Bengals and another untried QB

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on September 20, 2010 – 2:31 pm

A few thoughts while fast-forwarding and rewinding through the first half of the Bengals’ 15-10 win over Baltimore.

With Panthers head coach John Fox giving rookie Jimmy Clausen his first NFL start against the Bengals this Sunday in Carolina, the Bengals can only hope he falls into the Brady Quinn-Ken Dorsey-Tyler Thigpen category when it comes to little-used quarterbacks. And not the Bruce Gradkowski-Shaun-Hill-Billy Volek disasters.

And Gradkowski has got them twice for nearly half of his five NFL wins.

If you thought Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer got more aggressive this Sunday against the Ravens, just wait. Zimmer is still fuming he didn’t blitz Gradkowski in the last two minutes in Oakland last year. Specifically that fourth-and-12.

Of course, any game isn’t a cupcake the way the Bengals are playing offense right now, and the Panthers have been known to run and play defense, a dangerous combo for a visiting team. Ask a team with even a playoff-tested quarterback like Joe Flacco.

Clausen has come off the bench in each game and is 7-for-15 for 59 yards, one TD and a pick.

Via, former NFL VP of officiating Mike Pereira, now with FOX, agrees with the Ravens that the roughing call on Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer was ticky-tack.

“He’s got his head low, he’s wrapped and now he’s making a normal tackle,” Pereria said to USA Today.

The Ravens went nuts on the call, particularly middle linebacker Ray Lewis and head coach John Harbaugh and Harbaugh will no doubt hear from the league about what looked to be some kind of physical confrontation.

Lewis griped that the refs put six points on the board for the Bengals because of the roughing call and the Lewis call for tripping Palmer. Lewis claims Palmer simply got his feet tangled with him.

Then it all evened out because the refs cost the Bengals seven points when they didn’t throw a flag on wide receiver Terrell Owens getting absolutely mauled in the end zone. He virtually had his arms pinned, and so, apparently, were the flags.

Speaking of Lewis, running back Cedric Benson’s move on him in the first quarter Sunday won’t make SportsCenter, but it’s a beautiful example of what patience can do for a back. On a third-and-one stretch play to his left, Benson found himself one-on-one with Lewis on the perimeter. They stared each other down like it was the OK Corral until Benson stuttered for an instant, caught Lewis leaning, and then lowered his shoulder to blast by him for five yards.

“I wanted to get him to stop his feet,” Benson said.

Posted in Hobson's Choice | 16 Comments »

16 Responses to “Bengals and another untried QB”

  1. By ssbfc on Sep 20, 2010 | Reply

    While Ray Lewis was whining about the tripping call, he took off his helmet to argue with the refs. No penalty, no ejection, just special rules for Lewis. Sometimes he has to realize that he’s wrong.

  2. By phlockar on Sep 20, 2010 | Reply

    That’s pretty disturbing that 2 of Gradkowski’s 5 wins have come from beating us, and we’re not even in the same division. Oh well.

    Every week there is a complaint and or debate about the roughing the passer rule. This time it’s a little blown out of proportion because Ray Lewis is the one doing the complaining.

    I love when our RB’s make a good move on Lewis. Like Sunday, it’s happened before and there isn’t too much sweeter than that, except the win. I remember when Rudy Johnson got stood up by Ray basically on the goal line one year and Rudy dug a little deeper and pushed him through into the endzone. I would imagine those little moves mean a lot more to both players than it shows.

    Obviously nothing is gauranteed in the NFL but here’s to hoping we roll into the bye with a 4-1 record. I’ll take that every year.

  3. By rdavisptl on Sep 20, 2010 | Reply

    The refs had a bad game, but it’s surprising how many they get right given the speed of the game. At the end of the day, the correct call is the call the ref’s make, and their mistakes tend to balance out over the season. Although Lewis had a legitimate right to whine, it’s a moot point.

  4. By jwalker3853 on Sep 20, 2010 | Reply

    Maybe, just maybe, the 4 interceptions had something to do with it. It’s hard enough to win without turnovers – let alone 4. Maybe the Ravens passing attach isn’t what the hype contends….

  5. By hobsonschoice1 on Sep 20, 2010 | Reply

    JWALK: I agree with you. The minute they started pumping the Ravens as AFC North faves back in the spring, something wasn’t right. This is a tough day to say it, but it was a prime example of underestimating Carson Palmer.

    Flacco is a nice quarterback, but if he didn’t have that defense and running game, well, he wouldn’t be Gradkowski, but he wouldn’t have an 84 career passer rating, either. Which,by the way, had to take quite a pummeling with Sunday’s JaMarcus Russell-like 23.8.

    Not a great day to say it, but I just don’t think Flacco is in Palmer’s class when it comes to tight throws, game management, and presence in the pocket.

    And the only thing Palmer had of those Sunday was management. Don’t underestimate zip picks against Baltimore, but his footwork didn’t look right. When he missed Terrell Owens short on that out route to the sidelines on second and one on the second series, well, you just never see that. That’s his bread-and-butter.

    How much he’s getting used to Owens and the rookies Shipley and Gresham is a significant factor in the discussion. Not a lot of rookies excel in an NFL passing game because of the jump, but they’ll be better in November. Still, Palmer has made that out throw to everyone from Housh to Glenn Holt to Laveranues Coles.

    I do agree with Marvin, though. Getting out of a game with no major screwup agaist the Ravens defense is huge. It might not be a 300-yard game or a 101.7 passer rating. But it’s worth a lot more than that.

    An AFC North win when you’re 0-1?


    Something else about the Ravens offense. I love the track record, hands, and toughness of their three wide receivers. But other than the occasional Derrick Mason double move, who is going to get separation?

    It shows two things.

    How rare are Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens to make plays down the field at their ages? The Ocho still can get away from you and Owens can still YAC with the best of them. He also showed Sunday he can still get beind people on routes.

    It also shows how good the Bengals cornerbacks are. For all the craft and secrets in their backpack of nearly 2,000 catches, the Ravens trio barely got a sniff. And they’ll hurt some good teams in the passing game.

  6. By blester01 on Sep 20, 2010 | Reply


    At some point Bratkowski has to become accountable for the poor performance of his offensive unit. It is not his fault that Palmer missed on several key throws that could have turned this game into a blow out. However, the pass routes, blocking schemes, discipline of the unit, and the tempo of the game is his responsibility.

    I have three issues with Brats performance and I would appreciate your feedback:
    1. For most of the game, it looked as if the offense had taken a depressant, taking their time to get to the LOS after breaking the huddle. There never seemed to be a sense of purpose or urgency in the play calling or in the players. It always seemed like they had a “maybe next series” attitude.

    2. There never seems to be any consistency in his play calling. One minute we are pounding the ball with Benson and beautifully mixing it up with the pass. The next minute we are in an unbalanced formation running plays that get us no where since the defense knows exactly what we are going to do. There are never any play action plays that take advantage of the successful running plays, there are no double move routes taking advantage of the successful timing routes, and there are no TE seam routes that take advantage of the secondary focusing on the WR’s. It just all seems like it is just happenstance or organized disjointedness if we get results.

    3. Running toward Greshahm in key “need a first down to keep the chains moving” situations. We know he isn’t a developed blocker yet, the opposing defense knows it, and Brat knows it as well, but he still continues to give it a shot. It has backfired on us almost 90% of the time so far in these first two games, forcing us to either punt or settle for three.

    As you wrote, a win in the AFC North is a win. But this was a very ugly win where it did not need to be. This game could have easily been out of reach for the Ravens by mid forth quarter, and I have to put the majority of that blame on Bratkowski.

  7. By mwindle1973 on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    You know I think it’s just going to take some time for the pass game to come together. Owens is going to end up being the guy you can come out and go to early to get the pass game established. But the CBS analysts did a good job of pointing out what some of the issues are.

    TO does not come out of his breaks like most WRs. On the out routes when he plants and turns he just coasts to the outside. He’s too big to get that big push off on the first step like Ocho does. Instead he uses his big body to position himself between the CB and the throw. Creates seperation a lot like a TE on short routes. Think of Shannon Sharpe ex TE for the Super Bowl Broncos and Super Bowl Ravens. He was about the same size as TO. Maybe 5 lbs heavier. Very similar players. TO is much faster. But Palmer has to learn to compensate for it on TOs outs, posts, and combacks. An of course TO has to clean up his route options some he’s still not in the right place all the time.

    But if TO & Palmer get on the same page, and Gresham & SHipley keep their growth up, we should see a passing game that rivals or surpasses the 05 passing game. The only thing that will be hard is that the Oline can’t compare to the 05 Oline. Whit, WIlliams are doing well. Smith played pretty good against the Ravens and is starting to shore up his side. But Cook continues to get man handled by 3-4 NTs, and Livings is having a hard time too. Cook once snapped the ball too early and once too late in Sunday’s game. IDK about him right now, he’s had a shaky start.

    I know everyone says we need to draft a WR in the 1st round next year. But really we need to pick up a couple interior lineman in first 3-4 rounds next year

  8. By 2ndboot on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    I’m VERY happy to eat crow on last weeks criticism of Zimmer.. Well done guys and thanks for the crow dinner!
    As for offense.. I’ve read how HORRIBLE they are and how HORRIBLE Brat is calling things and how HORRIBLE Carson’s playing, but the plain truth is the Ravens D outplayed them as our D outplayed Fake_O.
    We’re just not going to blow out great defenses every week no matter what anyone thinks.
    The HUGE difference this week was the turnovers and Mr Nugent and his happy foot.
    If I EVER whine about a win in our own division I hope someone just shoots me. To bad the others don’t see that, but hey.. Maybe when they get old too they will as well, but I’m not holding my breath on that.
    I said on the boards if they lost 100-99 they would complain we didn’t get 101. What can ya do?

  9. By coachwine on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    Claussen guaranteed four national championships for Notre Dame when he went there. Has he put the Panthers in the Super Bowl yet? The Bengals are indeed very poor at dealing with new quarterbacks. Hopefully there is enough film to put together a game plan that will get him on his back enough with the wind knocked out of him so he can’t open his big mouth.

  10. By overthroensamoan on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    I agree with your comments about Palmer being a good game manager. But something is just not right with CP. I can’t put my finger on it but something is missing. He missed several throws that he normally would eat up. He missed badly on 2 TDs which neither appeared to be very difficult throws. The first one was a bad over throw of TO running open in the endzone then the misfire with 85 on the backline. I’ve seen him make that exact throw under much more pressure many times before.Those 2 plays and this game is not close. Arm strength is there, he’s got more than enough weapons but something is amiss. Maybe he’s just comfortable yet with whats around him.

  11. By theredbengal on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    I’ve never seen so much complaining about a divisional win. I’ll let you guys in on a secret: IT’S WEEK 2!!

    This team is not going to be perfect. They have a guy in TO who has been in this organization for less than 2 months, and two rookies (Gresham and Shipley) who are heavily involved in the offense. It will take time for them to start clicking on all cylinders. Last year it wasn’t until the Bears game in week 7 that the offense fully came together. Then Henry broke his arm the next week against Baltimore and the rest is history.

    Give them a break. They beat a lot of pundits’ superbowl favorite Ravens, and at their own game. The offense gets to practice on a Rookie QB-led Panthers squad, the rebuilding Browns, and the young QB/rebuilding Bucaneers at PBS.

    If the offense is still struggling after that stretch, then start hitting the panic button.

  12. By bengalmaniac on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    Jimmy Clausen was a very proficient passer at ND. Make no mistake about it, when you score 42 points and lose because of your defense, you are not a slouch at QB. This is a different speed though and their offense is not quite humming.
    I am curious why the no huddle disappeared this week. It seems that Brat doesn’t wanna use it unless we are way behind. So far, that has been when our offense has been best and run the most efficiently. I watched Indy do it Monday night even when they were way ahead. We get up by 3 points and our offense looks like we’re just running out the clock. It looks like it is taking forever to get the plays in (hence the delay of game penalties) and then when we line up the defense knows exactly what we are doing. Let Carson run the sugar huddle, no huddle, whatever, and put some points on the board. It is ok to win by 30 points, we don’t have to take the other team’s feelings into account.

  13. By blester01 on Sep 21, 2010 | Reply

    You are correct, but you have to look at it from Palmer’s perspective. From 2006 to 2008, every time he would drop back he would be hit within a few seconds since the OL was so porous due to injuries, age, and/or incompetence (Ghiaciuc). He was constantly hurrying and forcing throws to WR’s for three seasons which led him to pick up some bad techniques and screwed with his head. He has obviously worked out the mechanics and footwork issues, and now he just needs to cool down the ticking clock/ hypersensitive spider sense in his head that tells him someone is going to come and break his leg. Once he can work this out, I think he will be back to his normal self.

  14. By aswad60 on Sep 22, 2010 | Reply

    Mr. Hobson,

    I just read your article, “Eye of Beholder.” Very powerful. The human interest, profile pieces you do are always well-written and creatively approached, but this one was extremely moving. Powerful stuff. I’m a professional writer by trade, and see so little really good and moving work out there. But I visit religiously, first because I’m a life-long Bengals fans, and second because your writing is excellent and deserving of any awards that come your way. Kudos.

  15. By turbotim1964 on Sep 23, 2010 | Reply

    hey we beat them fair and square but i worry about going to carolina

  16. By hobsonschoice1 on Sep 23, 2010 | Reply

    ASWAD60: Thank you for your kind words. As a writer, you know the best stories are the ones you don’t write. You just stay the hell out of the way and let the people that matter tell it. Sean is obviously a special guy with great parents.

    WIND: Except for ’08, when Palmer missed 12 games, the offense has been a mystery since it folded down the stretch in ’06. They needed to win one of the last three games to make the playoffs and they could only come up with six TDs.

    And it’s been that way pretty much ever since despite having a guy that everyone in the league pretty much agrees is a franchise QB.

    I can understand why the passing game struggled last year, but to be so punchless against teams like Detroit and Kansas City and to play so well on the road against San Diego, yeah, it’s hard to put a finger on.

    The cascade of weekly penalties is tough to watch, but as you saw Brat seems intent on taking care of that by cutting back on some things.

    Maybe that’s the answer. But I do agree. They seem so much more comfortable in no-huddle. They seem to respond to the simplicity and Palmer’s decisions.

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