Wednesday wrap: Brat calls for protection

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on August 12, 2010 – 5:03 am


GEORGETOWN, Ky. – After Wednesday night’s practice offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski indicated the first-team offense is going to get more snaps this Sunday night against Denver at Paul Brown Stadium than it got in the Hall of Fame Game against the Cowboys.

Quarterback Carson Palmer’s group wasn’t good, but he also didn’t think they were “miserable,” and Bratkowski pretty much isolated his concern from Canton as well as for the rest of the season. The pass-protection wasn’t sharp.

“He had some pressure.  In essence that is going to be the key to our pass game; the protection,” Bratkowski said.  “In many cases the reason we did what we did last year was to help that young group out and to run the ball and not put a lot of pressure on them to drop back and throw it all the time. We’re improving as a pass-protection unit, but they still have a ways to go.”

Bratkowski thinks things would have looked better if the first-teamers had 15 of 20 snaps, although he’s not exactly sure how many they’ll get against the Broncos. He liked some of the things they did, although he said the four of Palmer’s five passes headed to wide receiver Terrell Owens were not designed and were  dictated by coverage that shifted to wide receiver Chad Ochocinco.

“I think we had 14 practices prior to that game and Dallas had somewhere around 26. They were a little ahead of us. Give us another 15 to 20 plays on offense and we’ll see what happens,” Bratkowski said.

Take Wednesday night. The Bengals were much sharper passing the ball compared to a comatose effort in the morning. The no-huddle looked crisp and Palmer hooked up with The Ocho and Owens on some long plays. The Ocho made a particularly nice grab over the middle in which he fended off cornerback Johnathan Joseph and safety Roy Williams and then broke away from them toward the right sideline.


» Defensive tackle Tank Johnson sat out the evening practice in shells after working in the morning in pads while fellow starter Domata Peko flipped the workouts.

» Cornerback Adam Jones, nursing a couple of nicks, practiced, both sessions. Rookie cornerback Brandon Ghee didn’t but thinks he can play Sunday.

» Bengals Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz arrived on campus with an arm in his sling after some extensive shoulder surgery, a gift from his 13-year-playing career.  The procedure came at a tough time. Muñoz has never missed a Hall of Fame induction since he went in back in 1998, but he had to bow out of this one because he was just a week removed from the operation.

Tough because he wanted to be there for former Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau’s induction and while he doesn’t usually stay for the game, he would have watched the Bengals play the Cowboys. Now he’s prepping for his 13th season as the TV analyst on the Bengals preseason games and Sunday night’s debut with new play-by-play man Dan Hoard on Channel 12.  If the 7 p.m. game isn’t sold out by the Thursday deadline, it will be tape delayed at 11:30 p.m.

“I’ve worked with Dan doing high school games and I know he’s excellent. If he can tolerate me we’ll be OK,” said Muñoz, who worked for several years with Paul Keels. “I got spoiled with Paul but I know Dan will do a great job.”

Hoard, the radio voice of University of Cincinnati football and basketball, is taking a break from his play-by-play duties with the Triple A Red Sox in Pawtucket, R.I. Keels, the radio voice of Ohio State football and basketball, is tied up with calling the Reds on Fox Sports Ohio.

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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 20 Comments »

20 Responses to “Wednesday wrap: Brat calls for protection”

  1. By atn1980 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    Good to see that the coaches saw what everyone else saw, a offensive line that looked horrible. I don’t know if it was the lack of practice or lack of dept… But something has to change. I’m not a football coach but I would hope they hammer home the penalties are unacceptable. Holding is only OK when you are protecting Carson’s blind side, I’ll take ten yards every once and a while to keep Carson healthy. But false starts, holding calls away from the play, and not lining up correctly have to stop.

  2. By phlockar on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply


    If Andre Smith is more known for his run blocking than what do we have to look forward to in getting the passing protection up to par? Besides more practice…

  3. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    GUYS: Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski’s words on Wednesday night should be required reading for the national media that is hell-bent on turning Carson Palmer into some kind of Freaky Friday combination of David Klingler and Akili Smith.

    Palmer’s numbers dipped not because he’s experiencing some kind of mid-life quarterback crisis, but because they were afraid of exposing him to an untried line and protected him by running the ball. How can you ignore seven last-drive points for wins or ties in one season? If he did that in the Meadowlands or Foxboro, or the NFC East, they’d build a monument to him.

    And thank heavens the Bengals changed emphasis. I think a major reason his numbers dipped in ’07 is because teams know they weren’t committed to the run and they knew exactly where to find him two-thirds of the time: Seven steps behind center and having to make some kind of big-time throw on time with the defenses dropping in zone.

    They had to make it easier on him and they did and hats off to them.

    That said, why the Bengals haven’t been able to protect better down here or in their first game this year is puzzling. One reason is that the defense is always ahead of the offense and Mike Zimmer is working on countless of pressures that will baffle even the best offenses. And the first game is always the first game and the Cowboys had about a dozen more practices than the Bengals.

    But fans don’t want to hear that. They want to see pass protection that is supposed to be better with an intact offensive line and the return of tight end Reggie Kelly.

    Andre Smith isn’t a bad pass blocker it’s just that his strength is run blocking. He would certainly be as good as Dennis Roland and probably better pass protecting, but don’t sell Roland short. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander says he’s the line’s best technician and you can give him a little help with speed rushers.

    How to improve pass pro? Get Smith in the lineup, keep running the ball, and keep the defenses guessing with the different formations. One thing you know is that left tackle Andrew Whitworth won’t give up many sacks.

  4. By looking4sb1 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    Honestly, as good as Andre Smith is supposed to be, it scares me to think that we are depending on him for such an important role as protecting Carson in pass protection. I’m sorry that I’m throwing money into the equation, but for a man that is making millions of first round money not to be motivated enough to come into camp in shape really tells me a lot about that person’s work ethic. Who’s to say that he won’t end up taking plays off? Who’s to say that one of those plays doesn’t put Carson out for the rest of his career?

    Personally, I’d rather have a person like Roland out there — who you know is going to give it maximum effort every time. He may not give the most time possible for Palmer on every play but at least he’ll try to give the most time for Palmer on every play that he possibly can. On the other hand, Smith seems like the type of player that will be great when he gives the effort. However, it is the times when he slacks off that could be dangerous.

    Then again, maybe it’s just my frustrations about Smith talking.

  5. By atn1980 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    I don’t know if I’m seeing the same thing you see Geoff. I see a line that is very inconsistent. I don’t blame one guy on the line… I blame them all. I think everyone has their moment of “stupidity”. I wish it was one guy who I could single out, but there’s not. Each guy on the line screws up at different times (usually the worst possible time). I think that is why it so frustrating for me, they all of them have had drive stalling penalties. Unless they can start gelling together soon, I foresee a very similar offense as last year… and that is not a sign of a good football team.

  6. By rparr32 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    Geoff: With all of this depth all over the field, shouldnt the bengals consider making a trade for an Olineman before they makes some cuts they really dont want to, and let another team pick these players up after they clear waivers for free. Baltimore needs DB’s, and even if you dont wanna trade within your division there are still alot of teams deep at Oline that have needs elsewhere.

  7. By phlockar on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    I’m a Reds fan as well and I think pro teams in Cincinnati are cursed when it comes to playing on national TV.

    We should have a better “fan’s evalutation” after the Denver game Sunday. Like we’ve heard…the HOF game was the same as if we were in our mock game in Georgetown. I think it’s a little early to pass judgement

  8. By blester01 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    Hob, when talking about Palmer you also have to take into consideration the damage (physical & mental) he has sustained from working behind a sub-par OL since 2006. Palmers numbers look ok on paper for 2006 & 2007 if you look only at yardage & TD’s. But his completion % has dropped almost every year since 2005. This has a lot to do with the OL in front of him that fell apart after the 2005 season.

    Since the 2005 offseason, he has had to focus on rehabbing some part of his body rather then working on his technique & footwork. Last year they could not have opened the passing game even if they wanted to b/c his technique was a mess which led to many of his random mis-fires. This was the first offseason that I can remember where he could actually go to passing camps. Because of this I think we will see an improved Palmer this season, but the key the OL has to give him the time and provide a good pocket for him to step into his throws. Without it the media’s claims will look correct.

  9. By rparr32 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    If I start my car after sitting for a year and it runs bad ok fine you can say its running bad because it sat a year. But if it is still running bad after a total of a week and a half of driving it (aka the bengals) it needs some fixing. These guys have been practicing for more than a week (aka OTA’s) not to mention none of them are rookies or new to the club. When you get dominated by the cowboys up front there is a major problem, and if you wanna contend you better get it fixed while there is time left in camp. i get so tired as a bengals fan to hear all of these excuses “well he missed a couple days practice, he did this, he did that.” They knew the pass protection was poor last year that is why they ran the ball so much, but yet they did nothing about it. Their answer was well we got Andre coming back. Well WHOOPEEE, he was a bad seed from the beginning missing practice, leaving the draft workout and the list goes on and on. Why do they always put all of their eggs in one basket? The Browns have been in football long enough to know that if you dont win up front you dont win. Period!!! I give them some credit with what they have been trying to do in free agency and the draft but they were a little excessive in a few departments like WR. They could of used one or two of those spots for an OLineman Hint Hint Flozell Adams…They better get a few guys in here to stiffen up the competetion at Oline before its too late. I fear another bust this year if they dont. I can see it now (Lord Forbid) Carson laying on the ground with another bloody nose or maybe something more severe. You have to know that they are gonna try and pass the ball more with all of these weapons and the outcome is not gonna be good without a better line. you can say well Flozell was old or this or that, well Bobby williams isnt young and he does an pretty good job, neither is TO but everybody was on that wagon. If he has issues you cut him, but to just let a player pass by when you know you need help there is rediculous. They better get a move on….

  10. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    BLESTER: If I’m not mistaken, Palmer has participated in every offseason camp since 2007. After he hurt his elbow early in the ’08 season, he was cleared in January of ’09 and had been throwing at home before he showed up for the workouts.

    You’re right, his 60.5 percentage was the lowest of his career for a full season. But the 15-20 drops would have put him close to normal. Yeah, he had some bad throws, but he also didn’t have his go-to guys T.J. Houshmandzadeh (short) and Chris Henry (deep).

    I know, I know. I talked to Ron Jaworski at the league meetings in March and he thought Palmer broke down mechanically late in the season. But I wonder how much that was not knowing where some of those guys were going to be.

    In general, I agree. But having a healthy Smith would be a big plus. I don’t think you can blow that off. I also think you can’t push a hot button after two series. But, to me, Brat said. It all comes down to pass protection, but I don’t see a guy out there that is an automatic fix that would be worth giving up somebody.

  11. By 2ndboot on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    Maybe it’s me, but next draft it seems getting some real top shelf O-linemen OR forking over some decent money in FA might not be such a horrible idea, but if they do PLEASE don’t grab a guy who is money first, effort later as it appears to be with Smith..
    Still, you’re right. There is no real hurry to write Smith off quite this soon. He really hasn’t spent much time on the field yet to make a definitive judgment, but if we go through all this all year with him one can only assume that beating a dead horse is only beating a dead horse and the horse isn’t going to win the Kentucky Derby any time soon.

  12. By looking4sb1 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    To me, Andre Smith is the Jamarcus Russell of offensive linemen — he got his big payday, now he’s just going to milk it for what he can. Until he can keep his weight under control and stay on the field (without coaches having to monitor him “hourly”), to me, he is just another talented kid with no work ethic milking the system.

    I feel sorry for the rest of the team. Especially Carson, who’s on the hot seat with a lot of media and fans this year. If he doesn’t light it up this year, he’s going to have a lot of blame placed on his shoulders. The unforunate part is that, like last year, it isn’t going to be his fault. It’s difficult for a quarterback to play good football with a mediocre offensive line.

  13. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 12, 2010 | Reply

    MY MAN RPARR: I understand the frustration, but that’s a mid-season rant you got going there. Let’s get to Labor Day. Or at least 10 snaps.

  14. By rparr32 on Aug 13, 2010 | Reply

    Hob…you are exactly right with it being a mid season rant, and maybe I do need to see a few more snaps, but this has been going on since last year and they were aware of it then. I have no problem with the fact that its early and preseason, but if you want to win you dont just do a few things and then stop! It is a yearly effort and a “JOB,” and it takes just that. If you want to fill the seats and bring back excitement to this city then you have to treat it that way. Just because you make a few changes doesnt mean you stop, especially when you know there is a lingering problem. It always seems to be just enough, and never enough for us fans. We are tired of hearing excuses and tired of the bull. It is time to man up!!!!!! Ok, you have done a little more than the normal typical bengals because you know it takes at least that to sell seats, but that does not mean it ends. We wanna see major effort to attempt to put a SUPER BOWL team on the field, and if it fails so be it. We as fans know there are problems and you dont just sit by the way side and watch because you feel you have done enough. I have never been a coach and dont ever want to be one, but I can tell you this, I could have this team turned around in a matter of weeks, and put it on the right path to success…..

  15. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 13, 2010 | Reply

    R – still going, huh?

    It has been going on since the last three games of ’06. It takes an Act of Congress for this offense to score 24 points.

    But the way I look at it, last year was the start of addressing the issues and turning it around with a running game commitment in the post-Willie and post-Levi era. With this defense, the key number is 24.5 or so points per game. With Zimmer around, 24.5 gets you 10, 11, maybe 12 wins.

    I don’t know what man up means in this context, but I’d say dropping $12M on two wide receivers and spending a first-round pick on a tight end put some hairs on the chest. But, look, let’s talk after Philly. Meet me here Aug. 21.

  16. By rparr32 on Aug 13, 2010 | Reply

    Will do Hob, and I’m honored that you even asked. I really hope you are right because I like you have a deep desire to see this team win.

  17. By blester01 on Aug 13, 2010 | Reply

    Hob, my point is this: Palmer has not had a dominant OL in front of him since 2005, the year he put up his biggest numbers and there is a direct correlation. From 2006 to 2009, his production dropped as the OL fell apart from age and being riddled with injuries. I bet Jaws would agree with me that his mechanics got worse during those years b/c of the beating he was taking behind a patch work OL.

    Last year, the team finally refocused on rebuilding the OL (a year later than I would have liked to have seen), and they took the pressure off of Palmer by focusing on the run. You could tell Palmer was not the same guy we were used to seeing last year, for instance the long pass to Henry in the Baltimore game was a duck that Chris managed to make a play on it that helped swing the momentum of that game (one-handed catch even if I remember correctly).

    I am not concerned by the poor play of the OL against Dallas. I think they will get better throughout the preseason, and I look forward to finally seeing Smith make it on the field. There were several factors going against them in that game: less no. of practices under their belt, and it seems like Marvin doesn’t really “game plan” against opponents in early preseason games so they were not prepared for the Cowboy’s blitzes. They actually moved the ball at will against the Cowboys when they played their base package.

    I think we will actually see a resurgence of Palmer at QB this season. So I agree the media is throwing him under the bus way to early. Reminds me of Boomer when he came back to Cincy and people were talking how his shoulder was done, but he put up some huge numbers when he took over the starting job.

    Two things I noticed in the Cowboys game that no one has talked about: Palmer’s mechanics looked good in the pocket; and he was stepping into his throws even in the face of pressure. The past couple of years he has been throwing off his back foot in pressure, which causes the balls to sail (causing drops or misfires). If the OL can create some nice pockets for him this season and he continues to improve his mechanics, we should see his completion % and QB rating jump back up, and we should get some W’s as well.

  18. By blester01 on Aug 13, 2010 | Reply

    Hob, any chance we see them go after a trade for one of the two OL holdouts (LT McNeil & LG Mankins)?

    I think this is the type of move that would reassure fans like R that they are aiming for the SB (the TO definitely indicates that though). It would also help solidify the OL and upgrade them from an above average line to possibly giving them one of the most dominate lines in the league.

  19. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 13, 2010 | Reply

    Highly doubtful they make those moves. They don’t pay guards elite money and I’m not sure they should (i.e. Steinbach)and when they next drop big money it is most likely going to be on one of their own.

    I mean, how bad can this line be? It swept a very physical division last year. Heck, ask New England about Baltimore.

    I don’t think they have to go out and get a tackle to prove they’re serious about winning it all.

    As for Palmer, I think he’s very underrated out of the pocket. They always seem pretty successful when they change his release point now and then so he’s not a sitting duck.

    Interesting thing about ’07, when the passing game began to struggle. Henry was suspended for the first eight games and running back Rudi Johnson’s yard per dipped to under 4.0. They actually allowed just 17 sacks, the fewest in team history.

    Receivers, the back, or o-line to blame for Palmer’s struggles? Probably all three.

  20. By blester01 on Aug 13, 2010 | Reply


    I don’t think the line is bad, but there is definitely room to improve, e.g. Livings at LG & we have no idea if they are going to get consistent production at RT. All great teams control the LOS on both sides of the ball. I think they are good to win games, but right now I don’t think we can say that they can dominate the LOS. Getting a guy like McNeil would help bring them up to that level, but I agree I don’t think it is realistic that we will see them make an aggressive move like that.

    To counter your point about 2007, Rudi’s numbers dipped b/c he had no running lanes from the OL’s terrible play after the unit was decimated by injuries. Yes, they only allowed 17 sacks, but that number is very deceptive.

    I would love to know how many hurries or QB pressures they allowed. I am sure it is a very high percentage per pass attempt since I remember Palmer forcing throws and picking himself off the turf very frequently. The pressure is what has hurt his stats and mechanics and brought about his happy feet. Yes, last year’s WR corp did not help. Keep in mind that sacks actually don’t effect a QB’s rating, pressures do.

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