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Notes and quotes

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on December 4, 2011 – 9:25 am

A.J. Green

PITTSBURGH — With five games left and already at 745 yards, wide receiver A.J. Green looks to be a lock to break Cris Collinsworth’s 30-year-old rookie club record of 1,009 and to become the first NFL rookie to grab 1,000 yards in five years since Marques Colston.

He’s just 122 yards from the Bengals’ best rookie year in 17 years when Darnay Scott went for 866 and with 74.5 yards per game, he’ll pass the great Isaac Curtis (843) against Houston at Paul Brown Stadium next week, Eddie Brown (942) the week after in St. Louis and Collinsworth against Arizona on Christmas Eve at PBS.

It’s amazing given that Green is doing it with a rookie quarterback and neither had access to coaching or practice until training camp. Collinsworth had both, as well as an 11-year veteran in Ken Anderson’s MVP season. Curtis had Anderson in his third season. Brown had Boomer Esiason in his second season. Scott did most of his damage in Jeff Blake’s first nine starts, but it was Blake’s third year in offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet’s system.

So in any era it has been tough for even the great receivers to make the jump to the NFL so quickly. A few reasons why Green is an exception from offensive coordinator Jay Gruden:

“He’s got a good feel for the game. And he takes a lot of pride in work,” Gruden last week of Green. “When you’ve got a guy with the demeanor that he has and a guy willing to work hard to get better every day and has the talent he has, he’s got all the makings to be one of the great receivers to play.”

While most everyone believes that Gruden has kept his versatile scheme relatively vanilla for the kids, Gruden has enormous confidence in them.

“They’re great players, that’s why,” Gruden said. “There’s a lot of plays you can run for those guys to be successful. Andy’s a great competitor. He knows what he likes; he knows what plays work against certain things. And of course A.J. is one of the most talented people around.

“It’s exciting to have those two guys here. To know they’re going to be here for a while is even more exciting. And to know what type of people they are makes it even more fun to come to work. That’s the thing about those two guys: you know you’re going to get the best out of them every day and they’re going to learn and be pleasant and want to learn and want to improve.”

Gruden sees Green having no shot of becoming a diva receiver. This isn’t a guy who is huffing and puffing after every series about not getting the ball.

“You have to talk to him and ask him what he likes; he’s not going to tell you,” Gruden said. “He just wants to win and he’s going to do what he’s asked to do and when the game is over he’s going to give it all he’s got. Usually when the game’s over, I’ll be kicking myself as the coordinator, ‘Why didn’t we go to him more often?’ We’ve got other good players. It’s worked out so far.”

If Green ever does start calling for the ball, “he’ll probably have a reason,” Gruden said with a laugh.

But that’s not to say Gruden and receivers coach James Urban aren’t coaching up Green. There are things he needs to develop. He’ll get a big test Sunday against Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, a guy Gruden calls one of the league’s best technicians that exploits bad routes.

“Sometimes his releases might be too quick, or too predictable, or he doesn’t work the corner at all. He rounds (some routes) or he’s short on some depths,” Gruden said. “Just a little too impatient. He has to get open so quick and maybe the ball’s not there by a second but the quarterback isn’t ready to throw it and the corner closes in on him. Timing and working the corner is every bit as important as athleticism and talent.

“Sometimes you really have to be patient, work the corner, push him up to a certain depth, use your head, use your shoulders. Stick him. Be physical some times.”

Gruden admits that anybody with that much natural ability can get away with bad habits but like he said, “He still runs good routes; he can get a lot better. That’s all I’m saying.”

Which is a bit frightening.

UP FRONT TALK: Look at how much defensive tackle Geno Atkins has improved over his rookie season. He’s leading all NFL defensive tackles in sacks with 6.5, but line coach Jay Hayes says his biggest improvement has come stopping the run.

“He’s just learning the little intricacies of playing it, studying it and using what he has to his advantage,” Hayes said. “His strength, his quickness, his leverage, his foot speed. He understands the game very well. When you point out to him what to do when they do this, he gets it.”

Although Frostee Rucker has moved ahead of Michael Johnson at right end on the depth chart, Hayes is hesitant to call him the starter because he says Rucker is the starter in base and Johnson is the starter in nickel and the individual game depends on who plays the most. But with nickel rusher Carlos Dunlap out again this Sunday against the Steelers, both figure to get a lot of snaps in nickel because Rucker can play left end and inside on nickel if need be. Plus, Johnson can stand up on some snaps.

In his sixth season, Rucker is having a career year with four sacks, more than he had combined in his five previous seasons. Besides the maturity Hayes talks about, there is the health former Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton talks about. By playing Sunday, it will tie his career high for games played at 12.

Thornton, Rucker’s mentor breaking in, also talks about trust gaining him more snaps.

“Veteran coaches like veteran players,” Thornton said. “You have to show them you can stay healthy and be reliable and that takes time. He’s just matured.”

NOT A SNAP: Even though former Browns long snapper Ryan Pontbriand’s rolled field-goal snap was a huge factor last week in the Bengals 23-20 victory, Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons couldn’t help but have pangs of sympathy for him.

Simmons has seen it all too often. Solid performers for years, they inexplicably get the yips. Pontbriand had blown a couple before last Sunday, including one on what would have been a game-winning chip shot.

Simmons saw it happen with the Bengals’ own Brad St. Louis in 2009, his 10th season in the league. He says for special-teamers, there is no such thing as an incomplete pass in first down.

“Every down,” he says, “is fourth down.”

He doesn’t expect any meltdowns from the man that has replaced St. Louis so seamlessly. Clark Harris has had 347 straight successful snaps since he arrived.

“It’s a little different with Clark. He’s played in the league as a tight end,” Simmons said.

And…

“He’s a happy-go-lucky guy.”


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 19 Comments »


19 Responses to “Notes and quotes”

  1. By tepidfan31 on Dec 4, 2011 | Reply

    This team is too stupid; you can’t make stupid mistakes and expect to win against the better teams. Can’t get a TD, stupid false start. Cant’t get a FG, stupid missed assignment. I turned it off; hope they get their act together and win, but I can’t watch it anymore.

  2. By tepidfan31 on Dec 4, 2011 | Reply

    I am glad I stopped watching when it was 0-0. Now, sorry to be negative, but the Bengal’s record of 7 and 5 is not what it appears. Their 7 wins came against teams with a combined record of 24 and 48 (take out Indy it is 24 and 36). The only team with a winning record is Tenn., who has been playing better than when the Bengals met them. We have not beaten a good team yet. Yes, there were injuries, but most teams have them. Before this Steeler disaster and all the stupid “Bungle” mistakes, I felt that we were a year away, simply needing quality help at DB and the OL. Again, you have to consider that the Bengals had a very easy schedule this year; and that it will be much tougher next year. Now, I wonder if a “next year” will ever come; every year there is false hope; for it seems that losing is in the Bengal’s DNA.

  3. By ljubi22 on Dec 5, 2011 | Reply

    Can someone please send Marvin Lewis the memo that Brandon Tate was cut from New England for a reason. Andrew Hawkins is a play-maker and needs to be the returner, the Bengals need to get him touches!

  4. By mwindle1973 on Dec 5, 2011 | Reply

    I know it’s a tough loss to swallow, but I’m going to what and see how the young lads react before I form an opinion about this loss. I feel like Zim had a nice 3-3-5 package he designed for the Steelers spread packages. But we let him down by not stopping the run. He was obviously planning on forcing them to throw. It didn’t get talked about, but that is one of the most creative solutions to an injury riddled D that I have ever seen. We had 3 down lineman, 3 LBs, with Taylor Mays playing WILL and Michael Johnson playing SAM, then Brandon Johnson at MIKE. Crocker was in the slot, with Jones and Jennings on the outside, and Wilson and Nelson in double high. So in formation we were a 3-3-5, but in personnel we had 3 Dlineman, 2 LBs, 2 CBs, and 4 Safeties. I know this, as coaches they have done a phenomenal job this season. From the position coaches up to Zim and Gruden and on to Lewis, without them I think this could’ve been another top 10 draft pick in April season. We are the youngest team in the AFC, and even though we never planned to rebuild, that’s where we are at. To me we’ve already made great progress, we are beat up in the secondary, and the DLine is as well to a lesser extent. And we do not have the roster in this season to make up for it.

  5. By jpmcgee on Dec 5, 2011 | Reply

    Wow, tepidfan31. You stopped watching while it was still 0-0? Tepid fan, indeed. Quite frankly, Bengaldom seems to be rife with them. You get one lousy performance and the sky has fallen. Even next year is doomed! Look, these kinds of games happen to teams. They just do. Ask the Steelers after Week 1 in Baltimore (an identical 35-7 rout, no less). Looking back on it 12 weeks later, did that game tell us anything about how good or bad the Ravens or Steelers were? Not even close. The true test is going to be how this team responds to laying an egg like this. The Steelers, albeit against a lesser team, came back home to stomp the Seahawks 24-0. How will the Bengals fare coming back home to play Houston? Should be interesting, but it’ll tell us a lot about what kind of team we have.

  6. By 303bengalguy on Dec 6, 2011 | Reply

    @ljubi22 – My thoughts exactly! Sure Tate has a return TD, but A) Cosby is doing very well out here in Denver for the Broncos, and B) Hawkins is a (speedy and shifty) playmaker indeed and can also play WR. If Tate is a 1 trick pony (not even sniffing the field as a supposed field stretching WR) then we’re wasting a roster spot IMO. I don’t see a whole lot of shiftiness out of Tate, just straight forward speed and not a lot of good decision making… maybe I’m wrong but I am not a fan.

  7. By bengalpirate on Dec 6, 2011 | Reply

    It took me awhile to digest this game and talk about a “Bad Day at Black Rock” for the Bengals, so much so that I still have some heartburn from the game. I knew, as well as many others suspected, that the team was due for a letdown after being in every other game this year, but how quickly thing can go sour. In reviewing the game and the week leading up to it, it is almost as if we set ourselves up for the big fall from grace. For me, it starts with Big Ben, in almost a condescending way, stating that Andy Dalton should be Rookie of the Year. Although Dalton didn’t seem to bite on this ploy, it basically set him up for failure and challenged the Pittsburgh defense to shut down the “Rookie of the Year,” which they did quite admirably. This game it looks like they targeted Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, where Simpson got involved in an altercation early on that caused off-setting penalties and maybe it is just coincidence, but he never caught a pass the rest of the game. Andre said that Dick LeBeau changed things up on defense that confused them, but why didn’t Andre and the coaches quickly adjust to LeBeau’s new wrinkles? Finally, after listening to many of the local and national media types jump on the Andy Dalton/Bengals bandwagon, with Dalton as the next Joe Montana; as many had already anointed him as such, no wonder we fell flat on our faces. I love the Dalton Gang, but please come talk to me when they are more mature and ready to face the pressures of the mind games and physicality of the Steelers and Ravens’ of the league and go win a Super Bowl.

  8. By mwindle1973 on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    Andy Dalton is the favorite of a lot of media people for Rookie of the Year. And really it depends on how many games he wins. Newton has better numbers generally but he’s not even close in victories. Green would be the only other guy in the discussion. And also Von Miller. But I’m not sure his numbers really hold up to the other 3. What the other 3 are doing would win the award in most any other year.

  9. By bengalpirate on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    First Rookie of the Year accolades from Big Ben during the season and others making noise about the next Joe Montana. Now Gary Kubiak drawing comparisons of Andy Dalton to Brett Favre??? In my world, why don’t we just let Andy Dalton play out his first NFL season before we decide who he is most like. I say we let Andy Dalton play like Andy Dalton and leave it at that. If this is the kind of things that opposing coaches are using to inspire their defenses, then so be it, but at the end of the day, I think Andy Dalton would prefer to get compared to……….Andy Dalton!!! Make your own mark Andy and if Pro Bowl, All-Pro, MVP, Hall of Fame honors are earned, then we can talk about comparisons, but for now play as yourself, not someone else. Who Dey!!!

  10. By mwindle1973 on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    @bengalpirate: Praising Dalton is not a tactic by opposing Qbs and coaches to make us get a big head and lose the game. They are being asked what they think of Dalton by the Cincy media. He’s having one of the biggest rookie seasons ever. And I think more than anything it’s his playing. I don’t say he plays good for a rookie. He just plays good. If he played like a rookie, he’d have twice as many ints. Plus it’s not just Dalton, all really good QBs, or players for that matter get talked about in pre game news conferences. If we play the COlts we are asked what it’s like to play against Peyton Manning, or the season they asked how it felt not to. Or what it’s like to face Dwight Freeney. Marvin Lewis praised Brown’s rookie Phil Taylor before week 1’s game witht the Brown’s and Taylor had yet to play a regular season game. That’s what other coaches and teams do is praise the players they are aksed about. Unless they have no class and want to give the other team extra motivation to win.

  11. By mwindle1973 on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    Well after a game where we showed the worst gap integrity of the season, we follow it up with a game where our D’s gap integrity is probably the most important part of winning. The key matchup should be ‘Cincy D vs Discipline’. The next key is ‘Oline vs Play Recognition’. Stuff the run and we could win this one early. Don’t stuff it and we could be sitting Dalton in the 4th qtr again.

  12. By bengalpirate on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    mwindle1973: Yeah, that does go on as far QBs and coaches praising other players and only dumb or arrogant players and coaches say players are lousy, or how they will dominate them. However, I think the main point I’m trying to make here, is that we are getting way ahead of ourselves when we start comparing Andy Dalton to Montana, Favre and any other great QBs. He’s played only 12 NFL games and while he is having a great year for a rookie QB, he is still a rookie with no playoff wins under his belt. Also, in this “small market” city, we call Cincinnati, the reality of the current frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year, is still probably the media favorite, hi-publicity guy, Cam Newton. Even though he has fewer victories than Dalton, he probably wins Rookie of the Year because of who he is. I’m just sayin’ that Windy, as my humble opinion. I really want Dalton to win it, as if he does, maybe that means we win a playoff game or two. Knock on big time wood!!!! :-) Who Dey!!!

  13. By mwindle1973 on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    You know I’ve been trying to figure out why the Oline is so confused on blocking assignments this year. I thought Cook had mastered this. But then I realized that the C calls out adjustments to the line, but the QB is the boss out there. And often when we faced confusing Ds, Palmer was calling out the blocks. And we also used the cadance timing to reveal more about who was coming and who wasn’t. Then he would call out a blocking adjustment, audible, or hot route. Dalton’s getting some of this, but he hasn’t seen enough yet to know when a blitzer is real or when he’s going to back out into coverage always. And we aren’t fast enough at the LOS to allow for cadance games. These are rookie things with Dalton, and youth in general for the offense. These are the type of things that will take time to improve. The more Dalton plays the more he’ll see these things and know what he is seeing. And also the more the whole game will slow down for him. If he didn’t improve a bit, he’d still be a slitghly better than average QB. But I really think in the next year to two he is going to be something special. He has some nice physical skills, he fundamentally sound all the way through, physically and mentally. He is so dedicated to his craft, egoless, and so smart, that these things, combined with his physical skills, will lead him to being an elite QB. I know this Dan Marino likes him a lot. He says Dalton is the best young QB to come into the league in the last several years.

  14. By mwindle1973 on Dec 8, 2011 | Reply

    Interesting draft fact…we had the chance to draft Bruce Gradkowski in 2006 with the 193rd pick (6th round), and passed him up for Reggie McNeal. Grad was taking next at 194th by the Bucs and the Gruden brothers. And now 5 years later he ends up here with us anyway and with one of the Gruden brothers. Funny how things work out. On another note, I’m very curious who the players Zimmer meant he would sit more if they didn’t stop giving up so many catches. Obviously not Jones, Nelson or Clements. But definitely Jennings. Crocker? Maybe. Maybe Wilson, he’s in on some pass packages? That’s all the DBs playing coverage right now. He could’ve had meant LBs too. But who? Howard’s been good, BJohnson has been pretty solid too. Maualuga on third down maybe? Hard to figure besides Jennings, and possibly Crocker. Crocker has been missing tackles in run support too. But I don’t know if he’s really making a lot of mistakes or if he’s just always coming in on the tail end of plays to cover someone else’s mistake and not always suceeding. Like when he came diving out of nowhere to hitch a three yard ride into the endzone on Mendenhall’s hips on the 1st TD @Pit last week, only to find Vincent Rey had abandoned his gap and wasn’t there to stop the forward motion. In reality Crocker was on the other side of the line at the begining of the play, he should’ve been sealed out of the play, and Rey should’ve stayed in the gap and made the stop. So like I said it’s hard to judge if he’s making a lot of mistakes, or just trying to cover others’ mistakes.

  15. By mwindle1973 on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    After looking back at several Texans games throught the week and reading the Bengals.com media panel predictions, I have some thoughts of my own that weren’t mentioned. I really think the biggest key to this game is playing with a lead. What the Texans do is blitzkrieg you, they try to get pts up early. Then when they have a 10-14 pt lead they sit on it and run the ball with an occasional play action pass to try to put more pts on the board and keep the D honest. If they get in this mode, they are matching their biggest strength to our biggest weakness. How do we stop the blitzkrieg? Like Hobs said, limit the run early. They put points up early by coming out running and then adding in the play action as the D struggles to stop the run. Once it gets going it’s hard to stop. So limit it early in the game and don’t allow pts either. Part 2 Hobs alluded to as well, Oline has to win in the trenches early and let us get some pts on the board. They aren’t built to come from behind. With Schaub & Johnson out, they really have problems if they can’t run and they are behind.

  16. By mwindle1973 on Dec 10, 2011 | Reply

    The Texans are 3-3 against teams above .500 (1-2 on the road), with loses to the Ravens, Raiders@home & Saints. We are 1-5 against teams above .500 (1-3 road), with loses away loses to the Broncos, Ravens & Steelers, and home loses to the 49ers & Steelers by a combined 12 pts. Texans opponents over .500 are a combined 49-24(.671), 3 of 6 games away. Bengals opponents over .500 are a combined 53-21(.716), 4 of 6 games away. Bengals have lost Hall & Sims for the season, Dunlap is out and we have some other key guys playing but banged up. Texans are on their 3rd string QB, their best WR is out, and they have a couple defenders banged up but playing. All in all it seems this is a pretty even matchup, with home field advantage maybe being the difference here.

  17. By mwindle1973 on Dec 11, 2011 | Reply

    Young teams are frustrating. And you have to get the other team off the field at the end or run them out of time. A 20+ yard QB scamper deep into your territory just can’t happen. This is the 4th game that we could’ve had won just as easily as we lost. Denver, 49ers, 1st Pittsburgh game, and now the Texans. Throw in the Ravens loss and we have lost 5 games by a total of 22 pts. Well either way they have to consider it playoff time now. We have to win the last 3. We could get in at 9-7, but a lot would have to roll our way. The Jets won and will take our #6 spot. Tennessee lost, and Oakland is down 31-0 to GB, so they kept pace with us. Now if Chicago can take Denver out, the loss will be more workable. The Jets play @Phi, host the Giants (pretty much neutral site), and at Miami. And I really think it will come down to us the Jets and Titans giong for that last spot.

  18. By mwindle1973 on Dec 11, 2011 | Reply

    This team is young and they learn some lessons each week. SOmetimes they do enough things right or the other team does enough wrong that it grants us a W. SOmetimes it doesn’t work out that way. But still I know I feel good no matter what happens the rest of the way. Coming into the season we were projected by the media to win anywhere from 2-6 games. They’ve exceeded that and will likely add more. I don’t feel like they find a way to lose like the old team. I think they are just young, and they need to learn still to have discipline and execute your assignment on every single play, not just 90% of them. ANd we are going into a good place this offseason. These guys will grow and we will add more great talent.

  19. By aswad60 on Dec 12, 2011 | Reply

    This is just the rantings of a frustrated and superstitous fan… but as much as I love what Andy Dalton has done this year on the field, he is terrible on the website. The Bengals are 1-5 with Dalton’s image gracing the upper right-hand corner of the team website. They were winning consistently when Maualuga’s photo was there. That has to be it. What else can explain how they lost these last four games? This team has been disciplined and opportunistic all year. But all of the sudden, brain fart penalties and balls bouncing the wrong way. The Bengals-Texans score should have been 33-13. Don’t give me excuses like, “They’re now facing better competition.” “They’re young and inexperienced.” Those don’t fly. It’s the website. Please put Maualuga’s photo back up so we can salvage what we can of the rest of the season! I only wish I had made this request a week earlier as I live in Houston, and have to hear the post-game analysis everywhere I turn. Geez.

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