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Rookies Keep Impressing: Bengals Defense Dominates Eagles In 22-9 Win

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If the plan is to improve throughout the preseason, then that plan is coming together nicely. The team's running game is starting to look as if they're in midseason form with the dueling Cedrics combining for 77 yards on 22 carries, scoring two touchdowns. With all of the talent that we're going to be forced to release, you can add Cedric Peerman into those discussions. Not only is he tough to bring down, he runs with ambition.

The hit on Chad Ochocinco scared me a little, especially when it looked like he couldn't stand in the initial moments he was trying to get up. Terrell Owens caught a 43-yard pass; so far the longest reception by a wide receiver during the preseason.

That's not to say mistakes aren't there. Carson Palmer's timing with Chad Ochocinco still seems off, as does his continued propensity to throw the ball too high at times. Penalties are still a problem. And I'm not talking about aggressive penalties that you can forgive. No, it's those damned presnap fouls that should be avoidable.

Regardless, this was the defenses best performance of the preseason. Not that it should be surprising, considering this is only the third preseason game. Along with allowing a team-high 13.33% conversion rate on third downs, the Bengals allowed only 270 yards; mostly a result from a season-low 145 net yards passing.

Things I liked.

  • Think Geno Atkins makes the team? Not only does he lead the team with 3.5 quarterback sacks, the rookie defensive tackle leads the team with 14 total tackles. Another rookie, linebacker Vincent Rey, could make the team quietly, having recorded 13 total tackles through three preseason games.
  • Carlos Dunlap was impressive against the Eagles, recording a quarterback sack, another hit on the quarterback and three combined tackles. Though it seems like the team should give him a slightly bigger jersey.
  • Bengals third down defense only allowed two first downs out of 15 tries.
  • Carson Palmer actually threw an accurate vertical pass; a 43-yard reception to Terrell Owens.
  • Defense didn't allow a touchdown and only allowed the Eagles offense into the Red Zone once, thanks to Carson Palmer interception his side of the field.

Things I didn't like.

  • The Bengals were called for 10 penalties with 75 yards lost. In each of the team's preseason games, the Bengals have either committed 10 penalties or recorded more than 100 yards lost to penalties.
Game Penalties Yards Lost
Cowboys 12 90
Broncos 7 104
Eagles 10 75
     

Even considering that the Bengals have played three games this preseason and many teams are gearing up to play their second preseason game this year, the Bengals are dominating the NFL with 29 penalties for 269 yards lost.

Interesting Stats. The Bengals offense have performed better then their offensive counterparts. If you combine the offenses of the Cowboys, the Broncos and the Eagles, the Bengals offense has more first downs (51-47), rushing first downs (17-14), passing first downs (31-28), third down conversions (36.4%-23.3%), time of possession (32:24-27:36), total net yards (933-854) and yards rushing (340-246).

Interesting Stat II: Bengals quarterbacks have been sacked seven times through three games. The defense has recorded ten quarterback sacks.

Interesting Stat III: The Bengals have recorded six total points in the first and third quarters combined, outscored in those quarters by 17 points (23-6). However, the Bengals have outscored their opponents in the second and fourth quarters by a combined 30 points (56-26).

Interesting Stat IV: Bengals defense hasn't allowed any offense during the preseason to record 300 net yards.

Morgan Trent records three interceptions and shouts out, I'm still here boys. With so much talent at cornerback, someone isn't going to make the team. Once you get past the starters in Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall, the most likely candidate for nickel in Adam Jones, the Bengals will likely have two roster spots for Morgan Trent, Brandon Ghee and David Jones.

Before Friday night, I would have guess Trent would be the odd man out. After a three-interception performance against the Eagles, I'm not so sure. While I usually default myself in the prediction game of the Bengals likely keeping players they drafted, David Jones also recorded a 24-yard interception return for touchdown. Trent's first interception led to a Bengals missed field goal while his second led to Cedric Peerman's one-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Jermaine Gresham continues to impress. If we were foolish enough to claim it, then let's say that Jermaine Gresham is a future hall of famer. Alright. Alright. So I tend to be melodramatic at times. I'm really excited about the team's first round rookie this year. After recording back-to-back three-reception games in limited time, I'm quickly believing that Gresham could have the best hands on this team. He lines up anywhere on the field, ranging from his natural tight end spot, to slot to even flanking wide.

Not only that, but Carson Palmer is becoming very comfortable with Gresham, whose all three receptions were converted for first downs.

Gresham has six receptions this preseason for 71 yards receiving.

What happened to Jordan Shipley? After being so vital during last week's performance against the Broncos, rookie wide receiver Jordan Shipley was virtually shut out. After an incomplete pass to Shipley with 13:15 left in the first quarter, the rookie receiver caught a seven-yard pass with 13:13 left in the second quarter.

I'm not sure if that's by design or if he just wasn't open. But Shipley was only targeted twice on Friday. I'm going with by-design. Since all indications are that Shipley makes the team, it's possible the Bengals wanted to give Andre Caldwell more opportunities, who was targeted three times, catching two for 16 yards receiving.

Where o' where could our quarterbacks be? I know it's only three preseason games. But through those three preseason games, all three Bengals quarterbacks have a combined one touchdown pass through 104 passing attempts. Neither J.T. O'Sullivan or Jordan Palmer are completing half of the passes and all three quarterbacks have thrown a combined six interceptions.

Again, I know it's early. But are there concerns about Carson Palmer? In the 12 drives that he's played this year, the first team offense has punted five times, turned it over three times, missed two field goals and scored two touchdowns -- both rushes.

Drive Opponent Drive Plays Yards 1st Downs Result
1 Cowboys 1 5 9 1 Punt
2 Cowboys 2 4 14 1 Punt
3 Broncos 1 9 33 3 Missed FG
4 Broncos 2 7 24 1 TO on Downs
5 Broncos 3 13 88 5 Touchdown
6 Eagles 1 4 16 1 Punt
7 Eagles 2 5 28 2 Interception
8 Eagles 3 5 6 1 Punt
9 Eagles 4 9 37 3 Punt
10 Eagles 5 2 49 2 Touchdown
11 Eagles 6 8 30 2 Interception
12 Eagles 7 4 12 1 Missed FG

Now the reason that there's no need to concern ourselves with this is that most NFL teams call vanilla plays to keep their best stuff off the films, which is completely understandable.

Really, Jerome? Jerome Simpson had a nice 22-yard reception down the right sidelines. He redirected left, running across the field. With the football away from his body, Eagles defensive back Dimitri Patterson stripped the football. Chase Coffman recovered the football and the Bengals kept possession. Two thoughts occurred to me. One is: Really? You're not secured with a roster spot and you handle the football so carelessly that you fumble it. Two is: Man, he looks Chad Ochocinco with the football being far away from his body.

Not only did he not another reception, that was the only time any quarterback targeted him in the passing game.

Thought we can't give him too much flack. So far this preseason, Simpson ranks second on the team with 75 yards receiving.

Adam Jones is a keeper. We could say this all year, if it keeps going. But Adam Jones isn't just a renewed man, he's going to be more than a contributor for this team. Each game that goes by, the more I feel Jones could be a play-maker; especially on the turn game. Combining two punt and two kickoff returns, Jones recorded 84 yards, including a crazy 40-yard kickoff return where he his lane shutdown. So he did what any of us would do. Run backwards, turn left, and find a makeshift wall with about eight Bengals players blocking his way for 40 yards (should have been 50).

While I'm feeling more and more confident that Jones will be the guy that knocks Quan Cosby off the roster, Cosby isn't going quietly. He recorded his own 41 yard kickoff return.

Your turn. What were your thoughts.