Housh on Shipley

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on June 25, 2010 – 3:46 pm

Who better to ask about the prospects of Bengals rookie receiver Jordan Shipley than one of the men with whom he has been endlessly compared?

“He’s only compared to Wes Welker because he’s white and to me because he’s in Cincinnati and he plays the slot,” said T.J. Houshmandzadeh with a laugh the other day.

 “I liked what I saw of him in college. I think he’s ahead of most guys coming out when it comes to playing the slot because that’s where he played a lot. He knows the linebackers are going to try and re-direct him. He knows what to do in the middle of the field. People are going to be closer to him because he’s not in a spread offense like he was in college and he’ll have to get used to that. I played the slot a little bit in college, but not much. I had to learn play it on the fly (with the Bengals).”

Houshmandzadeh, the Bengals’ third all-time leading receiver before leaving via free agency last season, heads into his second season in Seattle and 10th in the NFL vowing to erase last year.  After catching 79 balls at 11.5 yards per catch for three touchdowns, he has been re-energized by the new offensive coordinator head coach Pete Carroll brought in, former Broncos offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, a year older than Houshmandzadeh at a soon to be 34.

Houshmandzadeh, recovering from a sports hernia surgery, could have practiced the last couple of weeks instead of just running routes and catching the ball. But this week Bates told him to forget it because he needs him for the real season and he needed to give time to a slew of guys jockeying for the No. 2 and No. 3 jobs.

“Pete is like Marvin,” Houshmandzadeh said of his old Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis. “If you’re back in three weeks, how come you weren’t back in two? But the offensive coordinator is really cool.”

And Bates, who showed his Denver receivers Houshmandzadeh’s Bengals’ tapes, also told him something he’s never heard before. He’s going to give him the chance to win the No. 1 job.

“I can’t wait,” Houshmandzadeh said. “He’s putting that on me and I’m ready to go.  That means 100 catches should be the minimum.”

Houshmandzadeh doesn’t know how many catches Shipley is going to get his rookie year, but he thinks he’ll have a better chance to get more than Houshmandzadeh’s 21 catches for 228 yards in 2001 simply because he’s a third-round pick.

“If you’re smart and you know what you’re doing and you’re better than the guy in front of you, you’ll be OK,” said Houshmandzadeh, a seventh-rounder. “If I’d been drafted higher, I would have played. They’re going to say, ‘He’s a rookie receiver,’ and all that.  It doesn’t matter.  You still have to get open and you still have to catch it.”

His advice to Shipley:

“There are times he’s going to struggle, but all you have to do is understand what you’re doing and understand what they’re trying to do to you. If you understand those two things, it’s going to make it easier for you.”

He’s watching the competition keenly because he says among Shipley, Andre Caldwell, The Ocho, and Antonio Bryant, “There’s going to be an odd man out…That should be a good receiver competition.”

Houshmandzadeh is hearing the questions nationally about Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer and shakes his head.

“Carson is a beast,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I’ve thrown with Pro Bowl quarterbacks. I’ve thrown with Super Bowl quarterbacks. You talk about release and arm, and Carson is a beast. He never throws a receiver under the bus when he throws an interception and it’s not his fault.”

He thinks Palmer has a big year this year “if they run the ball like they did last year. It’s going to be interesting. Everybody is scouting the Bengals now after going 6-0 in the division. Everybody is looking to pick up something to stop it.”

Posted in Hobson's Choice | 12 Comments »

Big Willie most underrated Bengal ever

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on June 23, 2010 – 5:54 pm

Tracked down Willie Anderson this week after Lenny Pasquarelli’s story about him on detailed his desire to get back into the NFL as a player as well as a mentor.

Anderson has harbored the desire ever since he retired last spring, but has said he needed to take the year off to address some things and now at 338 pounds and less than three weeks shy of his 35th birthday he says he’s ready for a comeback. He’s still on the Ravens reserve/retired list, so he’s their property until they release him. But the Ravens are probably the first team that would take a look at him, anyway. He says he’s had some feelers, but won’t get specific.

The Bengals and Anderson don’t look headed for a reunion despite the question marks hovering over Andre Smith’s right foot, but that’s not what was on my mind. I always go to Big Will whenever I want to talk NBA, which is not often. But with the Celtics getting beat by the Lakers in seven games, I had a lot of things I wanted to get off my chest.

Will knows how I feel about William Felton Russell. He is the greatest team player in the history of team sports. The bottom line is 11 NBA championships in 13 years. And the last two as a PLAYER-COACH.

 To put Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, or anyone else in the same breath with Bill Russell is simply a travesty. If they do it as a PLAYER-COACH with at least 11 titles, then we can begin the discussion. Until then, it’s an embarrassment. A failure of institutional memory. The triumph of the banality of Madison Avenue and the homogenization of everything from drugstores to Hall of Fame plaques.

And that got us going on the theme from Mike and Mike’s radio show on ESPN Tuesday morning. Russell has to be the most underrated player of all-time in any sport. Baseball’s Frank Robinson, another player-manager, is a distant second.  How good was F. Robby? He brought the National League’s hard-lard style to the American League and the Orioles won four pennants in his first six seasons with them.

And then I told Big Will I thought he was the most underrated Bengal of all time.

It was like Columbus discovering America when the Bengals went 8-8 in 2003. Hey look, Paul Brown Stadium isn’t a flying saucer and there’s the most dominant right tackle in the NFL. Except he’d already been there for seven years.  Anderson ended up going to the next four Pro Bowls, but it should have been at least seven and maybe eight.

“You have to win,” Anderson said. “I think the guys I went against and my teammates knew, but there was this perception out there that all of a sudden I got better. I mean, I did get better, but not that much. That’s just the way it was.”

Bengals president Mike Brown has always said that after Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz on the left side, Anderson is the best tackle in Bengals history. That has to make him the most underrated Bengal ever, although you could certainly make an argument for cornerback Ken Riley. Riley never made a Pro Bowl despite finishing with 65 career interceptions, fifth most of all-time. Maybe Ken Anderson, too, since he’s the only eligible quarterback that has at least four passing titles not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

But at least Anderson and wide receiver Isaac Curtis got their dues in a Super Bowl and Pro Bowls.  So did running back James Brooks, although he never truly got the national attention he deserved.

Anderson thinks that there are two guys he played with that also deserve to be in the discussion: Running back Corey Dillon and linebacker Takeo Spikes.

“First would be Corey and second would be Takeo,” Anderson said. “He didn’t have a passing game and he didn’t have a defense to stop anybody so that we could get the ball back and give it to him 30 times a game. He rarely got 30 carries and that’s a guy you would run to death if you could. But we couldn’t and he was still great even though everybody knew we couldn’t pass. Look at how long Takeo has played and he’s still good playing on good defenses.”

Spikes has been to two Pro Bowls, when he went with the Bills during his first two seasons in Buffalo in ’03 and ’04. Dillon did go to three Pro Bowls as a Bengal and he did get accolades for breaking two of the game’s biggest rushing records, single-game marks for a rookie and all-time. So he wasn’t as anonymous as his best lineman.

“It probably hurt me, too,” Anderson said, “that we couldn’t get him 30 carries a game.”

So I think I’d go top five underrated Bengals of all time:

Willie Anderson.

Ken Riley.

Rodney Holman. (Tight end that could do it all and that included stretching the field. Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome averaged 12.1 yards per catch and had 47 TDs. Holman had 13.6 yards per catch and 34 TDs. Of course, Newsome had 662 career catches, more than double Rodney’s 318, and that’s why he was a Hall of Famer. Holman made three Pro Bowls, but while Sam and Boomer and Eddie Brown and Tim McGee and the O-line got all the ink and sound bites, Holman quietly gave that offense its versatility and explosiveness.)

Rich Braham. (Center played hurt more than Ozzy Osbourne and in a couple of different eras. Blocked for Dillon’s record-setters and snapped for Carson Palmer’s triple-digit passer rating season. Took the Bengals three seasons to replace him.)

Jim Breech. (Yes, a kicker. Never went to a Pro Bowl. Only had two 50-yarders in a season once.  In 13 seasons as a Bengal he broke 80 percent on field goals in just three seasons. But he was nine-for-nine in OT. Case closed.)

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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 16 Comments »

Bengals down to 10 WRs

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on June 22, 2010 – 2:33 pm

With the release of Chris Davis on Tuesday, the Bengals are down to 10 wide receivers and don’t figure to cut another one until training camp. With 83 players on the roster, they still need to lose three more if all nine draft picks sign by the first practice on July 29. Davis has some return ability, but with wide receivers Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley and cornerback Adam Jones competing at punt return and running back Bernard Scott set at kick return, there just wasn’t any room.

The Bengals don’t look to be adding anybody anywhere right now.  Davis had signed with the team as a free agent March 12. He was a fourth-round Tennessee draft choice in 2007 and played in two seasons (’07 and ’08) with the Titans.

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Posted by hobsonschoice1 on June 21, 2010 – 2:11 pm

A few final impressions as the Bengals head into summer vacation.

DEFENSE SNIFFS ELITE: The numbers suggest what the practices have shown. Mike Zimmer‘s unit is on the verge of – dare we even think it – pushing Pittsburgh and Baltimore as the best defense in the AFC North.

After climbing from No. 27 to No. 12 to No. 4 under Zimmer in two seasons, the third year brings the exact same starting lineup and coaching staff and that has allowed Zimmer to reinvent his playbook without missing a beat. Someone on offense said two-thirds of what the defense showed them this spring was completely different. That is going to be a major pain for offensive coordinators.

They are playing fast and with confidence and versatility. Of course, they face a backbreaking schedule in the last two Super Bowl quarterbacks (Drew Brees and Peyton Manning), the guy who leads all active QBs with rings (Tom Brady), as well as a two-time ringmaster in Ben Roethlisberger.

But the Bengals have a lot more answers than most and it starts at cornerback. If Adam Jones stays clean, they’ve got three guys that can cover better than anybody. It is also time to extend both starters. Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall as a tandem are as important to this team as quarterback Carson Palmer. And their young linemen (Peko, Mike Johnson, Pat Sims, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap) to go along with the Geathers, Fanenes and Ruckers give them some explosive depth up front for the first time since maybe ever.

This has always been an offensive franchise.  But last year is proof that you can win a division title with a good defense and a mediocre offense.  The Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason years showed it is too hard the other way around. This is the unit, the 2010 defense, that turns it into a defensive franchise and it doesn’t mean Palmer is a lesser quarterback. If he cashes the wins, everybody is legit.

RECEIVERS UNDER GUN: Is there some uneasiness out there about what Palmer has at wide receiver? There are some questions that linger into summer. But this is also a better crew than he had last year. Antonio Bryant is better than Laveranues Coles, Andre Caldwell is better than Andre Caldwell, and Jordan Shipley is better than anybody they had in the slot last year.

Bryant looked good early, but when his knee began to give him some trouble last week, he ended the camps looking like he had all the elusiveness of the anchor formerly known as Coles. They think he’ll be OK once he gets proper rest and some rehab, and it also shows they’ve got a tenacious, conscientious guy that tried to stay on the field so he could learn the offense. If he gets the proper rest, he should be OK, but it makes the sun a little hotter.

The Ocho looked good in five practices but is that good enough to be a No. 1 receiver? He looked quick and energetic, but when you struggle surrounding your No. 1 guy like they have the last two years, he can look like a No. 2 because the defense can take him away. It’s not five years ago, but he does look like he can still be a handful if they don’t let double teams swallow him.

The best receiver in camp was Caldwell. He can play outside, inside, he knows all the spots, and he’s physical. You also wish he was more consistent catching the long ball. But he’s going to disappoint the Andre-haters out there because he looks like he’s ready to emerge in that third season.

You’ve got to love the rookie Shipley and, for that matter, Jermaine Gresham, the rookie tight end. But how much can we expect in 2010? Rookie receivers historically struggle and the slot guy and the tight end have the most on their plate mentally in the pass game besides the QB because of all the adjustments to defenses, and hot reads necessitated by playing inside. How much can rookies produce at those spots?

That said, these two guys are keepers. Gresham is the next Rodney Holman and Shipley has the tools to be a clutch third-down receiver.

But when?

So, at wide receiver, The Ocho, Bryant, Caldwell and Shipley, right?  Who are the last two to make the roster? Anybody’s guess. After running by people the first couple of weeks, Matt Jones hasn’t been as visible and they worry about his quickness in getting available in time for blitz reads. Still, he and improving Jerome Simpson give them something they haven’t had (size and hands) since Chris Henry’s injury in Game 8 last year.

How much can a 20-year-old Dez Briscoe, the sixth-rounder, reasonably help them right now? He looks good, but when?

Which seems to be the theme of it all. There is more talent at this position than in’ 09, but will we see it in ’10?

ANDRE SMITH: The Blind Side is turning out to be a better read than The Down Side. The thing is, we just don’t know enough about Smith to know what they’ve got.  Is he going to be Chris Perry or J.Joe? Is he going to be David Pollack or Leon Hall?  Is he going to be known for his play or for getting hurt?

Marvin Lewis said Smith will be back for training camp and if he can string together six weeks of practice without his foot bothering him, they’ve got a force. When he did play last year, he flashed enough to make you think they’ve got quite a specimen here that can be a factor for a long time if…

Backing him up right tackle, they’ve got a big, physical presence in the 6-9 Dennis Roland that has earned the rep as a superb technician that can tilt the running game. There is also the athleticism that makes Anthony Collins a good pass protector. It worked rotating them last year.

KICKERS: Can you go off practice where nobody is rushing and a miss or make only means the difference between when practice is over? Maybe. At the very least it has to be encouraging that Mike Nugent and Dave Rayner combined to go 23-for-24 last week and the only miss was Rayner’s 54-yarder. Shayne Graham has never made a 54-yarder, so who knows?

But you do get the sense they may be OK there. The one question is if they’ll extend the competition to training camp. With a bunch of roster battles and five preseason games, can you have two spots taken for kickers? They could decide no.

GEORGETOWN: Could we be heading to the last training camp as we know it? If the season is delayed in 2011 because of labor strife, the school won’t be an option because it will be back in session. And if the new CBA in 2012 moves back the start of training camp to accommodate an 18-game regular season, same problem. So camp would be, presumably, at Paul Brown Stadium. But that’s a big what if, isn’t it?

SPRING BALL: Good riddance. Playing football in shorts, helmets and shoulder pads is pseudo football.  Even the media controversies in May and June struggle for legitimacy, never mind the play.

In what other sport is the practice version so different than the game version?

In some sports, you can qualify for the pole and the U.S. Open in what amounts to practice sessions. In baseball you can tell if a guy can hit left-handed pitching or play the outfield as opposed to first base in simulated situations or even batting practice or infield practice. In basketball you know if a guy can shoot free throws or play defense from a simple shirts-and-skins scrimmage.

But football? If you’re not wearing pads, you’re not playing the sport.

Fourth-round pick Geno Atkins looked unblockable this spring. He looked like he was wearing the QB’s jersey he looked so alone. They think Gresham can block, but they don’t know. They think safety Roy Williams’ healed broken arm will hold up, but it hasn’t been hit consistently yet.

In the spring, the questions around an NFL team always seem to be like your lawn. They just keep growing.

Posted in Hobson's Choice | 12 Comments »

Bengals among intact leaders

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on June 7, 2010 – 2:00 pm

When I grow up, I want to be like Mike Sando, ESPN’s NFC West blogger.

Sando is always offering something different and new and this time it his chart that rates the retention of last year’s NFL rosters. It should be no surprise for a team that is lining up every 2009 Opening Day starter on defense that the Bengals have the third highest retention rate behind only the Vikings and Cowboys.

The Sandotheorem is reached like so: Add the Week 17 starters, backups, and injured reserve players that remain with the ’09 team,  and divide those totals by the sum of 53 plus all players who were on IR lists in Week 17. The Bengals came in at .883 to lead the AFC even though starters Cedric Benson, Domata Peko, Chris Crocker and Robert Geathers were rested in Week 17.

Sando says, “The starter totals can be somewhat misleading for teams that rested key players before the playoffs, but the retention rates apply equally” because every team had 53 players on its roster in Week 17.

It accurately shows which teams are trying to make another run and which are trying to reload. The Vikes (.944) and the Cowboys (.891) led the way. The Bengals lead an AFC North that has surprisingly stayed pretty pat trying to catch them. Pittsburgh is second at (.833) with the 10th-highest retention rate, followed by the Ravens (.821), the 13th. The Browns (.788) are ranked 19th.

Seattle, at .661, and Detroit, at .696, had the most offseason flux. Interesting to note that two perennial playoff teams, the Eagles (25) and Colts (26) were among the lowest in retention. They are also two clubs that always seem to try and get youth in there no matter how well they did the year before.

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Bengals’ 5 best rivalries

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on June 2, 2010 – 8:25 pm

The Celtics play the Lakers for the NBA title like they did two years ago, two decades ago and two generations ago and now everybody is listing their favorite sports rivalries.

(It seems like Phil Jackson has always been the annoying villain for a middle-aged Celtics fan. If you grew up within the length of Jackson’s beard from the Boston Garden in the early ‘70s, he was the Knicks’ counter-culture seventh man who would beat you with an evil brew of cunning and hacking. So what is different now as he whines about Kevin Garnett playing the kind of physical defense that he got away with hacking John Havlicek?)

The elements for a great rivalry must be this:  Story, back story, compelling characters, intensity, and passion with lasting memorable results translating in championships, memories, or both.

The Bengals’ five best rivalries:

1. BROWNS: Which ones?  The ones from 1968-95?

Or 1999 to now?

It has to be both. No other teams in sports play a game like this. They were both founded by the same man. One team bears his name (Cleveland) and the other plays in his stadium (Cincinnati) and they are in the same state. That trumps anything the Steelers throw at the rivalry.

But there’s more. When Baltimore went looking to lure a team to its city, the Bengals took the first visit but the Browns took the deal first. The Steelers can’t top that story.

Never mind that a Bengals-Browns game last meant something for both in December in the Reagan Administration.

But as late as 2007 the 5-9 Bengals knocked the 9-5 Browns out of the playoffs in the next to last game of the season. As late as 2003, the 4-11 Browns knocked the 8-7 Bengals out of the playoffs in the season’s last game. The Browns’ 51-45 win over the Bengals in the second game of 2007 set the tone for each’s season.

When the Bengals won in OT last year, it prevented the Browns from tying the series at 36. Then when they beat the Browns again later in the season it finished off their first division sweep ever.

There is still plenty of sizzle and now that Mike Holmgren is running the show, they will be playing important games soon enough.

2.STEELERS: Great players, great teams, any era. Ken Anderson vs. Terry Bradshaw, Carson Palmer vs. Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. Isaac Curtis vs. Lynn Swann and John Stallworth, Chad Ochocinco and T.J. Houshmandzadeh vs. Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes at wide receiver.  Bengals NFL MVP quarterback Boomer Esiason vs. Steelers Hall of Fame cornerback Rod Woodson. Bengals Pro Bowl nose tackle Tim Krumrie vs. Steelers Pro Bowl center Dermontti Dawson.

 The 12-2 Steelers edging the 11-3 Bengals before winning the Super Bowl in 1975. The Steelers smashmouthing to a 7-3 win at Riverfront in 1976 to gain the AFC Central title when both finished 10-4. The Bengals winning the AFC North in 2005 with a 38-31 win at Pittsburgh before the Steelers, on their way to the Super Bowl title, came back 34 days later in Cincinnati to win a playoff game that claimed Palmer on the second snap. The Steelers OT win in the 2006 finale at PBS that knocked the Bengals from the playoffs and the Bengals’ punch-in-the-mouth-18-12 victory that literally knocked the stuffing out of the Steelers’ run in 2009 in a game native Pittsburger Marvin Lewis called the most intense he had ever coached.

The Steelers may fuel more passion now in Bengals fans like a bolt of electricity shooting across this past decade.  But the Browns rivalry always simmers and stays hot to the touch.

3. RAVENS:  Every great rivalry needs a riveting cast of characters. In Bengals-Browns it is Paul Brown and his family vs. the great grassroots fandom he spawned in Cleveland. In Bengals-Steelers it is the great Pro Bowlers on either side. In Bengals-Ravens the central character is Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, architect of the NFL record-setting Ravens defense that won the Super Bowl following the 2000 season.

It also helps to be in the same division. And, the Ravens are really Paul Brown’s first Browns.

While Lewis coordinated that Ravens defense from 1996-2001, the Bengals were 4-8 against them and 0-4 in the Ravens’ new stadium. Since Lewis arrived, the Bengals are 9-5 and 4-3 in Baltimore, including Palmer engineering a 24-point fourth quarter in 2004 for a last-second win and an 80-yard come-from-behind touchdown drive last year that was consummated with 22 seconds left.

In between there have been classic taut battles pitting the high-powered Bengals offense against the top five Ravens defense. Palmer leads Rex Ryan, Ray Lewis and friends, 8-3, in his 11 starts against them.

The Bengals turned the tables when they won their nationally televised opener at PBS in 2007 with a goal-line stand. And last year in Baltimore running back Cedric Benson made sure the Ravens defense wouldn’t repeat its feat under Lewis of going 50 straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. Benson’s 120 yards stopped this streak at 39, making it a doubly satisfying day for Lewis.

Now that’s a rivalry.

4. 49ers: There is always going to be something there since the Bengals lost to them in both of their Super Bowls, both times at the hands of the man that so desperately wanted to succeed Paul Brown in Cincinnati, Bill Walsh.

They play so rarely now that it doesn’t have the heat it had 20 years ago, when the Niners came to town for one last time under Joe Montana to deliver a crushing overtime win during the Bengals’ ’90 playoff run.  They’ve played only five times since.

But Montana’s heroics and the franchises’ intermingling DNA are the stuff of great rivalries. The ’90 OT win came on top of Montana’s last-play 25-yard floater to Jerry Rice out-deking rookie cornerback Eric Thomas in the end zone in the 1987 stunner and his 10-yard dart to John Taylor that won the Super Bowl with 34 seconds left in the 1988 season.

Throw in the fact that Walsh tutored Bengals quarterback Kenny Anderson before he threw for 300 yards against him in Super Bowl XVI and that Bengals head coach Sam Wyche mentored Montana before he broke his heart in that last 92-yard drive seven years later and the thing reads more like a Shakespearean tragedy than an NFL Films script.

Hey, the Capulets and the Montagues were a big rivalry in the Verona North Division.

 5. PATRIOTS: OK, OK, I’ll get heat for this one. But hear me out.

Any great rivalry has to have some history and these teams have been playing long enough that the Bengals played at Fenway Park and the Boston Patriots played at Nippert Stadium.

They’ve got to be involved in some memorable moments and the Bengals’ 45-7 win over the Patriots in the last game of 1970 ended with Brown getting carried off the Riverfront turf after they became the youngest expansion team ever (three years old) to make the playoffs.

Then 18 years later in Foxboro the Bengals’ stunning 6-0 start came to a grinding halt late in the game when Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie pulled off a quarterback draw on third-and-18.

And every rivalry has to have a few back stories.

In 2001, the last normal Sunday before 9/11, the Jon Kitna era opened in Cincinnati with the new Bengals quarterback besting the Patriots’ Drew Bledsoe on Opening Day, 23-17. Because of a pregame glitch, Paul Brown Stadium public address announcer Tom Kinder didn’t announce the New England starting lineup, so the Patriots ran out as a team.

That began a tradition of being introduced as a unit instead of individuals that the Pats carried to their improbable Super Bowl win in New Orleans over the favored Rams 19 weeks later, where their quarterback was a pretty important individual named Tom Brady.

In 1990, in the wake of the Bengals’ 41-7 dismantling of the Pats that ran their record to 3-0, New England owner Victor Kiam was overheard in the Riverfront visitors locker room insulting Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson. The remark further deepened the club’s sexual harassment scandal and may have helped spawn Wyche’s move the next week in Seattle when he began his crusade against women media in the locker room.

How about a spicy trade for a rivalry?

 The Bengals shipped their all-time leading rusher and disgruntler, Corey Dillon, to the Pats before the 2004 season for a second-round pick. When they met on Dec. 12 in Foxboro, Palmer and Brady hooked up in a duel while Dillon was outrushed by the Bengals’ Rudi Johnson, 89-88.

But after Palmer’s touchdown pass to Chad Johnson cut the lead to 21-14, he left with a sprained knee and 202 yards passing in the middle of the third quarter and the Pats went on to a 35-28 victory and another Super Bowl title even though the 478 yards they allowed the Bengals were the most they gave up all season.

It has set a tone. Palmer is 0-3 against Brady, his fellow California flinger, since leaving the shootout.

But he gets another shot. Soon.

Yes Virginia, they open another season this year.

Sept. 12.

In Foxboro.

Does the visiting team win the Super Bowl again?

Does Palmer finally beat Brady in the building where he almost got him six years ago?

Questions that belong to a pretty good rivalry.

But let’s see what you got.

Posted in Hobson's Choice | 20 Comments »

Just saying

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on June 1, 2010 – 2:24 pm

Just going through some posts and a couple jumped out at me.

One was from The Boot about how there has been outside negativity about Cincinnati sports dating back to the old days of the Reds and this: “Do any of you out there have even the slightest bit of respect for the Yankees? I didn’t think so and those who do, in the words of WC Fields.. Go away..You bother me.

BOOT: As a guy who still vomits when he sees Johnny Bench’s opposite field double into the corner off Bill Lee to open the top of the ninth of Game Two in ’75, I have to disagree.

At least in my world the Reds were always highly-regarded. They were the epitome of class, execution, organization. Cold, hard killers. Professional assassins. They were the Dodgers for that generation of the late ’60s, all the ’70s, and a sliver of the ’80s.

I think they took a huge hit in that department during the Schott era, but it is coming back.  Slowly. Hard to miss with a guy like Jocketty.

As for the Yankees, sorry to bother you.

They turn my stomach, but I’ve got a lot of respect for Jeter, Rivera, Posada. True professionals that I enjoy watching play the game even if they kill me. Just like Roy White, Chris Chambliss, and Ron Guidry back in the day.

Of course, I couldn’t stand the rest. And watching this current crop handle itself, led by the juvenile A-Rod, a guy that will never learn how to act on the field, it is like watching a bunch of Knothole kids when they win.

But I do respect the Big Three and the team as a whole. I respect doctors, too, but I hate going to them.

TEPID:  Your post about Robert Geathers’ declining stats was the inspiration for my Sunday column about the dangers of getting married to individual stats when it comes to football. It is why you are putting Geathers and Andre Caldwell on the bubble.

Then I saw your follow-up with this line: “Individual stats when totaled define a good offense and defense; they are not meaningless.”

But in the years you have Geathers declining, the total defensive rank has risen from 27 to 12 to 4 in the NFL:  Individual stats are meaningless when not put in the context of scheme and personnel.

The stats don’t tell you that last year Geathers was coming off microfracture knee surgery, a major procedure. And they don’t tell you because of the injuries to Peko and Odom, he rarely came off the field. His teammates have so much respect for him because they knew he was hurting and yet he took every snap he could because there was no one else.

The stats also don’t tell you that he’s played a slew of different positions and played different roles over the past three seasons. He started at SAM backer for a month in 2007. He’s played both ends, he’s played inside, he’s played a little nose tackle. His versatility allows them use some 3-4 principles out of a 4-3 base.

And the stats don’t tell you what a stolid, silent leader he’s been. He arrived at age 20, is going into his seventh season, and gives them stability to go along with his versatility.

Yeah, you wish he’d had some more sacks after those 10.5 in ’06. But he’s also in a different role. Back then he was coming off the bench on third down. Now he’s always on the field.  I’m sure Marvin would like more tackles from him, but he gladly took his leadership and toughness last year. To me, Geathers is   the type of player that shows numbers can’t always compute to football production.

Geathers is simply a good, tough, solid player that does a lot of things well. No way is he a bubble guy.

You’ve got a point with Caldwell. He makes the team, but he’ll have his hands full.

Again, I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in your stats. What were they in the first half of the season when he had a vertical threat on the field in Chris Henry? And you can’t compare Caldwell to Houshmandzadeh. It was a different pass offense with different personnel. Housh had Henry, Caldwell had Laveranues Coles. Enough said.

Got a stat for game-winning TDs in last 22 seconds against division foes?

I think he’s going to be OK, but, yeah, he’s going to have to grind it with some other guys to make it. At the very least he’s got to prove he can hold on to the ball.

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