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Thinking and Believing…again

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on November 29, 2011 – 5:32 pm

Jay Gruden

Again in honor of Listen to Lance A Lot and Peter The King, here are some things I Think I Believe:

I THINK I BELIEVE the Bengals must be having a very good year. It is not even December and already the name of a Bengals assistant coach has surfaced as a candidate for a head coaching job. In the wake of Jack Del Rio’s firing in Jacksonville on Tuesday, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com tweeted the names of Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher.

It’s not just an idle report because Prisco lives in Jacksonville, covered the Jags forever at the Florida Times-Union, and still has good ties to the club. Plus, connect the dots. Jags general manager Gene Smith and Gruden’s father are both Heidelberg College football guys.

And it makes sense. Gruden and his staff have done a remarkable job with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, while in Jacksonville franchise QB Blaine Gabbert, the guy the Bengals thankfully passed at No. 4 for A.J. Green, is backsliding.

Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer figures to get some interest, too, as the defense sniffs a top five ranking for the second time in three years. Especially since Bill Parcells is so staunchly in his corner.

It only happens when people take notice what you’re doing and the Bengals have made them do that.

I THINK I BELIEVE Geno Atkins has a shot to be the first Bengals defensive tackle to make the Pro Bowl since nose tackle Tim Krumrie in 1988. Players and coaches are no different than everyone else and vote off stats, so his NFL-leading 6.5 sacks among tackles are huge. And you’ve got national media writing that Atkins was the best defensive tackle on the field in Baltimore the other week, not Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Haloti Ngata.

I THINK I BELIEVE that Sunday’s 51-yarder from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green showcased the kind of chemistry between a QB and receiver that hasn’t been seen around these parts since Carson Palmer was throwing to T.J. Houshmandzadeh in 2007, when Houshmandzadeh shared the NFL receiving title with 112 catches.

I THINK I BELIEVE the offense’s not-so-secret weapon is tight end Jermaine Gresham. The guy is a matchup nightmare when you also have to cover the speed of Green and Jerome Simpson downfield. It is shaping up to be the best season by a Bengals tight end since Rodney Holman went to the Pro Bowl in 1990. Gresham isn’t going to the Pro Bowl, but he’s on pace for 58 catches for 575 yards and while Tony McGee had 754 yards receiving on 55 catches in 1995, he only had four TDs. Gresham already has five. Holman also had five TDs in 1990 and 14.9 yards per his 40 catches.

I THINK I BELIEVE one of the most underrated stats of this season is Mike Nugent’s 8-for-9 effort on field goals in the fourth quarter. How good has Nugent been? He’s 35-for-40 from all over for an 87.5 percentage since he became the Bengals kicker in 2010. When he arrived before the season, his career percentage was 79 percent on 79-for-100.

I THINK BELIEVE if I’m left alone in the draft room with a box of Cap’n Crunch and Stephen King’s Nov. 22, 1963, I go cornerback, wide receiver, guard, D-lineman, running back in that order with those five projected picks in the first three rounds, the guess being that extra pick in the third ends up as the compensatory pick for cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

The Bengals have to think about D-line, too. With tackle Pat Sims and DT/DEs Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene looking at free agency, how many stick around to keep being part of a rotation instead of a starter? One thing, though. Every lineman gets a pretty significant number of snaps.

I THINK I BELIEVE this is a scheme league. How else to explain that quarterback Carson Palmer is winning the kind of games in Oakland in his first month that he didn’t win in Cincinnati for several years, if ever? On Sunday in the win over the Bears he threw for 301 yards without his top running back (Darren McFadden) and two of his top three receivers in Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore.

Running back Michael Bush had just 69 yards on 24 carries. And there’s the nut. The Raiders are pounding the ball and mixing play-action for deep shots downfield with short throws to the backs as Palmer averages a whopping 8.9 yards per throw. Against the Bears he threw nine times to his fullback and running back.

He had back-to-back 100 passer rating games against Minnesota and San Diego. The last time he did that was the first two games of 2007. The last time he threw for 300 yards in a win was the last game of 2007.

The reports of his demise were clearly false. The guy can still play.

So, as it turns out, can Dalton.


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A.J. Green Deserves His Own Stat

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 27, 2011 – 9:59 pm

The NFL keeps track of game-winning 4th quarter comebacks by quarterbacks — Andy Dalton has 4 in his first 11 NFL games.

The league also keeps track of game-winning field goals in the last two minutes of regulation or in overtime — Mike Nugent has 5 in his career, including Sunday’s FG with :38 seconds left to beat Cleveland 23-20.

But one number that isn’t kept is “gigantic 4th quarter catches” that help make the other two stats possible.

If they did, A.J. Green would be 2-for-2 against the Cleveland Browns.

In the season opener in Cleveland, Green’s only catch was a game-winning 41-yard TD from Bruce Gradkowski with 4:28 remaining. On Sunday, A.J.’s third and final catch was a Lynn Swann-like balletic leaping grab of a Dalton heave that went for 51 yards with 1:08 on the clock, setting up Nugent’s 26-yard game-winner.

“To be honest with you, I don’t think I hit that game-winning field goal,” Nugent told me. “I mean A.J. Green…what was it, third-and-eight? The fact that he got the ball down the field like that. I had to go up to him and tell him how impressed I was with that. That was, without a doubt, the game-winner right there.”

“We needed a big play and I stood in there as long as I could and got the ball out,” said Dalton. “A.J. made a great catch, although I don’t really know what happened because I was on the ground.”

Dalton couldn’t see it because he got drilled by Cleveland’s Ahtyba Rubin after releasing the ball, but you can watch three replays of the catch by clicking this link.

Green’s extraordinary timing and leaping ability were on full display, but A.J. described the catch as if it were no big deal.

“I was the first option there,” Green told me. “It was a nice little dig route right across the middle and Andy threw a perfect ball and I went up and got it. I knew some people were around me so I went up and got it before anybody else had a chance.”

Ho-hum.

After missing six quarters with a bone bruise on his knee, Green had three critical catches against Cleveland: A 24-yard grab that led to a Cedric Benson touchdown run on the next play in the first quarter. A 35-yard haul that led to a Jermaine Gresham touchdown catch on the next play in the third quarter. And the 51-yard grab that set up the game-winning field goal.

“It was a great feeling just to get back out there and make some plays,” said Green. “Just to get back in that huddle man — it’s an unbelievable feeling.”

“He’s the Rookie of the Year by far,” said safety Chris Crocker. “He’s just a good guy that’s able to make plays and the kid does it every week in practice. This is not something that he does every couple of Sundays. He does these kinds of things a practice and it translates to the games. That’s what good professional football players do.”

A.J. Green is 23 years old. Andy Dalton is 24. They are two of 23 players on the Bengals roster that are 25-or-younger.

“They’re the spirit of this team,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “Our young guys are very, very talented and when they get in position, they make plays.”

* * * * *

I hope you’ll join Dave Lapham and me for “Bengals Gameplan” on Wednesday night from 6 to 8.  I’ll be on the road with the UC basketball team on Friday, but I hope you’ll join Wayne “Box” Miller and Artrell Hawkins for “Bengals Pep Rally” from 3 to 6 at the Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash.  Both shows can be heard on ESPN 1530-AM.

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.


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What About Rookie QBs vs. Baltimore?

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 16, 2011 – 4:58 pm

The big storyline last week was “Rookie QB vs. Dick LeBeau-coached defense.”

Can you even name the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator?

For the record, it’s Chuck Pagano, but if you didn’t know that, I’m fairly certain that you can identify Baltimore’s best linebacker, safety, and pass rusher.

Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs.

The Ravens defensive strategy might not be quite as difficult for a quarterback to decipher as what LeBeau does in Pittsburgh, but since 2008, Baltimore has given up the fewest points per game (16.3) of any team in the NFL. Pittsburgh ranks second at 16.5, and no other NFL team has allowed fewer than 19.

“Every week is a challenge, but Baltimore and Pittsburgh are in their own category,” said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.  “They have very experienced players and have been dominant on defense for a lot of years for a reason.  They have great players and a very good scheme.”

The heart and soul of Baltimore’s defense is 36-year-old Ray Lewis who is the only player in NFL history to record 40 sacks and 30 interceptions in his career.  The 12-time Pro Bowler is still playing at a high level in his 16th NFL season.

“He’s such a great student of the game,” said head coach Marvin Lewis.  “He uses his knowledge of the game and what you do to his advantage.  And he’s still very, very sudden.” 

Then there’s safety Ed Reed – the NFL’s active leader in career interceptions (56) and defensive touchdowns (8).

Earlier this year, NFL Network ran a behind-the-scenes special about Patriots coach Bill Belichick that included a segment that showed him and Tom Brady studying tape of Reed (you can watch it here).  Belichick and Brady marveled at Reed’s knack for reading the quarterback and ignoring his own defensive responsibilities in order to make big plays.

“I’ve been a big Ed Reed fan for a lot of years,” said Gruden.  “He’s one of my favorite defensive players ever.  He’s got incredible ball skills and a feel for the game and makes big plays at critical moments.  He’s done that year-in and year-out for a long time, even going back to theUniversity of Miami.  As a quarterback, you have to know where he is at all times.  If you’re going to throw a deep ball, you had better know where he is before you throw it because he makes up so much ground.”   

“He has great instincts,” said Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.  “He plays the eyes really well and has a really good feel for the game.  You definitely have to know where he is.” 

The rookie quarterback also has to keep his eyes on four-time Pro Bowler Terrell Suggs – the Ravens all-time leader in sacks (74.5) and forced fumbles (24). Dalton was not sacked in last week’s loss to Pittsburgh and has only been sacked 13 times this season – tied for third-fewest in the NFL.

“We try to avoid negative plays,” said Dalton.  “I’m trying to do whatever I can to either get the ball out of my hands or move around a little bit so I’m not getting sacked.”

“Sometimes he sees things a little too quickly and wants to get it out of his hands instead of letting plays develop,” said Gruden.  “(Ben) Roethlisberger takes a lot of sacks, but makes up for it by buying a lot of time and finding open receivers down the field for huge plays.  That’s something we’re lacking right now.  Sometimes, you want him to hang in there just a little bit longer, but he does go through his progressions very fast and makes good decisions most of the time.”

Following the Steelers win over the Bengals last week, rookie quarterbacks fell to 1-13 vs. Pittsburgh since LeBeau became the defensive coordinator in 2004.  In case you’re wondering, rookie QBs are 1-0 vs. Baltimore since Pagano became the defensive coordinator this year.  Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert went 9-for-20 for 93 yards with 0 TD and 0 INT in the Jaguars’ 12-7 win in Week 6.

“The Ravens are blitzing a lot,” said Gruden.  “They pose a problem for you and you had better not get into third-and-long very often or it’s going to be a long day for you.  It’s going to be very important for us to maintain the line of scrimmage, run the ball, and get into third down and ‘makeable’ where we have a chance to run or throw.”

“We’re facing another good defense so it comes down to preparation,” said Dalton.  “We feel like we put in a good game plan – now it’s a matter of going out and executing.” 

* * * * * 

I hope you’ll join Dave Lapham and Wayne“Box” Miller for “Bengals Gameplan” on Wednesday night from 6 to 8.  I’ll be on the road with the UC football team on Friday, but I hope you’ll join Miller and Artrell Hawkins for “Bengals Pep Rally” from 3 to 6 at the Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash.  Both shows can be heard on ESPN 1530-AM.

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.


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Hall timeline a guess, not his impact

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on November 14, 2011 – 10:44 am

This is a tough day at Paul Brown Stadium.

With the Bengals expected to put cornerback Leon Hall on injured reserve as early as Monday, it hits this team right where it lives.

Drawing on past experiences with torn Achilles, Hall could be on the field at the start of the next training camp with limited activity during the spring. The worst case scenario is that he would have to begin the season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) and miss the first six weeks.

It’s all speculation of course because it depends on the player. When tight end Reggie Kelly tore his Achilles in the first week of training camp at age 32 in 2009, the Bengals didn’t give him much chance to come back anywhere near his form. But he surprised them and was at training camp better than ever and held up all year.

It is one of the more challenging injuries from which to return, but with Hall not turning 27 until December and possessing a big-time work ethic, he’s a good guy to, as they say, put down your chip.

But still, this may be the one guy on the 53 that they couldn’t lose for the final seven games.

Sure, he had struggled in the Seattle game and Sunday was probably the worst he had looked in a big game in his five seasons here before he tore his Achilles. But if the Bengals have an indispensable player, it is Hall.

Just listen to safety Chris Crocker after Sunday’s game:

“It changes your mentality if you’re a coordinator because Leon allows us to do so many things,” Crocker said. “He allows us to play a lot of man-to-man, he allows us to do a lot of things in zone. He’s a big part of what we do. You lose him in a game, it’s big. And the guy never gets hurt? How do you plan for that?”

You don’t replace your best man-to-man corner in the middle of the season. Not even Bill Belichick does that. Not only that, you probably have to rip up a lot of what you do if you’re defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. This is going to be a long week on the defensive side of the ball.

Not only has Hall never missed a game, but go back to OTAs and everything else since he arrived here as the 18th pick in 2007, and you can count the number of practices he’s missed. He hadn’t missed a practice until the start of the 2010 training camp for a few days. The durability and reliability are major reasons the Bengals gave him that big extension just before the season.

Not only that, but Hall is a tremendous rallying figure in the locker room. A big-time leader in his position group and one of the all-time nice guys.

But, how many teams in the NFL can turn to a top 10 pick on their bench in Adam Jones? It’s huge. There’s no question that in his mind Jones is a starter and he has the physical talent of a starter. But no one knows when he‘ll be ready as he grapples with his own physical challenges. After not being able to play football for a year because of his neck injury, he’s finding out you need every muscle to turn and run with fast receivers like A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson and his hamstring is struggling to make the transition. And there is the rust factor.

Still, how many teams in the league have that guy on the bench in that premium of position at this point in the season? But, the Bengals are a long way from 2009 when Zimmer based his defense on two solid man-to-man corners. Getting Jones healthy would be a big help on that score. If dedication and enthusiasm counted, it would work out for everyone.
But there is no question that the Bengals are entering the stretch run in one of the toughest spots imaginable.

Leave it to Crocker: “Now,” he said, “this is where you find out where you are as a team.”


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Does Anything Make Andy Dalton Nervous?

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 9, 2011 – 4:25 pm

What makes Andy Dalton nervous?

“Nothing as far as I can tell,” said center Kyle Cook.

“Maybe when his wife calls and he’s late getting home from meetings.  That might be about it,” said backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.  “I’ll have to think about that one – I’ll keep a closer eye on him.”

With three fourth quarter comebacks in his first eight NFL starts, Dalton doesn’t appear to get the jitters when the game is on the line, but what about normal nerve-racking stuff like speaking in front of a big group or standing at the altar on his wedding day?

“Public speaking maybe a little bit,” Dalton told me with a laugh.  “My wedding day didn’t make me nervous.  I knew that I loved her and that she loved me.  It was fun more than anything.”

Maybe his nickname should be “The Relaxed Rifle.”

To put Dalton’s first eight NFL games into perspective, Andy already has as many fourth quarter comeback victories (3) as Aaron Rodgers has in his career.  The all-time leader in fourth quarter comebacks – according to Pro-Football-Reference.com – is Peyton Manning with 35 and Manning didn’t get his third until his 21st career game.  The next two quarterbacks on the all-time list, Dan Marino and John Elway, both pulled off their third 4th quarter comeback victory in the 11th game of their second season.

While it appears that nothing rattles the rookie from TCU, he does admit to occasionally feeling butterflies in his gut.

“There have been times where I was nervous playing football, but the more prepared that I am, the more confident I feel, and the less nerves there are,” said Dalton.  “I feel like I stay pretty calm throughout.  I think a lot of that has to due with the preparation that I put into it.”

This week, Dalton is busy preparing for his first matchup with Dick LeBeau and the Pittsburgh Steelers.  As Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson pointed out this week, rookie quarterbacks are 1-11 vs. the Steelers with 7 TD passes and 12 INT since LeBeau became the defensive coordinator in 2004.

“They’re going to give you a lot of looks,” said head coach Marvin Lewis.  “The things that they do now and that Dick started have spread across the NFL, so there’s nothing that we’re going to see this week that we haven’t already seen.  The configurations are things that we see every week so I think a little too much is made of that.  The Steelers are doing it with good players and guys that anticipate and understand and are used to playing together.  They’ve been doing it for a long time and they do it at a very high speed.” 

Facing the Steelers for the first time is a formidable challenge, but Dalton has rarely come up short since becoming the starting quarterback as a redshirt freshman at TCU.  Between the Bengals and Horned Frogs, Andy is 48-9 as a starting QB.

“What he’s doing is not a surprise to me, but I’d be a liar if I said that I knew he’d be doing this as a rookie,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson told reporters this week.  “I think the city of Cincinnati likes how Andy Dalton is a great role model for how you want to do things down the road.  Andy Dalton is trying right now to be the best he can be.”

* * * * *

I hope you’ll join Dave Lapham and me for “Bengals Gameplan” on Wednesday night from 6 to 8 and Artrell Hawkins and me for “Bengals Pep Rally” on Friday afternoon from 2:30 to 5:30 live from the Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash.  Both shows can be heard on ESPN 1530-AM.

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.


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Bengals riding the Likeability Factor

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on November 6, 2011 – 10:38 am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Just a Red Baron throw away from the team hotel, Bengaldom arrived in full force Saturday night to invade the bars and restaurants of Broadway. “Who Dey” could be heard above the who done somebody wrong songs as their Bengals stalked their first five-game winning streak since the last Super Bowl season.

Just more evidence that the Bengals have one of the more diehard fan bases around the NFL. They’ve lost some along the way, but there always seems to be a close-knit, damn-the-torpedoes following no matter the season or venue.

They are at a fever pitch this trip at 5-2 and the Steelers leering at the Bengals next week at Paul Brown Stadium. And the reason is as clear as that tiger-striped pocketbook or those orange and black necklaces, and that old Boomer Esiason No. 7 jersey that made the rounds in the Nashville night.

Likeability. The likeability factor of this team is through the roof. They don’t swagger, they persevere. They don’t boast. They grind. They don’t celebrate. They commiserate like Adam Jones chest-bumping Brandon Tate after his punt return touchdown last week in Seattle.

A much warmer and fuzzier team than the 2009 AFC North champs. After all, there’s nobody on this team that told them to go pound salt.

And this team doesn’t play with that lumbering here-we-go-again burden of the past, when opposing coaches used to tell their teams, “Just stay close. The Bengals will find a way to blow it.”

A 10-game losing streak against Buffalo? Four Bengals were born after it started. A shot at the first five-game winning streak since ’88? The Red Baron was less than a year old.

There are too many guys like safety Reggie Nelson around now. If you’re looking for a face on this faceless team, his is as good as the next. Sentenced as a first-round bust, Nelson was traded before he got cut before the 2010 season and in this his fifth NFL season he’s playing with first-round impact.

Nelson’s day in Seattle is a microcosm of why this team is 5-2. He made a huge play on the last snap of the first half when he prevented a touchdown and he sealed it with 35 seconds left in the game with his first NFL touchdown on a 75-yard interception return.

But before that, in the first quarter, he was struggling. He dropped an interception and his unnecessary roughness penalty ignited Seattle’s only scoring drive of the half.

Plus, he had to deal with head coach Marvin Lewis crawling all over him after the penalty.

“That’s football. I’m not worried about penalties. I moved on as soon as he threw the penalty,” Nelson said. “There are a lot of penalties. If everybody worried about penalties, this would be a messed-up game. Of course Marv got on me. You’ve got to accept that. Everybody’s got a job to do.”

And Nelson moved on in time to make the biggest play of the game. With 14 seconds left in the half on fourth-and-two from the Bengals 3, all Nelson knew is the Bengals had to stop the Seahawks. So when he penetrated the middle on the surprising run play and stopped running back Marshawn Lynch at the 1, he wasn’t caught up in anything but the moment.

He wasn’t even sure it was fourth down or that Seattle got the first down on the play but failed to line up on the ball and let the half run out with no points.

“That was a big play for the defense because they were going to get the second half kickoff, too,” Nelson said.

All Nelson was worried about was the play and he saw that Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson thought the Bengals were in one look when they were actually in another. And when he saw Jackson check at the line, Nelson also saw a gap open on the line and his instincts took over.

“I just went through the gap,”’ he said. “I was focused on just executing the defense.”

But if he didn’t, he would have moved on. Which seems to be one of the many reasons for the likeability factor of these Bengals.

Before it all began in September, the pundits said the Bengals were the worst team in football. No past to haunt. No future to fulfill.
Just play.


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Website Ranks Carlos Dunlap Number One

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 3, 2011 – 3:57 pm

Perhaps you read over the weekend that the website ProFootballFocus.com has Andrew Whitworth rated as the top left tackle in the AFC.

Would it surprise you to hear that another member of the Cincinnati Bengals is rated number one at his position?

Sam Monson, an analyst for ProFootballFocus.com, joined Dave Lapham and me on “Bengals Gameplan” this Wednesday night on Fox Sports 1360, and said that Carlos Dunlap is having a Pro Bowl-caliber season to date.

“He only has one sack, but in terms of pressures and hits, he’s getting to the quarterback with the same kind of frequency as Trent Cole,” said Monson.  “Dunlap has 23 pressures (19 according to Bengals stats) and nine knockdowns of the quarterback.  He’s applying pressure on one out of every five attempts at rushing the passer which is a ridiculous level.  I mean, Dwight Freeney in his best seasons applies pressure one out of every six snaps.  We’re talking a crazy level – he’s actually at the moment our top-ranked 4-3 defensive end.”

I passed that lofty ranking along to Dunlap.

“That’s an amazing acknowledgement, but it’s still half-way through the season,” Carlos told me.  “I want to hear that at the end of the season.”

The staff at ProFootballFocus.com watches every NFL game on a play-by-play basis and grades every player on every snap.  Dunlap has posted a positive grade in all seven games, and had the best game of his career last Sunday according to the website with seven QB pressures, three QB hits, and one sack in 58 snaps.   

“I feel like that game and the Jets game from last year were probably about the same,” said Dunlap.  “I felt like this one was right up there, but I might give the Jets game an edge because that was my first two-sack game.”

Dunlap’s fourth quarter sack of Seattle’s Tarvaris Jackson last week was his first of the season, and while he’s determined to add to his sack total, his primary goal is to continue applying pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

“That’s just as good,” said Dunlap.  “It’s one of those stats that don’t show up on paper, but it’s as important as getting the sack itself.  If you can consistently give pressure, that’s better than getting a sack every now and then.”

* * * * *

You might have also read this recent story in the Orlando Sentinel that makes the case that the Miami Dolphins or Jacksonville Jaguars should hire Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to be their new head coach.

I asked Jay for his reaction to the article.

“I’ve told people this and they probably think that I’m lying, but I’ve never really looked beyond where I’m at right now,” Coach Gruden said.  “I’m happy where I am and my only focus is to put these guys into position to make plays.  Whatever happens 5, 6, 10 years down the road happens, and there’s no way that I’m ready to be a head coach right now.  He’s been an Orlando writer for a long time and it was a nice article, but it’s very, very far-fetched.

“This is a fun group to coach and I’m not looking to go anywhere else.  It’s not very often that you get a guy to work with like Andy Dalton and a receiver to work with like A.J. Green.  We have a good, young offensive line that’s playing pretty well together and the sky is the limit for this team.  Down the road – maybe – but right now, I’m definitely looking forward to watching these guys grow up as players and as men.”

* * * * *

I hope you’ll join Artrell Hawkins and me for “Bengals Pep Rally” on Friday from 3-6 at the Firehouse Grill in Blue Ash.  If you can’t join us in person, you can listen to the show on ESPN 1530.

I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@bengals.nfl.net

If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

And I’m on Facebook.  Just search for Dan Hoard and look for the photo of me with the handsome lad.


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