Thoughts on a bus

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on September 1, 2010 – 8:45 pm

INDIANAPOLIS – Thoughts on a bus:

» The Bengals rolled up Interstate 74 Wednesday afternoon in about as good a shape as they’ve been 24 hours before a Marvin Lewis preseason finale.

If the burning issues are kicker, backup quarterback, the fifth and sixth receivers, and the fourth safety, things can’t be all that bad. It’s not ideal, but there are teams in their own division grappling with much larger issues. The Ravens are piecing together a secondary, the Steelers are trying to get to 2-2 without Ben Roethlisberger and maybe a veteran right tackle, and the Browns are trying to find a running game because if they put it all on Jake Delhomme…

» That said, those are concerns. I love kicker Mike Nugent’s track record, but not his injury history. I love backup quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan’s experience but not his stats (55.4 rating). I love Jerome Simpson’s stats (13.5 yards per catch), but not his experience.

» It’s all fine and dandy and Brett Favre to have a speculative roster plotted out: In a nod to injuries, four running backs, no fullbacks, four tight ends. In a nod to special teams, seven linebackers. In a nod to Peyton Manning not playing Thursday night but in the Lucas Oil Stadium return engagement Nov. 14, six cornerbacks.

Who knows? Those may not be the numbers. Besides, in an instant everything can change Thursday night. And it doesn’t have to be an injury to a starter, which is going to be tough to happen since they are probably all going to be out of there midway through the first quarter. If they ever get in at all.

Still, think back to Lewis’ first preseason and that finale, also in Indy. When holder Nick Harris let one slide through his hands, everything changed. Kicker Neil Rackers got hurt chasing down the ball, couldn’t kick in the opener, and Shayne Graham came to Cincinnati via the waiver wire.

Knock on wood, throw salt over the shoulder, wear a Bengals T-shirt backwards, whatever you have to do to ward off the fates. But a lot hinges on about 35 guys getting out of Indy healthy.

» How much different will the roster look at Saturday’s noon cutdown compared to Sunday’s noon finalization? Probably not much. First, the Bengals claim 21st off the waiver wire. How many guys can get they get that far down? They wouldn’t have gotten Graham. They were first that year. Maybe they could get a young fullback.

And it would be hard to see them signing any vested free-agent veterans before the opener because their full season salary would be guaranteed if they’re on the 53 Opening Day.

Unless, maybe, if it was a kicker and they’d just be exchanging the same salary.

But no way would they trade for a quarterback making in excess of $2 million, a la Matt Leinart. Now if they decide they need a backup, maybe they’d pursue a guy like that after the opener, but it’s more likely if they trade it’s going to be for a younger guy they can develop and that won’t mind sitting. They aren’t alone. No one is going to give Leinart or guys of that ilk their current salary.

If there is a major change it would no doubt come the week after the opener.

» Guys to keep an eye on Thursday?

Obviously the kickers. O’Sullivan. Safeties Kyries Hebert and Rico Murray. Can either guy amp up their play from scrimmage to match what they do on special teams? Fourth-round pick Roddrick Muckelroy. The Texas linebacker has been saddled by hamstring problems. But he had a good night in Buffalo. Can he put together back-to-back games? Center-guard Reggie Stephens, the seventh-rounder, and right guard Otis Hudson, the fifth-rounder? Can both make it?

And who knows, maybe they’ve made it or they haven’t made it according to The List that only the powers that be know. But like Nugent said, if they already made up their minds, they probably would have done something by now.

And, oh yeah, you’ve got to watch Simpson and Quan Cosby. They are the most fun to watch of the receivers battling for the final two spots. So different, but fun. It’s interesting to see if they’re the two guys that make it. You could see where it may be a weekly decision on which one the Bengals keep active depending on the opponent. On Tuesday, Lewis talked about how difficult it is for foes to prepare for three different kind of returners, Cosby’s strength. And what if you play a club struggling with short corners in the secondary and you think you could exploit Simpson’s hops if he can harness the  snap-to-snap consistency with routes and assignments the coaches keep harping on?

» One of the great reasons to say goodbye to the preseason is that you can sense The Ocho getting jacked up for the regular season with his Tweets. On Wednesday he revealed his plan to grab the rifle of the “minute man” and fire it like the guy does when the Pats score if he’s able to score in the opener. What’s wrong with that? Good, harmless gag. And I’m really impressed he called the guy a “minute man” and not a Patriot.  Good local knowledge. Don’t fire until you see the lights of the scoreboard.

Maybe he just doesn’t want to talk to me, but every time I’ve wandered over to his locker the last couple of weeks with the tape recorder out, he just shakes his head and says, “Got nothing to say, Hobs. The season hasn’t started yet.”

So, that’s another reason to hold a goodbye bash to five preseason games.

» As you guys know, I love Peter King, the sage of Sports Illustrated.  But I just don’t get why he’s so down on Carson Palmer.  OK, OK, he was throwing wilder than the Wild Card Game. A bad first half.  But with no tight ends, one wide receiver, and a new offensive line, he engineered seven last-drive points for the lead, the win, or a tie, to craft a division title.   Is that a guy on the downside of his career? I’ll keep saying it: If he did that on either Coast, there would be a statue of him in time for this season and, maybe, a Sports Illustrated cover in September to match Joey Votto.

» Here are three items showing that with 11 days before the opener, Bengaldom is in high gear:

The Cincinnati Rec Commission is bannering “Who Dey Sundays” at Neumann Golf Course with shotgun starts early enough to play 18 holes and get home by kickoff to watch the first six games. They are at 7:45 a.m. Sept 12, 19, and 26 and 8 a.m. Oct. 3, 10, 24.  Golfers have to call 513-574-1320 by 6 p.m. the Saturday before for tee times.  

Monty Montague, the maven of Bengals merchandising, sends along a note that says sales in the club’s Pro Shop  (“store, stadium, Internet”) is up more than 30 percent over last year. A large factor, he says, is the signing of Terrell Owens. Coming off Rey Maualuga’s wildly popular rookie season, Owens’ jersey sales have passed Maualuga’s by nearly 50 percent. Quite a feat, he says, because numbers for Maualuga’s No. 58 are some of the best the Pro Shop has ever seen. He also says the T.O. Factor has also helped with sales of The Ocho jerseys.  No. 85 sales are up five times over what they were last year. is also riding the T.O. factor as well an AFC North-winning roster that has been tweaked just enough to provide Who Deyers with a heavy whiff of potential back-to-back titles.

Cyberspace guru Andy Ware says the site “continues to far outpace last season’s record-setting numbers.”  August recorded the second-most total visits ever for a month (next to last December) with just over three million. Ware also said August had the site’s second-most unique visitors ever in a month (also next to last December) with more than 1.4 million. By comparison there were 2.5 million visits and 820,000 unique visitors in August of ’09.

Ware also says that Comscore reported earlier this month that the only NFL team site that had more unique visitors in July was The ‘Boys logged 868,000 to the Bengals’ 427,000 and the Steelers’ 384,000.

It shows the power and passion of Bengaldom, for which we are forever grateful. Not to mention the fascination with T.O., a Hall of Fame player that has crossed the Rubicon into popular culture.

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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “Thoughts on a bus”

  1. By phlockar on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    What’s the problem with keeping two QB’s? Knock on wood, and I mean a HUGE knock on wood, but if Palmer goes down and we have whatever backup in there, can’t we just pick up a backup to our backup off waivers at that point? Isn’t the QB on waivers just as good as the third stringer we would have had in the first place?

    I say that because I would like an extra spot for the WR battle. With letting Bryant go and if we kept two QBs, that would essentially open up 2 extra spots and we’d be able to keep Simpson, Cosby and Briscoe.

    I was wondering about Chad and the media. I know he has his own “media” now with twitter, but there hasn’t been any interviews and/or video interviews on and in the back of my mind I thought the success of TO was getting to him already. Good to hear he’s just saving it for the season.

  2. By whodey2010 on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    After reading this, an old Draft Day thought re-entered my head: With final cuts around the corner, and Briscoe, Hudson, Stevens and Muckleroy all possibly getting the axe, why didn’t we package a few of these picks to move back up in the 2nd Rnd for Taylor Mays? I remember telling anyone that would listen that the only glaring holes, after drafting Gresham, were WR and Safety. This was a stacked roster that probably only had 4 roster spots available and 9 draft picks…..So 5 draft picks would get cut. Knowing this, why not “over pay” with a few of those picks and get back up and get a guy that could be the final piece of the No.1 defense? I’d rather have 1 guy that will make an impact than take a chance on 5 guys that might not make the team. While I understand Fanene and T.J. were 7th Rnd picks, you can’t keep hoping you hit that jackpot…..Is Mays going to be a perrenial Pro-Bowler? I don’t know. But in this system, with Coach Zimmer, I think he would’ve flourished and added another BIG HITTER that would inspire the rest of the D to hit at least as hard as he does. Again, I know that it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and say you can do it better than the people that actually do. I just hope someone in the organization sees this and keeps an open mind for next years draft, when we’re picking at the end of the Round 1, if there’s a guy we need to move up and get, we do it. Because we can’t keep every guy we pick, why not make every pick a guy we can and will keep……

  3. By tide182 on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    i guess the whole “no way we spend $2million on a backup qb” thing with regard to leinart is just another thing we can tack on the list of things the bengals could have done with the $8million they flushed on bryant…

    no, but in all seriousness i wouldnt want to do that anyway, leinart is not good at all. still, jt o sullivan, and he went to my parents’ alma mater so im sure hes a nice guy, cannot – CAN NOT – be the team’s backup quarterback when the season starts. anyone who can look in the mirror and tell themselves with a straight face that this preseason has not been the most miserable display of quarterbacking (intercepted screen passes, intentional groundings, completely locking into their receivers, and worst of all i think from marvins perspective, completely losing cool towards the referees and teammates when theyre hardly doing their own thing well) on the part of jt and jordan palmer that i can ever remember seeing. i think id rather jordan be number 2 at this point, but as i mentioned to someone earlier, that’s like saying “i like the smell of dog feces more than horse feces.”

  4. By 2ndboot on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    Mercy..2 QBs? Then if both get injured who backs them up? Ocho? Do we beg Brat to beg his dad back to the NFL?
    The fact of the matter is that if Carson Palmer goes down the season’s over for us so we have to go with what we have now and hope it never happens. This never ending whining about JT and Jr is getting old.. Sure they’re not top flight QBs so you pin all your hopes on your number one and anyone else is just holding onto a mop. You don’t need a 10 million dollar janitor do you? Get real out there in lala land..

  5. By roscott on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    Hey, nice subtle opinion on what two WRs you’d like to see take the spots there, eh?

    Quan hasn’t played at all with the 2s,let alone the 1s and Simpson still appears lost out there. No wonder you find them so exciting! The only guy who looks like a vet out there is Briscoe. Ironic.

    My biggest problem is the only new WR who has gotten ANY time with Palmer is Jordan Shipley. I think the Bengals coaching has been inept in how they’ve handled the competition at WR. I empathize with the need to get T.O. and Carson on the same page, but Simpson, Cosby, Jones, and Briscoe should have gotten at least a handful of plays with the #1 team to see what we’ve got with them. JTO has been a deer in the headlights all preseason, and it’s impossible to gauge what we have with the backups limited time with him.

    The only thing worse than the WR battle is the kicking competition. Let’s try a few more 59 yarders to determine who should get the spot, eh?

  6. By golfergreg on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    I totally agree with you on Palmer. For me, one of the big knocks on Palmer even back in 2005 was I never really saw him strap the team on his back and led the team to victory late in the 4th quarter. It always seemed to be 3 and out when we needed it. But last year and even a little in the previous year, I think Palmer has finally come into his own and shows much more confidence at the end of a game. And with a full compliment of receivers, I’m looking forwards to this year, WhoDey

  7. By hobsonschoice1 on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    ROSCOTT: You’re trying to figure out who the fifth and sixth receivers are, not split the atom. From what I see, Palmer and his guys need all the time they can get to get their timing down. How many snaps are those fifth and sixth guys going to get in the long run?
    And one of them is going to be inactive.

    Where those bottom slots should be ultimately judged is special teams, which is why Cosby has to make it.

    You’re right, I don’t know anything about subtle. But I know it’s pretty clear Cosby needs to be on the team because what he can do in the kicking game and that’s not news to anybody.

    And I know after that it comes down to Simpson’s youth and athleticism. Purify’s hurt, Matt Jones looks to have trouble getting a head of steam (he’s 27) and if Briscoe looks like a veteran the coaches apparently have a difference of opinion because they’ve chained him to the fourth quarter.

    So I don’t know what the big deal is saying they’re the two most exciting of those five guys. I thought it was rather obvious.

    I agree with you on the 59-yarder just because Nugent was coming off a groin problem. That’s not exactly easing him back into it. You’re asking for trouble.

    But, look, the plan had been clearly to alternate kicks and that all went down the drain when Nugent got hurt. So except for rolling him out for the 59-yarder, I don’t know what else they could have done. You can’t just kick a field goal when ever you want in a game, which is why Darrin Simmons talks so much about the importance of practice. So we’ve only seen half the competition.

    No matter who is backing up Palmer _ Ryan Fitzpatrick or Matt Leinart or Sage Rosenfels at more than $2 million or Joe Hack for minimum _ it’s not going to really matter, is it? Maybe the only guy that would make a difference is Jon Kitna becaue he knows the system. And he’s going to be 38 in a few weeks and hasn’t played in two years.

    Yeah, I don’t think the issue is how many quarterbacks. It is, who are the three? A lot of people around here still remember Oct. 23, 1994, when they lost their top two quarterbacks on virtually the same series in Cleveland and had to turn to a No. 3 for the rest of the year. Keeping just two is living on the edge.

    But there is no question the backup deal has them worried. We’ll find out just how much Sunday.

    The failure has been to find a young guy, draft him, develop him and keep him in the system for at least four years and maybe longer. Going the veteran route every two years is expensive and a roll of the dice.

  8. By roscott on Sep 2, 2010 | Reply

    Thanks for the reply.

    In my humble opinion the last two WRs were a big reason why we were bounced out of the playoffs last year. While I agree with Gresham and Shipley we get more weapons, I get the uneasy feeling we could be faced with the same issues this year. The armchair QB in me wonders why aren’t we giving Simpson, Briscoe, and Jones a few reps with Carson and the #1s just to see what we have?

    I agree it makes no difference if Carson goes down who the backup QB is, but what if T.O. and Ocho need to miss a few games? They aren’t exactly spring chickens.

    I’m just a bit frustrated our WR corps appeared weak last year, and it seems the answer to fixing that is to keep most of them on the roster. I’m not saying Jones or Briscoe are better options, I’d just like to see them on field with Carson to know if they are. You have to admit our backup QB play hasn’t given any of our bubble WRs a good opportunity to showcase their stuff.

    Regarding the kicker, you can get into FG range and take some shots down the field to both get some WR exposure, some QB time, and allow more FG attempts. Our weakness with the 2s and 3s appears to be pass blocking. I’m just surprised we spent so much time running the rock and throwing outlet passes when they aren’t allowing much competition where it’s needed most.

  9. By theredbengal on Sep 3, 2010 | Reply

    Hobs, you seem to be on a roll. Jerome Simpson, who you said was probably going to make the team, showed why last night. I’ll eat my words regarding Matt Jones. Also, you wrote a nice piece on Nugent, and what happens? The guy solidifies his spot on this team by nailing FGs from 52 and 34.

    I got a feeling they would rather keep the 3 QBs, but it probably won’t happen. After last night, and the all important nepotism factor, Jordan Palmer probably gets the nod. And honestly, he throws a good ball when he’s got time in the pocket.

  10. By humpty20 on Sep 3, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Hobbs, any chance we reunite with Houshmazilly anytime soon? I know we wouldnt trade for him but if there is a release, could we see Chad,T.O with him in the slot???? I think Shipley is great, but wouldnt he benefit with those 3.

  11. By hobsonschoice1 on Sep 3, 2010 | Reply

    RED: You’re never on a roll in this business. It’s more like a bagel. We’ll see what today brings. Yes, I’m glad Nugent didn’t fall to the Leon jinx.

    There’s no question Jordan is a good fit here for a lot of reasons, but he’s exactly what you want in a No. 3 QB no matter if his big brother worked at P&G. He’s bright, committed, easy to be around, likes to keep it loose and like you said, if he gets some time he can make some throws. What surprised them was Saturday night in Buffalo on the pick that got returned. It was a bad decision and he usually doesn’t do that.

    HUMPTY: As much as I would love it, I just don’t see Housh coming back, even at minimum. I think they think they’ve got a young-up-and-coming Housh in Shipley and to make room for him they’d have to get rid of another young guy they kind of like.

    They already have to lose one of them to get to the 53 even without him. Believe me, I love Housh and I think he can help a club that needs receivers because of injury. I also know he turns 33 the day the Bengals go to Carolina for their third game and that T.O. turns 37 two days after they play the Saints here in Game 12,and that The Ocho turns 33 himself the week after the regular season ends in Baltimore.

  12. By brobinette64 on Sep 3, 2010 | Reply

    As far as keeping only 2 QBs there is always Matt Jones that could be used in an emergency. Just give him a few snaps in practice every now and then to get him fresh.

  13. By hobsonschoice1 on Sep 3, 2010 | Reply

    You could do that, I think, if you knew for sure he would dress and be the fifth receiver. But you don’t even know if he’s going to make the team.

  14. By hobsonschoice1 on Sep 3, 2010 | Reply

    BEFORE I FORGET: The post about trading up to get USC safety Taylor Mays with picks that eventually turned out to be bubble guys like fourth-rounder Roddrick Muckelroy and fifth-rounder Otis Hudson.

    From looking at the value chart on draft trades as well as what other teams wanted, I don’t think it involved trading a fifth-rounder. It looks like it was either a second and fourth, or a third and fourth, for a guy that would have ended up this season backing up Roy Williams and Chris Crocker at safety.

    If you did the trade, that meant you wouldn’t have second-rounder Carlos Dunlap and fourth-rounder Geno Atkins. Or maybe no Atkins and third-rounder Jordan Shipley.

    You’d have to say that Shipley and Atkins are two of their most impressive picks from this class and although Dunlap hasn’t done much, he’s long, lean and shown to be pretty athletic.

    Plus, you can’t trade compensatory picks, which is what Muckelory and third-rounder Brandon Ghee were. You would have had to have traded the Shipley and Atkins picks.

    Meanwhile, Mays is playing to mixed reviews in Frisco while Atkins and Shipley look like they’re going to contribute right away.

    So right now it looks like an example of sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make. Now, if Mays becomes Troy Polamalu, you could have fun with it, and maybe he will.

    But it looks like Shipley and Atkins are going to be around for awhile and if they think Dunlap can help them rushing from the inside, the 2010 draft could be remembered for their two third-down guys in the middle.

    You have to wait and call it, but the guys they drafted instead of Mays are going to make it.

  15. By bigdad616 on Sep 3, 2010 | Reply

    Best wishes to Marvin and the coaches on what must be their worst day of the year. A great camp, I’m sure they would like to keep at least 60 of these guys rather than 53. For those guys who don’t make it, I hope you catch on somewhere else quick and continue to pursue your dream. Following the development of this Bengals team has been great – I hope the rest of the season is as exciting!

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