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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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 15 Comments »

15 Responses to “Bengals riding the Likeability Factor”

  1. By bengalpirate on Nov 6, 2011 | Reply

    I like this “team” a lot and I feel it is possibly the best team oriented unit since maybe 1990 or 1988. There are no prima donnas on this team and everyone seems more concerned with wins as opposed to personal glory and future Hall of Fame endorsements. Once again, today’s game is the most important one on the schedule. With a win, we go to 6-2 and with a loss, 5-3 and I think we can truly know what this team is made of, if we don’t allow Chris Johnson to have a breakout game. In the past 20 years, it seems like when we seem like we are about to turn the corner, we allow someone like Bret Farve, Ironhead Heyward, etc. etc. to have a breakout game that initiates, or revives their long careers and we end up on the losing end and right back to mediocrity. I agree with you that there is a certain core group of Bengal fans of about 35-40K who are always loyal fans no matter what. I’m one of them, but unfortunately, I could not make it to Nashville for the game and may not get to see all of the game today because of family matters. But believe me, I’m there in spirit. I pray and know that Bengal wins and losses don’t flow through my karma, but hope that the stars are close enough to alignment that the team can find a way to steal a victory in Nashville. 😉 Who Dey!!!

  2. By mwindle1973 on Nov 6, 2011 | Reply

    Hopefully we can keep the streak going. It’s to the point now that we could lose just because at some point you have to. It’s a momentum issue, much like a sprinter that builds his momentum for 60 yards then maintains it the rest of the way. Maintaining perfect form at top speed is what usually tips a race one way or another. But if a runner could sprint indefinitely, he would continually lose stride temporarily then regain it. That’s what a football season is kind of like. Your bound to lose your stride eventually just because you can’t be perfect forever. So what you need is for some things to go your way or opponent(s) to make some mistakes to offset yours. To me that’s what a 5 or more game winning streak is made off. Close to perfect form and some things rolling your way. Usually any time in the NFL you hit that 5 win mark with a streak, it immediately puts you on a short list of teams that could win it all. Why? Virtually all Super Bowl winners had a 5 or more game. Statistics & odds say 5 game or more streaks are a indicator of both making the playoffs and having a playoff win. Sure teams have won 5 and didn’t make the playoffs. But it’s a rarity. Last time I remember it was one of Dungy’s Bucs teams. They had a 7 game winning streak. But they also had a 5 game losing streak.

  3. By mwindle1973 on Nov 6, 2011 | Reply

    @Hobs: You are right this is a likeable bunch. They play with so much energy. It’s obvious they love playing the game, and that enthusiasm shows up on the field. In this age of micro coaching everything a player does, and exact execution being so important to success. It’s often overlooked that football is still primarily an emotion driven sport. YOu have to play with emotion and intensity, it has to be harnessed and controlled. But it is a game of passion, emotional intesity, and effort, behind the lifeless Xs & Os, and bookish preparation. And it still at times will just comes down to who wants it more.

  4. By mwindle1973 on Nov 7, 2011 | Reply

    The coaches get their credit, but they deserve more. Both coordinators have shown they know when to stick to their guns, and when to abandon ship and get creative. Both made key adjustments yesterday, but I’ll focus on Zimmer. We know already that Zim is a master of making adjustments to tighten the D up, and that a platoon of 18 players on D is keeping us fresh. We also knew that Zim is stopping the run with 7 men, only bringing the 8th man when forced to. But now we know if that doesn’t work, he can quit platooning and play with the personnel groupings to stop the offense. I’m referring to his halftime adjustment on the run. The first few series out we switched to an over front the majority of the time (normally use the under front the majority), and ceased the rotation pattern for awhile. Using only Geathers, Peko (moved from 1-tech to 3-tech), Pat Sims (@ 1-tech) and Frostee Rucker, except in obvious pass situations. This totally shut the run down, and we were within 3 pts, and they virtually abandoned the run. And by virtue destroyed their rhythm.

  5. By 303bengalguy on Nov 8, 2011 | Reply

    The likeability of the team from OUTSIDE the Cincinnati fanbase is more based on the fact that we’re the “loveable losers” to the rest of the NFL, akin to the Lions and it’s nice to see a lot of “good for you guys” from other fans on sites such as ProFootballTalk, etc. WITHIN the loyal fanbase, we’re liking the team because we have discarded so called “talent” in a variety of forms and actually gotten better for doing so, and we already got our “LUCK” so to speak, by lucking out and landing Dalton in the 2nd, who’s outperforming guys drafted ahead of him. Seeing Marvin, Zimmer, (and especially) Gruden pull this rag-tag bunch together and generate these results, then to see Mike Brown play the ultimate chess-match with Carson Palmer and WIN BIG, has been just amazing to watch unfold here.

  6. By mwindle1973 on Nov 9, 2011 | Reply

    Just ran across an interesting stat. Over the past 10 years, teams that have opened the season 6-3, made the playoffs 75% of the time. So we officially have at least a 75% chance of making the playoffs. Also, since 1990 when we started the 12 team playoff system, teams that were 5 games above .500 at any point during the season made the playoffs 238 out of 252 times, or 94% of the time. A win this week puts would put us 5 games over .500.

  7. By bengalpirate on Nov 10, 2011 | Reply

    Here we go again!!! The next, most important game of the year against the mighty Steelers is upon us. We have a horrible record at home against the Steelers the last few years and with what I’m sure will round out to at least 15-25K Steelers fans at PBS, perhaps one of the biggest challenges is not letting them make PBS into Heinz Field West. The Steelers are real good at getting into the Bengals’ heads and bodies, mentally and physically, using head games, intimidation and at times, outright thuggery. Give them credit, though, they’ll do anything to win games, let the penalties and fines be damned and no cares for opposing players that they permanently injure. I think the key to this game for the Bengals is to deny the obvious kamikaze attacks coming on Andy Dalton, AJ Green, Cedric Benson and others, don’t let the Steelers get into your heads, get into theirs and play a clean, physical, mistake/penalty free game and keep them in 3rd place in the AFC North going into the second half of the season. I hope I can keep my voice ready for Sunday’s game, in face of the cold and cough season that is wreaking havoc already, but I’m going to give it everything I’ve got in an attempt to deny the Stealers ‘ team and fans “home” field advantage. Who Dey!!!

  8. By jamison007 on Nov 10, 2011 | Reply

    My letter to the Bengals: over the summer I was getting stoked about the core of our team and the moves that were made. It inspired an office-stiff like me to get my feet moving, knees pumping and running to get back in shape. One of our readers of these blogs asked one time, why do you guys write in these blogs? I answered because each of you on our Bengals team are our warriors and the fight you give is the fight I take each time I lace up to run. My runs aren’t anything like the schedule that remains on your plate, but I have to fight for every stinking inch of it. Hobson liked my response to that blogger and encouraged me to run the Cincy 10k this Thanksgiving Day…I have my ticket and am registered and am proud to say, will be at the stadium. I fight my fight with pride and call each of you to do the same. Take down those Steelers! WHO DEY!

  9. By mwindle1973 on Nov 11, 2011 | Reply

    Congrats jamison007! Hope your 10K goes well. I’ve been reading a lot about the matchups. But I think the biggest matchup is our Dline vs. Big Ben. I’ll be real interested to see what Dline combos we go with on pass downs. But another key is who is playing. It’s a much different game with Jones, Maualuga & Gresham playing. Jones would be the most valuable addition. Jennings has had trouble jamming some WRs. And while he is performing decently he is the weakest link on the D right now. Maualuga would be great to, because he’s a little better in pursiut and a better coverage LB than Skuta, although Skuta has played very well. Gresham obviously would give you more threats downfield and over the middle. But Lee & Cochart have been doing the job. I have a suspicion that they were rested yesterday to get them as close to 100% as possible. But they may have been rested they aren’t healing. We’ll find out today.

  10. By mwindle1973 on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    Well the injuries situation didn’t turn out to well. With Lee out and Gresham questionable, we’ll be wondering probably till gametime whether Gresham will play or not. I think he will be active, but how much will he be able to go? I think Cochart can handle it if need be. But where it hurts is whenever Ds have went 8 in the box on us, we have went double TE and balanced the line. Now if Gresham can’t play we will just bring Roland in as the 2nd TE like we were early in the season. Problem with that is it telegraphs the run. We can still pass out of that formation, but in the end they know he’s not running a route. Which makes the formation a lot less effective. It may effect our ability to run some. I think what’s important is we split one of these next 2, we beat Cleveland, then split one of the next two. That puts us at 9-4. Then we take 2 out of 3 from the Rams, Cardinals, and Ravens. Or really we just need 5 more wins. 11-5 gets you in the playoffs. If the wins come against the right teams, or we get 1 or 2 more, then we win the division or more.

  11. By mwindle1973 on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    So the Media Forum is going to take the easy way out again huh? Oh, my! Rookies don’t win against LeBeau. To me that says, that they were unable to analyze the game and make a prediction. So instead allowed something else to make the decision for them. I love LeBeau. Have been a huge fan for almost 30 years. We were born in the same hospital. But they are making too big of a deal out of his prowess in this game. First he started his zone-blitz work with us. Second Marvin had to teach it to his LBs at Pittsburgh when he was there. Again Lebeau worked for us installing the full version of the D right before Lewis becomes HC. Then we have faced him how many times as an offense. I don’t care who is new on the team or coaching staff. Once you know how to teach a QB and other players the system to breaking down LeBeau’s D it doesn’t go away. Don’t get me wrong he will be a major presence just like he always is. But there’s more being made out of it than is reasonalble. Dalton will be fine. And Zimmer is going to have his own presence felt.

  12. By tepidfan31 on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    I hope I am way off base, but I think the Bengals are a year away, probably not enough maturity as yet vs. a veteran Steeler team. I hope I’m wrong, and if so, and if we play error free down the line, I am not sure who would beat us.

  13. By mwindle1973 on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    Looks like the NFL Network pundits all see Pittsburgh winning this too. It seems as if nobody wants to be the guy that picked the Bengals to win and be wrong. I wondered what these guys would pick if they weren’t worried about there record Hey here’s an idea for the media. You get paid to predict games, not play the odds. Are you pundits or Jimmy the Greek? Anyway I happened to notice that some of them (like Warren Sapp) were only grading out at 60 % on their picks. And as a whole the NFL Gameday Morning Crew picked correctly in 64% of the games. Yet the NFL fan community as a whole is picking correctly 65% of the time. So goes the opinion of “experts”. I know this, 64% average wouldn’t win an office pool from week to week. Why does it get you a job from the NFL predicting games. Really though the point is they play odds to up their average. In the end it doesn’t even work, and we get a gambler’s viewpoint, instead of an expert opinion/analysis on the game at hand.

  14. By mwindle1973 on Nov 14, 2011 | Reply

    What a game! Mixed emotions. We are better than I thought. Yet giving up 14 pts to open a home division game is not of the character of this team. But I’m not sure if it’s the character or Kelly Jennings allowing some teams to shred us. Not that all the big plays are against his coverage. It’s the way he gives them up so easy and causes us to start rolling coverage to assist him after only 3-4 plays into the game. But Zim solved the riddle and tightened the D up. But then you lose Hall. And if anyone wondered who are D MVP was, you don’t know. I’m not sure he was performing that much better than Trent, who may be better equipped to start than Jennings, because of his ability to play the run and press coverage. Mainly because he’s a much better against the run and short routes.

  15. By mwindle1973 on Nov 14, 2011 | Reply

    Losing Hall is a huge problem. But we can survive it. A lot of it will depend on keeping Adam Jones healthy. And we really need to get David Jones back. I know he had issues, but he was the nickel CB on the #4 D in the NFL when he was here in 2009. And how ironic if he is signed. We traded him and a conditional draft pick to Jacksonville for Reggie Nelson. But the conditions for the pick were never met, and the trade ended up being player-for-player. Now Nelson is one of the top FS in the NFL, and we may be regaining what we lost in the trade. That’s winning on a trade. Either way we have to find a way to get Jennings out of the line up or clean his play up to get past Hall’s injury.

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