A few afterthoughts from a Hurricane Hangover in Carolina:
» You have to like the moxie with Marvin “Bill Parcells” Lewis going for it on fourth-and-two and fourth-and-one and trying a 50-yard field goal on a sponge with a scant three-point lead and just 14:53 left. Who didn’t think he was nuts for sloshing out the kicker that point? The only way Jimmy Clausen beats you is on a short field. But Mike Nugent took Lewis off the hook.
(Imagine where a wide right would have left Lewis on the heels of the late spike to end the first half.)
On further review, special teams coach Darrin Simmons put on quite a show on that fourth-and-two from his own 40 in the second quarter. Punter Kevin Huber was actually on the field. I failed to see him on the field during the game, but then I wasn’t looking for him at left tackle, either. With the real tackles on the right side, running back Brian Leonard knew where to take that direct snap wide to convert.
Good for Simmons on the field where he broke in as an NFL assistant special teams coach 11 years ago. His guys won the game. They can say the conditions were lousy for offense with the field and ball so wet. But punt returner Quan Cosby looked like he was playing in a dome with a flawless day fielding five with no fair catches. Throw in two Nugent FGs and five Huber punts inside the 20, and it looked like the two local guys grew up on the Kings Island water rides.
» Not a great field for offense, but on any surface it shows that this team will only go as far as the offensive line takes it. They not only have to protect the quarterback, which was shaky at times against a Panthers pass rush that had done nothing in the first two games, but they at least have to play as well as they did last year and it hasn’t happened yet.
Center Kyle Cook has made more mistakes with the snap count than he made all last season and right tackle Dennis Roland is struggling on pass pro. Cook was so solid last year that he’ll really give them a lift with a return to form. It looks they either have to develop Andre Smith more or give Roland more help on the edge. Roland is a smart guy, football savvy, the best technician on the line. But sometimes that kind of guy needs help in a league stocked with athletes.
And will we see Anthony Collins and Evan Mathis? Last we knew, Collins, a fourth-round pick, played fairly well at left tackle as a rookie in 2008 before they switched him to right tackle last year. Mathis rotated quarters with Nate Livings at left guard for much of last season. But neither have played as much this season as they did last season.
» Exhibit A why the line is the key: Quarterback Carson Palmer had a chance to pop the big play everyone has sought and he had wide receiver Terrell Owens running past the linebackers wide open. But it looked like Cook, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and running back Bernard Scott couldn’t fend their guys off long enough and Palmer got hit and the ball ended up short for an interception.
Not even sure the first interception was Palmer’s fault, too. It looked like The Ocho was getting used to the field as he splashed his way to what looked like an in route. But he looked tentative on the slippery field and stopped before cutting in. When he didn’t extend his arms in front of the DB, it made you think he didn’t have traction.
But, yes, there were some other Palmer throws that were ill-advised and should have been picked. He was about as inaccurate as he’s ever been in the NFL, which means it’s a little bit of everything. Weather, protection, himself.
» Did anybody else think it curious that Lewis said after the game he wanted to play a field position game and the first three plays were passes?
But offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski steered it back on course with the smashmouth 16-play drive in the second quarter and running back Cedric Benson’s nine-carry third quarter to get nearly a full quarter edge in time of possession. And it really opened up play-action, didn’t it on the last two passes of the game that meant something? Both were off run fakes and they were the widest receivers were open all day.
» How good and deep are the Bengals DBs? They lose starting cornerback Johnathan Joseph in the last four minutes of the win against Baltimore, and they don’t miss a beat with safety Chris Crocker moving to corner. Third corner Adam Jones missed the Carolina win and they are successful on nine of 11 third-down tries with Morgan Trent coming off the bench to reprise his third corner role from last season.
Tags: afterthoughts of carolina win
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