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Bengals won’t miss Stover

Posted by bengalsweb on May 25, 2011 – 1:31 pm

Word out of Baltimore via ProFootballTalk.com is that kicker Matt Stover is retiring as a Raven. Or, as he’s known around these parts, the kicker on the all-time Bengalskiller team. Stover is the fourth-leading scorer in NFL history and it seems like he kicked all of them against Cincinnati during his 18 seasons with the old Browns and new Ravens.

It will be recalled that Stover’s first winning kick came in the third game of his first season, all the way back to 1991 and the last season of head coach Sam Wyche’s run with the Bengals and Bill Belichick’s first as an NFL head coach. It was Stover’s 45-yard kick at the gun in old Municipal Stadium that allowed Belichick’s Browns to beat Wyche’s Bengals, 14-13, moments after Jim Breech’s 36-yard field had given the Bengals the lead.

How long ago was that? Boomer Esiason was the Bengals quarterback and Bernie Kosar was the Browns quarterback in the first Bengals-Browns game since the death of Paul Brown, founder of both clubs.

And Stover didn’t miss many against the Bengals in the next two decades. In 36 games against Cincinnati, Stover made 88 percent of his field goals (66 of 75) and all 88 extra points.

But it was that first one that dropped the Bengals to 0-3 and ignited Wyche’s now infamous postgame warning not to panic: “There’s golf to be played and tennis to be served up.”

Now Stover can do both and the Bengals have to be thankful.


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Anderson’s Canton Express

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 19, 2011 – 5:24 pm

The Canton Express is loading up for Ken Anderson’s bid for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Two links this week on media giant ProFootballTalk.com, an endorsement from noted quarterback quartermaster Sam Wyche, and another eye-catching historical chart have added buzz to the movement. If 50 is the new 30, then Anderson is finding out 62 is the new 42, which is the age he first became Hall eligible. Now in his 26th season of retirement, he’s in his first year on the senior ballot that goes to the nine members of the Hall’s senior committee in June.

Anderson figures to be one of 15 finalists to be discussed in Canton in August. Five senior committee members, in consultation with two current Hall of Famers, decide on two candidates that will be among the 17 finalists for the 2012 vote the day before the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. Rick Gosselin of The Dallas Morning News, an influential senior committee member, has indicated he believes Anderson deserves to be discussed in that final meeting one of these years.

The drumbeat that Anderson’s teammates have begun with the aid of Cincinnati realtor David Kubicki is starting to get some legs. The ProFootballReference.com career approximate value leaders chart that Kubicki dug up has Anderson as the only Hall-eligible player in the top 50 all-time not in Canton.

“The fact the chart has Chuck Bednarik as the greatest Eagle and Anthony Muñoz as the greatest Bengal shows to me that it’s legit,” says Kerry Byrne, another noted numbers-cruncher that writes for coldhardfootballfacts.com. “The fact that it values a center-linebacker like Bednarik and a left tackle like Muñoz shows that it’s taking in the important aspects of the game.”

Muñoz is ranked 17th, a spot ahead of quarterback Steve Young and a spot behind Derrick Brooks and John Elway on a list that attempts to bridge the eras of the game. Anderson, who has a higher career passer rating than Elway and a higher postseason completion percentage than Young, is logged in at No. 39 with Gino Marchetti, Randy White and Bruce Matthews. Which is ahead of Warren Moon (T44) and Tom Brady (T52).

But then with Byrne, you’re preaching to the choir. He finished his three-part series on the injustice of Anderson not being in the Hall this week and one of his stories focused on his role as a pioneer in taking Bill Walsh’s West Coast offense from the blackboard of the ’70s to a 21st century staple.

“There’s no question that Kenny Anderson withstood the test of time in that offense and played as well in it as anybody and passed it on,” former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche said Thursday. “He was not just a good player, he was a great player, and he belongs in the Hall of Fame like a Joe Montana.”

Wyche coached them both and was Walsh’s quarterbacks coach that first year in San Francisco in 1979, when he urged Walsh to draft Montana. Walsh, Paul Brown’s quarterbacks coach, brought his Anderson Bengals tapes to the Bay Area to help install an offense that would take Montana and Walsh to the Hall of Fame.

“Bill was not only teaching the quarterbacks with the training tape, but he was teaching the offense,” Wyche said. “You want to teach using good plays. And Kenny made a lot of good plays.”

Wyche remembers Anderson being particularly adept with the quick five-step drop, meshing quickness with the ability to turn his body and throw with what Wyche called efficient mechanics.

“Kenny just had a real good feel for that,” Wyche said.

Wyche had been Anderson’s head coach for three seasons when he retired after the 1986 season. He was his teammate for not quite as long. About a week before the 1971 draft, Wyche, the Bengals backup quarterback, and wife Jane were invited to dinner by Walsh and his wife. During the conversation, Walsh told Wyche not to jump to conclusions but that the Bengals planned to draft a quarterback named Anderson they felt would drop into the third or fourth round because he was from a small college in Illinois.

They did and shortly after the minicamp, Wyche was traded to the Redskins.

“You only had to see him practice for a few minutes to know he was going to be good,” Wyche said. “You never how good, but you could see he was going to be a good NFL quarterback.”

Good enough that he’s got people climbing aboard his Canton Express.


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Ocho, bull have brief fling

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 14, 2011 – 11:34 pm

In the time it takes The Ocho to get off the line of scrimmage, the bull named Deja Blu tossed off Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco in 1.5 seconds Saturday night at the Lucas Oil Invitational in Duluth, Ga. The Professional Bull Riders offered him money, a truck and renaming of the bull if he could last for eight seconds. But instead he took his toughest hit from a Bronco since Denver cornerback Champ Bailey kept him out of the end zone in the ’09 opener.

A video showed The Ocho getting tossed right out of the gate while wearing a helmet and a facemask, then he barely avoided the bull’s feet before scrambling through the fence “flashing a big smile as he looked down.”

According to the NFL Web site, The Ocho told the riders’ Web site, “Two seconds, one second, four — whatever it is. This will be something that I’ll be able to tell my kids, my kids’ kids and so on,” Ochocinco said. “Everybody can’t say that ‘I rode a bull.’ I don’t think people understand. To me, that’s awesome.”

The incomplete throw capped a worrisome day, according to The Ocho’s tweets, one of which read earlier Saturday, “I close my eyes I’m still shaking from today’s unfamiliar atmosphere of PBR. Sound of steel gates,bull,mounting,1 nod,gates open #GodBeWithMe.”

He did win over the riders and the founder of PBR, Ty Murray, who tweeted “I’m proud of Ochocinco for looking fear in the eye and having the courage to ride anyway. Been an honor. #HugeRespect.”

The Ocho is now 1-4 against Broncos.

The event appeared on The Versus channel, where wearing a New York Mets hat he said in a pre-ride interview that he realized how dangerous of a sport bull riding is.

“But if it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go,” The Ocho said before his class with Murray, a nine-time champion. “It’s something I can tell my kids.”

Before Saturday The Ocho had been unbeaten in individual matchups against beasts. On June 9, 2007 at River Downs in Cincinnati he beat Restore The Roar by 12 lengths in a horse race he donated all proceeds to Feed The Children. Reports said he would donate $10,000 from Saturday to Feed The Children.

The Associated Press reported via ProFootballTalk.com that The Ocho said “one and done” when it was over. Versus is showing the replay Sunday at 11 p.m.


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Start or no start?

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 6, 2011 – 12:57 pm

It sounds more and more like the Bengals aren’t batting an eye about making Andy Dalton a rookie Opening Day quarterback. Which goes to show you when it comes to quarterbacks, like Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said after they picked him, they are in the eye of the beholder.

The indication is that one of the reasons the Bengals picked Dalton last week is because they felt he was closer to NFL ready than the other guys they were considering. Now the Seahawks are admitting they considered him at No. 25 in the first round before opting for Alabama’s James Carpenter, a guy they think can help them right away.

Via ProFootballTalk.com Seahawks general manager John Schneider told 710 ESPN radio, “I think we all felt like we were at a point in our development where we couldn’t pass on a starting tackle right now. Quite honestly, we’d like to have a (QB), especially a rookie, be more of a developmental type and a guy more like Aaron Rodgers and sit for a year or two. So that was really the only point in the draft where there was a guy where we were like, ‘There he is, that’s a very viable option.’ ”

The question facing the Bengals is what kind of caliber free agent can they get with a quarterback of the future already in place? And, this isn’t exactly the same scenario when Carson Palmer was drafted in 2003 and they developed him for a year behind Jon Kitna.

Kitna had already started 33 games in offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski’s system. This time, the veteran and the rookie would be learning the same system at the same time. That levels the playing field for Dalton (it already sounds like Gruden had a Dalton-type guy in mind) and if he plays now, that means he’ll be getting the growing pains out of the way earlier than Palmer did, when they put up an 8-8 the first year he played.

That said, if it is a shortened training camp, the veteran could be a nice bridge in what could be a very weird first month of the season.


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Five takes

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 2, 2011 – 7:16 pm

Five takes from NFL Draft weekend:

GOOD OPENING KARMA: Here’s some good vibes for second-round pick Andy Dalton, quarterback, and first-round pick A.J. Green, wide receiver. In the only Opening Day game ever started by a Bengals rookie quarterback, Greg Cook engineered a 27-14 win over Miami at Nippert Stadium on Sept. 14, 1969. Cook outdueled Bob Griese’s 327-yard day when two of his 11 completions went for 69- and 25-yard touchdown passes to wide receiver Eric Crabtree, also making his Bengals debut. Crabtree had played the previous three seasons for the Broncos, but you get the idea.

The opener is in Cleveland, scene of the last road win by a Bengals rookie QB when Akili Smith beat the Browns on a last second two-pointer to Carl Pickens in 1999 in his first NFL start.

BEST NON-DRAFT NEWS: The one day Bengals kicker Mike Nugent was able to come into the facility last week, he was able to kick a football and make all of his handful of field-goal tries. And that’s just five months after undergoing reconstructive surgery on his kicking knee.

TEA LEAVES: Trying to read the tea leaves on Chad Ochocinco, although the rhetoric from both The Ocho and head coach Marvin Lewis seems to make it pretty clear cut. But when the Bengals take two wide receivers in the same draft (Green and Stanford’s Ryan Whalen in the sixth round), it usually means at least one major move.

» In 2010, the Bengals drafted Jordan Shipley (3) and Dez Briscoe (6) after they let loose Laveranues Coles, second in yards in ’09.
» In 2008, the Bengals drafted Jerome Simpson (2) and Andre Caldwell (3) before ’08 leading receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh left in free agency.
» We won’t count 2006 with Reggie McNeal and Bennie Brazell. McNeal was a college quarterback and Brazell was an Olympic sprinter.
» In 2005, they took Chris Henry (3) and Tab Perry (6), and 2004 turned out to be the last year for former No. 1 pick Peter Warrick.
» In 2001 they drafted The Ocho (2) and Houshmandzadeh (7) and their second-leading wide receiver, Craig Yeast, was gone for the next season.

So the past 10 years would tell you there’s going to be some sea change after a two-receiver draft.

WHICH FREE AGENTS? Unclear when the word is going to come on a permanent stay of the lockout, the Bengals spent Monday prioritizing their list of undrafted players. And, as head coach Marvin Lewis wondered on Saturday, if the free-agent gates open at the same time, which ones do you pursue first?
The Bengals already have Kyle Cook and Reggie Stephens at center, so that’s probably not a need, but NFL.com draft titan Gil Brandt says Dalton’s center at TCU, Jake Kirkpatrick, is better than some of the guys that got drafted.

And if they think they need another running back, Brandt likes Auburn’s Mario Fannin. The 5-10, 231-pounder led the SEC with quality runs, converting 70.5 percent of the time for four yards per carry, third-down conversions, and touchdowns. And they watched Kentucky’s Derrick Locke gouge them in the first half of the Senior Bowl.

Yet the Bengals could have had them ahead of Baylor’s Jake Finley, since they took him with their last pick deep in the seventh round with the mentality of picking the best free agent on the board.

The Bengals coaches had North Carolina cornerback Kendric Burney at the Senior Bowl. The best SAM backer on the board, Brandt says, looks to be 6-4, 230-pound Quentin Davie out of Northwestern. The productive-minded Bengals might like his 24 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, and five forced fumbles in 50 games.

Another safety? They had Joe Lefeged of Rutgers at the Senior Bowl and he’s another college producer with 238 tackles and eight forced fumbles in his career.

CARSON UPDATE: Somebody said they read Carson Palmer is one of the big winners of the weekend since the selection of TCU quarterback Andy Dalton allows the Bengals to move on and trade Palmer.

As Sgt. Hulka said in Stripes, ” Lighten up, Francis.”

If anything, the Dalton pick may make sure a trade doesn’t come off. Now the Bengals are not forced to do much of anything, although they are mulling a veteran free agent quarterback for a staff that has all of 14 NFL passes. Draft picks are going to have to be involved if they trade Palmer, so maybe they’re thinking why not wait until next year when a) they actually know what they’re trading for and the things have some value and b) they know what the rules of the draft are actually going to be.

Maybe the pick sparks a compromise. Palmer comes in with the understanding Dalton is the QB of the future, plays for a year, takes the kid under his wing, and they call it even after 2011 and do a deal.

And, of course, maybe not.

But their best short to contend is with No. 9; no one debates that.

“The Bengals are a good team,” says Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com. “If Palmer is there, they’re in the mix. If he’s not, you have to scale that back. But they’re a team on the verge.”


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 26 Comments »