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Chemistry change

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on October 9, 2011 – 9:49 am

Nate Clements

JACKSONVILLE – Now that the Bengals starting quarterback was born the same season Boomer Esiason sat in front of the bus and the club’s Pro Bowl wide receiver was born the year Eddie Brown went to his only Pro Bowl, the Andy Dalton-A.J. Green era looks ready to write the next chapter of Bengaldom.

But an old man beat them to the punch. Cornerback Nate Clements, the oldest man on defense at age 31, born during a season Ken Riley still patrolled the corner, may have had the most to say about the new era last Sunday during halftime of the win over Buffalo.

With the Bengals down, 17-3, and looking more interested in their touches than their team, Clements spoke up. As his teammates gathered in their huddle before going back out on to the field, Clements reminded them in a quick, emotional address that they were still in it and that if they stuck together they could win.

“I was just being myself,” Clements said last week as the Bengals prepared for the Jaguars. “I felt like we needed a jump-start before going out there after what happened early in the game.”

If you’re looking for the biggest difference in head coach Marvin Lewis’ third rebuilding process of his nine seasons, this is it.

In 2003 the first one was built on implementing Lewis’ organization and philosophy for a locker room that had none. Before the start of the 2008 and then hurried along by an unbelievable run of injuries, the second reboot featured an overhauling of a veteran roster that couldn’t get over the 8-8, 7-9 hump. It was turned over to guys like Dhani Jones and Chris Crocker, journeymen veterans thankful for one last shot, and Andrew Whitworth and Domata Peko, young players on the rise that saw where the talented teams failed.

Now you have this one in 2011, marked by a massive personnel change on offense led by Dalton and Green, but along with it the installation of a group of veterans such as Whitworth, Peko, Leon Hall and Bobbie Williams that saw how not to do it in the locker room, and the infusion of professional, solid veterans like Clements, Thomas Howard, Manny Lawson and Kelly Jennings have brought a fresh perspective.

Throw in the departures of long-time locker-room personalities, whether they were positive or negative, and it allowed the new breed to flex its muscles.

It helped that the draft classes of 2009-11 yielded a vein of blue-collar players that have blue chip talent. Ask around the locker room, and the long-timers keep talking about how the young guys always seem to be talking about football and not the complementary items.

The result seems to be, as evidenced by Clements’ Buffalo Address, that the players have taken more ownership than at any point in Lewis’ run. No more passive aggressive. If they don’t like it, they’ll tell their teammates.

“I think there’s more ownership, but I don’t think it’s anything over the top,” Hall said. “There aren’t a whole lot of players that are yelling and screaming. I think you definitely get a sense of ownership.”

Clements says he just did what came natural, which may be the best way to describe how the altered chemistry is bubbling. He didn’t have any index cards.

“I’m pretty sure I’ve done it before, but I can’t remember one particular moment,” Clements said. “I didn’t plan it or rehearse it. Nobody was bickering. Nobody had their heads down. It was just something I thought we needed at the time. It wasn’t to chew anybody out. It was motivation. If you keep playing, the score is going to take care of itself.”

Clements said he had no worries that anyone would object to him speaking up or taking it the wrong way. Indeed, the reaction has been overwhelming positive.

“We all understand each other in here,” Clements said.

That could end up being the ’11 mantra. Right next to Lewis’ “Find A Way” T-shirts.


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 20 Comments »


20 Responses to “Chemistry change”

  1. By bengalpirate on Oct 9, 2011 | Reply

    I think it bodes well for the team and the Bengal Nation that there is a blend of young and older leadership to show the way to NFL success. However, if it does not translate into wins and moving into playoff wins, it is all for naught. It does not mean that a win today is critical to overall success, but going forward they need to win games that they should win and learn to put the building blocks in place that will allow for a dominant team to win the division and playoff games consistently. If they can do that, then we can look towards winning the Super Bowl. I know I keep banging on the focus, concentration and intensity (FCI) needed to win in the NFL, but it is, in my opinion, FCI coupled with Leadership at all levels, that will lead to an NFL Championsip. Who Dey!!!

  2. By mwindle1973 on Oct 9, 2011 | Reply

    First 4 passes are to Simpson. After only targeting him 7 times in the last 2 games, looks like we are done sitting on the fence with him. After Nate Livings got us sacked out of FG position, because he doesn’t know how to block a stunt in his 3rd season as a starter, Dalton to Green on 3 & 17 for a 37 yd TD! Nice throw in the big wind too.

  3. By mwindle1973 on Oct 9, 2011 | Reply

    Yeah you can tell these are a group of players that take ownership of the roles on the team. There’s just so much focus on what your supposed to be doing and doing it right. No matter what happens this season, we are sowing the seeds of a successful future.

  4. By mwindle1973 on Oct 10, 2011 | Reply

    @Hobson: Doolin Dalton…great song! Great story behind the song too! Originally the Dalton Gang. They split ways with the Bill Doolin’s faction, just before the Coffeyville shootout, where all members were killed but Bill Dalton and Emmett Dalton. They then rejoined Bill Doolin’s gang and rebanded as the Wild Bunch, later historically referred to as the Doolin-Dalton gang. They were one of the more memorable gangs of the Old West. With no other gang meeting a more violent end. All 11 members would die in gunfights with lawmen. Many in the Battle of Ingalls. Mainly known for their daring bank and train heists, which were aimed as much at making them famous as they were at making them money. They were also known for their ferocity in battle, being the last major gang of the Old West era, and as the key figures in the last two major gunfights/battles of that era, in the Coffeyville shootout and the Battle of Ingalls. It’s notable that the gang was ambushed several times, escaping narrowly each time, until they finally disbanded and were hunted down individually. Disavowed, dangerous, daring, death-defying, duelin’ Daltons.

  5. By coachwine on Oct 12, 2011 | Reply

    I’m old enough to remember the Bengals first Super bowl season when they came out of the gate (more) quickly than this year. After giving the score of one of the games, one of the panel members offered this brilliant forecast: ‘that’s a joke, they’re terrible” and then after the season saying they had a better chance than the 49ers for more staying power at the top. (As usual, wrong on both counts.) It didn’t take a genius to see that the Bengals defense was going to be much better with a new linebacker corps, solid pickups in the secondary despite the big loss of Joseph and a beast of a D-Line with lots of capable young bodies that got to develop last year because of injuries to some of the stalwarts. Pundits do a great job of telling you the old news, but from my many years as a sports observer, the prognosticators need to find new work, because they’re really not much good at anything other than stirring the pot–which is what i guess big time sports has reduced itself to. Go Bengals! There are still 41,000 of us that love you and many more when they stop letting sports reporters do their thinking for them.

  6. By crcrcr123 on Oct 13, 2011 | Reply

    I was reading your article on Benson and Scott. I think there is a “chemistry” component that needs to be resolved so things don’t go south there. I’m reminded of Woody Allen’s movie “What’s Up Tiger Lilly?” The way I see it, Cedric Benson is our bread, and Bernard Scott is our butter. Oh wait, Scott is our bread and Benson is our butter. No wait, Benson is our – I mean Scott … Yeah, I meant to say… Um wait, hmmm. Yes, I got it! Benson and Scott are our various breads and um, you know, our uh various butters. Yeah… How’s that for chemistry, lol

  7. By crcrcr123 on Oct 13, 2011 | Reply

    I should add, I don’t care as long as they win. And hopefully they don’t, either.

  8. By bengalpirate on Oct 14, 2011 | Reply

    I heard you on the radio with Bengals Update this morning on my way to work and I could not agree more that the Colts game is a “trap” game. The Colts are not that far removed from the dominant team they were last year and years before and still have many star players that will bring their A game Sunday. This is a great barometer game, where we get to see what the Bengals are made of and measure it up to past teams. The thought of going into the bye week 4-2 is a sweet thought, but the team needs to find a way to deliver the win, regardless if the Colts are 0-5, or 5-0. Who Dey!!!

  9. By mwindle1973 on Oct 14, 2011 | Reply

    @bengalpirate: I agree this is a trap game. Everything you say is true, plus they are getting better at QB each week. They made a big mistake not starting Painter week 1. And as I always like to point out, we are playing an NFL team, they are all good. We could easily be 5-0 right now. We could easily be 0-5 as well. But on paper we should win this game easily. Addai is out for the Colts, and our Dline should manhandle their smallish offensive line. The Oline from l to r runs 305, 311, 295, 320, 320. Plus they have a rookie LT and 2nd year RT making his 10th start, and a 2nd year LG making his 5th start. Throw in a 3rd year QB making his 3rd start with all of 96 NFL pass attempts, and a rookie RB who has 41 NFL carries and you see our D should dominate this game. Especially the run game. To me the keys to winning are, stop the run, get pressure in the pass rush, don’t turn the ball over on offense, and manage field position. Oh and like bengalpirate said, the most important thing, don’t take the Colts too lightly.

  10. By coachwine on Oct 14, 2011 | Reply

    I started saying right after the last game that this (Colts) game was a trap game. My buddies have laughed me off. We’ll see! If the Bengals come out with lazy bodies and minds in this one, a very proud football team will dominate the lines like Denver did, even without Peyton. The Bengals are a better football team overall “right now”, but the better team still has to play like it in this parallel parity universe that is the NFL.

  11. By mwindle1973 on Oct 14, 2011 | Reply

    I put the chances of Carson Palmer being traded by Tuesday’s deadline at 100 to 1. But at the same time I think the media reads too much into what Brown says. All he said was the team “has no plans” to trade Palmer by the deadline. That is a bland technical statement from a lawyer, that does what Brown wanted. To answer the question directly, but in a manner that provides as little information as possible, and doesn’t pin the one down to a specific position. So his statement means nothing. Having no plans to trade him by the deadline, just means they aren’t shopping him around or actively have a policy in place to trade him by the deadline. That doesn’t if a team calls we aren’t listening though. I guarantee you that if a team calls with the right offer, Brown will unload him. He’s made it clear if you listen to his statements and not the media stories, that he wants more value for Palmer than he is being offered. And that is why a trade won’t happen by the deadline.

  12. By mwindle1973 on Oct 15, 2011 | Reply

    I’m pretty worried about Maualuga being out this week (and beyond). Skuta is a solid player. He does pretty good against the run, especially inside the tackles. So I think the running D should only be effected slightly, mainly on outside runs. Where the big drop off comes is in pass coverage. I imagine they will pull him out and play B Johnson in the middle in the Nickel. But Skuta is still going to have to cover some. He got burnt big time in preseason on quite a few plays. I’m hoping they have coached him up some since then. Because if not then that means we have to change up the coverage schemes, and we only had 1 practice to work with it. It basically means one thing. Becuase nobody else but Skuta can play MLB on run downs, but Vincent Rey. It means that the safties are going to have to take on more coverage responsibilites and their going to have to learn it on the fly. I trust the coaches, but I have to wonder how Vincent Rey is coming along. He was a lot more balanced of a player, and more athletic than Skuta. But had also still too young and making some big mistakes. With Rey and Muckelroy we have to really good MLBs that will be big contributors in the future.

  13. By mwindle1973 on Oct 16, 2011 | Reply

    @Hobson: In your interview with Mike Brown, your headline says ‘Bengals won’t deal Palmer by deadline’. In all fairness to Brown, you are acting like he said that, and he didn’t. He just said nothing is happening right now. Like no deals in the works. But he didn’t rule out a deal either, if one did get offered up. That’s all he’s been saying since this hit the news world last week. No new news here again. Just someone at an owner’s meeting asking the same question about Palmer for the 100th time, and Brown giving the only answer he could. That we have no plans on it. Again meaning we aren’t pursuing a trade. Didn’t mean a team wasn’t going to make an offer though! Now NFL.com has an article running where they claim he said he would not trade Palmer even if a deal that looked good on paper became available. He said nothing of the kind. The media just paraphrases things to a ridiculous extent anymore.

  14. By mwindle1973 on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    NFL.com is featuring a story today that says Raider’s team sources said that trading for Palmer by tomorrow is their primary focus for replacing the injured Jason Campbell, who they lost for the season yesterday. They also have doubts the Bengals will actually do it. The real question is what are they offering? I think if they offer enough Brown will trade him. See if you had an item that was hard to find and worth a lot. But at the same time you needed money really bad, and everyone knew it. So they kept offering you half the value for your item. Would it be smart to just get rid of it for half the money, or say no I won’t sell it for less than it’s worse, no matter what? I would do the latter because eventually they will see you are serious and start offering you full value for your item. Because they still want it either way…remember it’s hard to find and worth a lot. So I don’t know what the Raider’s will offer…but if they don’t offer enough, certainly by March teams will get they will have to pay full price for Palmer.

  15. By mwindle1973 on Oct 17, 2011 | Reply

    One more thing on Brown/Palmer…in Hobson’s recent interview with Brown, he asked if Brown was willing to trade Palmer in the offseason. He made a very telling answer. He said that they haven’t thought that far ahead. Then said but we will consider a trade of any player. He didn’t say at that time. Just period, meaning at any time they will consider trading any player they have. This to me pretty clearly indicates that they don’t rule trades out period. Even in Palmer’s case. That they will look at, and consider all offers on all players.

  16. By mwindle1973 on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    Lewis said “he” did a good job of driving fans away. Immediately one thinks, did he mean Brown, Palmer, Ocho, TO? “He” in my opinion is Paul Daugherty, from the Cincy Enquirer. He has been bashing Brown and the team for years. But particularly last year when he was writing columns urging fans to boycott the team. And as recently as late-August was still writing the second coming of the Lost Decade articles about the team. He’s been overly critical of Lewis from the begining. And he really poured it on thick last season and this offseason. And now of course he’s changed his tune in the last couple weeks, but without really fessing up he’s been wrong all offseason saying the team was going the wrong direction, back to the Lost Decade.

  17. By mwindle1973 on Oct 18, 2011 | Reply

    So all I’ve been reading in blogs, etc for months is how Mike Brown is the most stupid owner in football because he won’t trade Palmer, because he wants to make him pay. I mean really people were posting this long before trades were even allowed. People don’t seem to realize that the first chance for Palmer to be traded was in the end of July when the lockout ended. So I kept posting even as late as last night, that this was not over, and if the Oakland offered up a 1st and 2nd rounder, or any team did, Brown would move him. And I also kept telling people that his recent statements were being misread. People roasted me! They told me if we were lucky we could maybe, in a perfect world, get a 2nd round conditional pick. I kept pointing to the Kolb trade, and the fact that Palmer is a bigger asset than Kolb was. But nobobdy believed me. Now I doubt we are going to hear about it. But actually when it comes to business matters, Brown is one of the smartest. And not saying let’s all bow to Brown the greatest owner ever. But the man is severely criticized and fairly enough. But let’s give him fair credit when deserved. He took the rest of the NFL to school on how to deal with a situation like this. He took a situation that could’ve sent the team back to the Lost Decade status, and instead we are more stable than ever. We are one of the most talented young teams in the league. We have one of the best coaching staffs. And now we have double 1st rounders in the coming draft, and double 1st or 2nd rounders the following draft.

  18. By theblindmind on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Has anyone actually looked at the Bengals schedule this year? Im tired of people saying they are playing with house money this year. If we split with Baltimore and Pittsburgh and win one of the Houston or Titans game and win the games we should were a playoff contention team.

  19. By tepidfan31 on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    A comment re Palmer. If Mike B. chose to play poker in order to up the ante in terms of draft choices, I applaud him. Eventually, he had to consider what was best for the team, and if this was the strategy, rather than his ego, again I applaud him. Realistically, if a player is expected to honor his contract, then management should be expected to do so as well. Whereas in NFL practice, contracts are written so that management can treat the players as chattel. So this was never nor should have never been considered an ethical or moral issue; just gamesmanship.

  20. By bengalpirate on Oct 19, 2011 | Reply

    Now that the dust has cleared form the Carson Palmer trade to Oakland, I’m glad we can all move on and I wish Carson the best of luck. Except, of course, when he plays the Bengals. I still feel like Carson got a raw deal here from some fans and the media and by his own words yesterday, a lot of the quotes allegedly attributed to Carson were false and outright lies. In the course of the media and fan frenzy, everybody had a quote or a comment, very few of which were actually based on facts. Once again, I think Carson is a class act and I will now, after several years, have a second NFL team I can root for, as the only other team I ever had any loyalty to was the Raiders. After all, we pirates have to stick together, except again, when the Bengals play the Raiders. :-) Carson going to the Raiders continues a line of former Bengal players going to the Raiders, like Max Montoya, David Fulcher and now Carson. Good luck Carson and best wishes to you and family and thanks for the great years you had here and one last WHO DEY!!! to you.

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