazy-legs Fitzpatrick is debilitated outside of the pocket; his 174 yards rushing (7.2) ranks second behind David Garrard's 194 yards for most yards rushing by a quarterback. And his 7.2 yards-per-rush ranks 34 in the NFL (running backs included).

In the end I imagine the Bengals would utilize their big-play offense all season, if the situation allowed. Until Fitzpatrick has the confidence to sit back with solid pass protection and unleash deep throws over-the-top to Chad Johnson, or skinny deep posts to T.J. Houshmandzadeh, nothing can change. If they would have had the option to go deep, they would have by now.