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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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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 21 Comments »


21 Responses to “Thinking and Believing…again”

  1. By theredbengal on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    Man, I’d hate to lose Gruden after one year, but it would be hard to turn down a HC job if offered. How did Geno Atkins fall to the 4th round of 2010 draft? Whatever the reason, THANK YOU. Dalton to Green. Dalton to Green. Dalton to Green. I can’t wait to open the newspaper in 2017 and still see those 3 words in the headline. No one has really discussed it, but Gresham has become a very good blocker. Tony McGee was never the blocker Gresham has become. There’s no doubt Gresham could put up numbers like McGee, and even better ones, if we were to use him like the Bruce Coslet offenses of the ’90s used McGee. Nugent’s been darn near flawless since he got here. It’s great to see the local kicking boys doing well. Hopefully the organization is able to resign at least two of the three FA d-linemen. It has been a fantastic rotation, and it’s very cool that all 8 guys were drafted by the Bengals, and the majority of them were not highly touted draft picks. What a crazy ride this year has been for Bengals fans….

  2. By overthroensamoan on Nov 29, 2011 | Reply

    I think I believe the first player they draft better be David DeCastro the all everything G from Stanford then with that 2nd first rounder Mr Dennard CB from Nebraska. BTW Geno Atkins Defense MVP.

  3. By jamison007 on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

    @Hobson: one heck of a post. Agreed on Carson and scheme. I would like to add something – I think I believe its time for Cincinnati fans to ‘Fan Up’! This is a special team. I was at PBS for the Browns game and I have a request of Bengal Fans. Admittedly I was totally juiced to be in Cincy at PBS in the field seats. I was cursing in my frustration at how our D started the game and that is understandably frowned upon by the fans due to the kids. Lets respect that. But I stopped using bad words and was just being plain loud from that point on…yet I still got called out to security. My question to the fans and security is this – excuse me, but its playoff time – we have to get loud! I apologize for my cursing, but I won’t apologize for being an insanely fanatic fan being loud for my team. Who Dey! I challenge the rest of our fans in the stadium to get louder than they ever have when the Texans come to town.

  4. By hobsonschoice1 on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

    JAMISON _ I hear you. I was afraid I was going to get jacked out of the press box when Jay started throwing the ball around in the fourth quarter. Bengals fans always come through at crunch time. Now they have a team that does.

    Gruden has been tremendous, though, hasn’t he? Really, the entire coaching staff, both sides of the ball, right down to the strength guys. Everybody is worried about the lockout and these guys are outscoring people by 50 in the fourth quarter.

    A guy you never hear about is QBs coach Ken Zampese, but he’s made a seamless transition from Palmer and that offense to this one and Dalton and that’s got to be a lot harder than they’ve made it look.

  5. By mzitt18 on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

    Receiver as our second need in the draft? Come on, Hobs. I agree with Corner and Guard being significant needs, but not receiver. If Simpson is re-signed I think he, Green, Shipley, and Gresham make a nice foursome heading into next year. I would consider taking one in the third round if we get the compensatory for Joseph, but there are other more pressing needs. I would consider tackle before receiver, perhaps Andre Smith can move to guard.

  6. By bengalsfan339 on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

    5 picks in the first 3 plus an extra later from Pats. I’d be looking to maybe package together to trade up. we dont need to replace roster, just get stroger at certain positions ( safety,cb,gaurd) re the free agents, dont the Bengals have a ton of cap room since they dont have to hold Palmers contract $$. Reward these guys now and dont let them even dip their toes in the water

  7. By jamison007 on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

    @Hobson – I sooo definitely agree that our coaching staff deserves the praise of BengalNation. No discrespect to Coach Brat, but during the offseason some of us called it…we needed a new scheme on O and yes, Carson is a stud and thank our lucky stripes that Dalton has huge stud talent growing right before our eyes at an amazing pace. The Browns game should give him yet another boost of confidence as he takes the Dalton-Gang into the ‘pit’…I really hope the D comes big and mean to the game so they set up the O with chances early to take a lead! Who Dey!

  8. By mwindle1973 on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

    @Hobson: I have to get this out of my system. Carson and his “new” scheme is an agrument we’ve had here before. Scheme is not going to do it alone. Have to have the right personnel for your scheme and we never did here. How else do you explain Carson’s success in Oakland. It’s pretty simple, he’s committed 100%, where I believe in 2010 he was not. Al Saunders and Bob Bratkowski operate a very similar scheme. And at the least you have to admit it is a vertical, or “Air Coryell” scheme. Which is what Brat ran as well. After all he did learn offense at San Diego from Don Coryell. He then coached under Schottenheimer at KC, and Vermeil and Martz at ST Louis, and then Vermeil at KC. So he has always been involved in with vertical passing attacks, that could be run heavy as well. THen you look at the head coahces involved. Jackson, is from Lewis’ tree, Lewis is from Cowher’s, and they all are from SChottenheimer’s. Let’s imagine the scheme is altogether different. THen how did Brat have such sucess from 2004-2006. His shceme was fine then. I know that the fans new an off tackle run before they seen it, and so did defenses. But that was the case in 2005 too. THat’s what good running teams do, they don’t fool you, they beat you up and run over you.

  9. By bengalsfan339 on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

    Whalen must be the plan going forward if Simpson becomes “unavailable” Lest we forget they found how much pot in his home. They cut a serviceable db to keep Whalen on the roster. Shame we let Evan Mathis get away. Hes been a beast this year

  10. By mwindle1973 on Nov 30, 2011 | Reply

    I’m so pleased with the folks at NFL.com right now. I’ve tried over and over to watch the free game rewind online video of this last Sunday’s game. This is the second time this season I haven’t gotten a chance to try and watch it until after the monday night game. Both times it says I have to wait until the live telecast (monday night) is over. But this is Wednesday. After midnight tonight it’s no longer available. Good thing I seen it in person. But I like to watch the playback on video, you see some things you don’t see in person, just like you see things in person you don’t see on TV. In the team forum I see this complaint over and over. If you don’t watch it before the Monday night game your screwed. Perhaps the team could contact the NFL on behalf of their fans. Sherrod Brown is petitioning the FCC on blackouts. http://www.fox19.com/story/16160443/senator-brown-wants-all-nfl-blackouts-lifted His point being that in the case of Cincy, tax payers pay for the stadium then don’t get to see the games. The rule is antiquated. Most of the money comes from TV. The rule doesn’t help sell tickets, and really never has.

  11. By changeup39 on Dec 1, 2011 | Reply

    I think we need a bit larger of a sample size before we determine Palmer a “success” for Oakland. He hasn’t played against a quality team yet, and as teams figure out his tendencies in the new offense, much could very likely change. The Bears with Jay Cutler probably would have beaten Oakland soundly — Oakland scored only 1 touchdown, despite all the Hanie turnovers. Minnesota (without Adrian Peterson for most of that game) arguably does not have a healthy NFL starting-caliber cornerback on their team. True, Palmer has not shown the sharp decline we were exposed to in Cincinnati, but I think its a bit too early at this time to claim that he’s a back to being a great quarterback or a league star. Let’s re-visit this discussion at the end of the regular season when he plays against some legitimate competition.

  12. By mwindle1973 on Dec 1, 2011 | Reply

    @Hobson: I think I believe you are pretty close to spot on with the draft picks. We needed to go CB in the first round the last 2 years, but other needs were there. And you can’t knock the picks we made one bit. It’s due. That’s assuming as with all picks, that there is a player at that position whose value is close to where we are picking. But we need a CB, WR, G early. As you say you have to keep feeding the Dline machine, draft a DE matbe a DT too. Now RB, I think you could find a good one later, or in free agency. They are really cheap anymore. I think we need to go TE again, based on how succesful our 2 TE look is. But a RB would be good too. So with the first 3 rounds i say CB first then in no order, WR, G, TE or RB, & DE. But really we always have to look for a pass rusher, especially one like Pollock/Boulware/Von Miller. A guy that can stand up or put his hand down. Even if he’s a project. And depending on if we sign SImpson, and/or Caldwell or not, and what we think of Armon Binns we may need 2 WRs. And a safety depending on the evaluations of Mays, Crocker & Wilson as to whether we could use more depth. But maybe in the mid to late rounds. I’m wondering if you can give a rundown at some point on players whose contracts are expiring? Surely we will have to let some go, because of $$. Plus we are already young, and I think in some areas we will look to improve if we can.

  13. By bengalpirate on Dec 1, 2011 | Reply

    007, I can’t offer you advice on the cursing, but I’m extremely loud and very rarely do I ever curse, at the game and in my personal life. I have to really get PO’ed to drop an F-bomb, but the security folks at the games seem to react quickly to those types of words. In my opinion, the security folks are a mixed bag and sometimes they react more to complaints before investigating whether there is an actual issue. At the Steelers game last year for Monday Night Football, I found myself in a very unusual position of defending 4 Steelers fans who were loud, but not really a problem, against a fair weather Bengals “fan” who I had never seen in my section, who registered a complaint again the Steelers fan with security. I almost got into it with the Bengals’ “fan” and really didn’t like defending the Steelers fans, but the guy was not a real fan, but a real jerk. It varies from section to section, but sometimes security over-reacts and acts like getting too loud is a problem. I agree with you though, that if getting loud in support of your team is a security problem, then the problem probably lies with the fans who complain to security about loud, loyal Bengals fans. Any Bengals fans who complain about non-cursing, loud fans, should just stay home. Hope you make it back to another game soon. Who Dey!!!

  14. By bengalpirate on Dec 1, 2011 | Reply

    Geoff, I think I believe, item by item that: I have to disagree with you on the Jay Gruden to Jacksonville scenario, mainly because of the potential sale of the Jags to Shahid Khan. I think Khan, if the league approves the sale, will bring in his own GM and Jeff Fisher is probably a better fit in JAX. Geno Atkins – totally agree. Great pick and his motor powers the D. Dalton & Green – agree. Great chemistry with no reality TV divas. Gresham – agree. TE with good blocking and catches like a WR. Nugent – great free agent pickup with local roots and ties. The Draft – agree. Maybe swap WR with CB on best player at pick. Carson – agree. Still love him for the great years he played here and wish he had the WRs and TEs that Dalton has, without all the soap opera drama. I also think I believe that while Jerome Simpson is a great athlete, he still kills us with inconsistency and numerous mental mistakes. That is why, depending on the quality of the draft, I would possibly take the best WR avaiable. With another stud WR, then they can’t double up AJ, especially with Gresham in the mix. Finally, I think I believe….. Who Dey!!!

  15. By tepidfan31 on Dec 1, 2011 | Reply

    I believe that a win vs. the Steelers is a must, if we have hopes for the playoffs. The Jets schedule is mush easier than ours and expect that they will be 10 and 6. Don’t know if we finish 10 and 6 whether we make it or they do. Regardless, I don’t believe that either or us will make it to the super bowl. I think we are a year away for making a run. So where do we need to improve? My take is that QB pressure is a must to beat QBs like Brady, Rogers, and Brees. Can we get enough next year with our DL? Then, we need shut-down corners. I think Hall is one, but will Jones be one, or do we need one? Our safteys seem to be average, especially in coverage, can we find one in FA, Trade, or the draft? I don’t believe Brown would shell out enough to get an all pro type by trade or FA. Offensively, we may need a deep threat WR. The OL needs review. Williams is really getting old, Livings has simply been adequate, and how well has Andre done in pass protection. If not too hot, why not move him to guard and draft a RT. Regardless, I think that we need two OLmen in the draft or otherwise. Finally, RB. Benson is a FA, and Scott hasn’t realized the potential that everyone thought he had. So, what do we do? I think the other positions are pretty well set, especially with the returnees from the IR. But defending the pass is an absolute MUST!

  16. By tepidfan31 on Dec 1, 2011 | Reply

    Just another thought. I see Andy Dalton as a Joe Montana clone. Also, he has the intellect and poise of Payton Manning. Next year and beyond I believe that we will be watching an All Pro QB. Find a guy like him somewhere in the draft and develop him. As we have seen, lose your QB, and the season goes down the drain.

  17. By bengalpirate on Dec 1, 2011 | Reply

    One more thing and I’ll shut my big mouth for awhile. Geoff in your response to 007, you said that Bengals fan always come through in the crunch. Although I agree with that and that there is a core group of 35-40K dedicated Bengals fans, sometimes by the 4th quarter that is not always enough. Especially like against the Steelers a few weeks ago. We got behind early and by the time the 4th quarter rolled around, the 15-25K Steelers fans had almost as much crowd noise on defense than we had. As I mentioned before in another blog, we need a 12th man type crowd that is loud from the 1st quarter thru the 4th quarter. Unfortunately, many folks have given up their season tickets over the last few years, but hopefully we can fill the stadium for the last 3 home games, as we try to make it into the playoffs and playoff victories. If we ever get that 12th man/woman into the stadium on a dedicated basis, we can have winning seasons year-in and year-out. DEFENSE!!! Who Dey!!!

  18. By mwindle1973 on Dec 1, 2011 | Reply

    @bengalsfan339: I’m wondering like you what our salary cap situation is looking like. We don’t have to hold money for Palmer, but we did (or will soon) have to pay Andre Smith around $5.5M. And we have spent money on contracts related to injuries, etc. So I’m really curious too how much cap space we will have to sign our own free agents. I did a little research and found the following players have contracts that expire this season. Reggie Nelson, Bobbie Williams, Cedric Benson, Jerome Simpson, Manny Lawson, Frostee Rucker, Andre Caldwell, Pat Sims, Mike McGlyn, Anthony Collins, Adam Jones, Bo Scaife, Donald Lee, Mike Nuggent, Chris Pressley, Vincent Rey, Jeromy Miles, Nate Livings, Kelly Jennings, Dennis Roland, Jonathan Fanene, Gibril Wilson, Cedric Peerman, Dan Skuta & Brandon Johnson. That’s 25 players total. And 18 that are eiher starting or get significant playing time. And 2 that are key STs contirutors in Peerman and Miles. And obviously some of these guys are going to demand bigger contracts, and we won’t be able to do all of them. But if this list looks bad, it’s not as bad as it seems. A big core of the team is signed for 2012 and beyond. Guys like Green, Dalton, Dunlap, Gresham, Whitworth, Peko & Hall, and more.

  19. By jamison007 on Dec 1, 2011 | Reply

    @bengalpirate-definitely agree with your points. I will definitely be sure to lose the swear words and just be loud when the D takes the field against Baltimore. Thanks for the post. Who Dey!

  20. By bengalsfan339 on Dec 2, 2011 | Reply

    dont quote me cause its been over a week, but I’m thinking they’ve got 17 million in this year money. Who wouldnt be more encouraged to resing when they can get big bucks up front, not years down the line. I’m thinking I saw it on pro football focus, but Hobs here can probably get us a better accurate #

  21. By mwindle1973 on Dec 3, 2011 | Reply

    I think I believe I’m mighty nervous about Nate Clements being injured. Even if he plays he’s banged up. We are going to be stretched thin if he isn’t available. I think we really have to control this game offensively if he is out or physically limited. Remember Jones is already physically limited on the other side. We have to get points up early, keep a TOP edge, and win the field position battle. Then it would really help to win the turnover battle. In otherwords this may be a game where we have to take some pressure off the D and let them play with a lead. They have been a rock in all our 2nd half comebacks.

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