Leftovers from the ride back from Indy.
Cold leftovers. A lot of paper cups half full and half empty.
HALF FULL: This is the way we had the defense figured at the beginning of the year. Stingy in the red zone, give up nothing on the ground, and go toe-to-toe with a Pro Bowl quarterback.
HALF-EMPTY: Now we know what it’s like if Peyton Manning plays in one of those preseason games since he was missing three of his top five receivers and his running back.
REALITY: Any time you hold down Manning like that at home, whether he’s playing with just backup guys or not, it’s an accomplishment.
HALF FULL: The Bengals offensive line gets kudos for protecting Carson Palmer so well in the passing game. And it is a big accomplishment to keep Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis at bay at their place and down 17-0. Rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham has impressed with his blocking as much as his receiving and he was one of the guys chipping and helping out the tackles.
HALF EMPTY: How can the Bengals rush for 30 yards on 19 conventional runs against the NFL’s No. 29 rush defense that didn’t have a starting linebacker in a regular spot? How can they get no yards on runs by Cedric Benson on second-and-one and third-and-one? And one of them was with three tackles in the game. The game plan had been to run the ball and drain the clock, but they could never do it.
Note the snap before Palmer threw his first interception, a pick-six that put the Bengals down, 10-0. Again it was a play where right tackle Dennis Roland reported as eligible as a tight end. But Benson could only get one yard on the right edge to set up a second-and-nine and putting them off schedule.
HALF FULL: Maybe Palmer shouldn’t have even played, but it shows you the size of his guts. He gets a shot in the shoulder, completes 74 percent of his passes for 292 yards, and made some spectacular plays. That’s a franchise quarterback.
HALF EMPTY: From Nov. 25, 2007 to Oct. 10, 2010, he went 30 games without three picks. Now he’s had two in 35 days. It’s not just him, but he’s made some uncharacteristic bad decisions as of late. On Sunday, the rookie Jordan Shipley appeared to make the mistake on the pick-six. Terrell Owens has taken the blame on the last one. The overthrow to a wide open Chad Ochocinco came because he had to get rid of it. But on the pick to Gresham early in the fourth quarter, it looked like he left the pocket early.
But Palmer is right about one thing: He’s the ultimate source for blame. The way it’s going with his timing with the receivers, it looks like he can’t be as fine and has to back off the tight windows.
TELLTALE STAT OF SEASON: The Bengals have really struggled on third-and-short. After converting two of four third downs of two yards or less Sunday, the Bengals are 15-for-35 on that down and distance this season. They have run it 13 times (converting seven) and passed it 19 times (completing eight). There have been two sacks and a scramble on three other pass plays.
TOPIC OF THE THIS WEEK: The Carson-Fitzy Bowl is 1 p.m. Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium with Palmer facing Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, his backup in 2007 and 2008 and the man who started 12 games in his place in ’08. This year, Fitzpatrick, the seventh-rounder who became the first Harvard quarterback to throw an NFL pass, has slightly better numbers than Palmer and his Heisman Trophy with an 85.5 rating (14 TDs, seven picks) compared to Palmer’s 83 on 16 TDs and 11 picks. In ’08 he had a 70 rating (8 TDs and nine picks). His yards per throw that year was 5.1 compared to this year’s 6.6.
And Fitzpatrick has been out of this world on third down with the NFL’s second-best rating on that down at a 110 with another seventh-round pick, Kentucky’s Steve Johnson, second in the AFC in third-down catches. Shipley is tied for third, but Palmer is 27th on third down at below 60.
T.O. TAKE: Did Owens give up on the ball over the middle that was Palmer’s third pick? I don’t think so. He admited he screwed up the route. But anybody who took on Troy Polamalu like he did against the Steelers for that 20-yard catch that put the ball in the red zone Monday night with 61 seconds left has nothing to prove to me. From now on the only way I’ll be convinced he gives up on a ball is if he waves a white hanky. The one thing you’ve been able to count on is his competitiveness.
Tags: Indy leftovers
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 18 Comments »