Pulling The Trigger

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on January 9, 2012 – 9:23 am

Courtesy of Associated Press

Tim Tebow’s 316 passing yards in Sunday’s AFC Wild Card Game against the Steelers in the wake of Denver boss John Elway’s “Pull The Trigger” plea earlier in the week may be a harbinger for Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton’s sophomore season.

While Cincinnati lost six of its last nine games, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden often talked about the fine line between being careful with the ball and taking risks with it in order to make big plays. He even admitted there were times he wanted Dalton to take some chances rather than checking it down or throwing it away after his QB opted for the more conservative route.

First of all, Gruden should be named the NFL’s assistant coach of the year for getting an offense with a rookie QB and rookie No. 1 receiver to the playoffs without the benefit of OTAs. He did it by keeping things sane, simple and vanilla for Dalton. And it is exactly what he had to do against a schedule that in those last nine games featured six against the top five defenses of Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Houston.

But even before Tebow stunned Charles Richard LeBeau and his Steelers, Gruden showed signs on Saturday he was beginning to take the wraps off Dalton. In a road playoff game he had him throwing 18 times in the first half and it worked for the most part. If not for J.J. Watt’s vertical show and a missed field goal, he easily could have walked out of there with a 13-10 halftime lead against the NFL’s second-ranked defense.

But what Tebow did to the Steelers No. 1 defense is mind-boggling. Here is a guy that had a worst completion percentage this season than Akili Smith had as a rookie (52-45) completing four throws of at least 40 yards against a defense that allowed just two plus-40s all year.

Dalton and A.J. Green had one of those against the Steelers, a 43-yarder in the 35-7 loss in Pittsburgh. That, their 36-yard TD connection in the first game, and a 25-yard throw to Andrew Hawkins were the only balls of at least 20 yards caught by the Bengals wide receivers in two games against Pittsburgh.

Of course, Tebow was going up against a much more diminished defense than Dalton. On Sunday the Steelers didn’t have safety Ryan Clark all day and defensive linemen Casey Hampton and Brett Keisel for much of it.

And maybe the biggest reason of all the Broncos were able to chuck it is that they ran it for 131 yards (Tebow only had 50 of them) even with the Steelers daring Tebow to beat them. Until the Bengals get their running game straightened away, Dalton won’t be able to do much more than he has in the AFC North.

There is that one big looming question. If Gruden gets the head coaching job in Jacksonville (and that is looking like a longshot), what happens to Dalton’s development? Do they promote from within? Do they keep Gruden’s West Coast offense?

But what we do know is that, at least for one day, pulling the trigger paid off. With 17 games under his belt and after watching what Tebow did to their rival, you know Dalton and his coaches must have an itchy finger.

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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “Pulling The Trigger”

  1. By tepidfan31 on Jan 9, 2012 | Reply

    Steeler/Bronco Game
    Two big surprises: The Steelers did not have a pass rush and the Broncos did. So, who wins!

  2. By mwindle1973 on Jan 9, 2012 | Reply

    Last offseason we were at a crossroads. This offseason we are at a five points (a point where 3 roads cross). And we have several choices of which direction to take this team. And the road we choose this time will determine the direction of this team for the next 2-4 years. We are certainly in a position if we wanted to just let contracts expire and go for a total rebuild with young players across the board. But we certianly could easily take this defense over the top too. We could say the defense does well enough let’s try to hold par there and build an offensive machine. We could continue to take the long road and sign some of our own, sign some free agents, and draft for need on both sides of the ball. I imagine that we will have an easier time attracting free agents this year as well. We have 24 players who wil be free agents of some sort. We have 9 picks, plus may get a compensatory pick for JJoe. We have very few big contracts. So we can sign the people we want back, replace some we don’t want in free agency, and then draft in some fresh talent. It will all begin with player evalutions. It will be interesting to see where we stand after that point.

  3. By mwindle1973 on Jan 10, 2012 | Reply

    Nice article on the Freezer Bowl Hobson! I had just turned 8 in December and had been watching football for longer than I can remember. But I rember this as the year I feel in love with football. And hindsight reveals most likely why. This is not only the anniversary of the Freezer Bowl, but The Catch as well. And the Epic in Miami was 8 days before. 3 of the most notable NFL playoff games ever played in a 8 day span! The Super Bowl that followed 2 weeks later is notable for being the start of the 49ers dynasty. It also ranks as the mosted watched Super Bowl in the US, and 4th most watched broadcast of all time in the US. Plus it’s considered one of the better Super Bowls played. Often ranks in some of the top 10 super bowl rankings the media does. A lot of good NFL history made in those 22 days.

  4. By mwindle1973 on Jan 11, 2012 | Reply

    Thank the football gods that Gruden is staying! Now keep our fingers crossed with Zimmer. Although, I think that there are people that could replace Zimmer and keep the same kind of system. After all the system is not completely Zimmer’s. Lewis offers a lot of direction over how the O & D are put together. The obvious is Kevin Coyle, who could just carry on the current scheme, or enter his 3-4 influences into the picture. But you have Jack Del Rio too, who currently is not viewed very well. But when he was a DC before he was a HC, he was one of the best. And I think he would be an excellent fit to run the D under Lewis.

  5. By mwindle1973 on Jan 11, 2012 | Reply

    Jacksonville hired Atlanta OC Mike Mularkey as their new HC. I bet Brat, now the Falcons QB coach, will be the new OC. Hard to tell, but I still feel like at some point he will get another shot. He’s been an OC twice and both times he produced top 10 offenses. It’s obvious with Lewis’ connections to Mike Smith, that he gave Brat a good reference for QB coach job, and will likely do the same for the OC job. Brat is not held in high regard amongst fans and some media. But there is still regard for him in some NFL circles. And the Falcons have the type of roster that would fit his schemes.

  6. By overthroensamoan on Jan 12, 2012 | Reply

    This team has a 3 glaring problems. 1. They just can’t consistently run the ball. They must use one of those first rounders on DeCastro if he falls and then draft another G a little later as well. The only other option I see with the current roster is resign Collins make him your everydown T and move A Smith inside. Just can’t see that happen though. 2. The secondary is a mess. Crocker surely is gone, Nelson is OK, Hall who knows, Pacman a nicklebacker at best, Clements solid but nothing special, Ghee a bust, Jennings average at best and Mays ????. Maybe Janoris Jenkins will still be available. 3. A legit #2 receiver. Simpson is clueless he lacks even the basic knowledge to be a legit WR. The guy simply does not understand coming back to the football. Caldwell see you later, Shipley please be healthy, Whalen a Shipley want to be, Hawkins could be a real steal. Come on Alshon Jeffery.

  7. By mwindle1973 on Jan 14, 2012 | Reply

    Well, it’ll be intersting to see if Zimmer lands a HC job or not. He deserves one, and I think he’ll be a really good coach. But it will be a big loss if we lose him. But you know it was reported last Feb that the Eagles wanted Kevin Coyle to be their new DC and that Brown denied permission for the interview. It would seem that it’s likely that Coyle was promised to be next in line as DC at that point. Otherwise I think they would’ve let him have his opportunity then. But I do think it’s an interesting situation with Jack Del Rio being available. For one he produced a #2 D in his only year as a DC in Carolina. But also because he shares a similiarity in D concepts with Lewis. They also have similar ideas on what it takes to succeed as a team in the NFL. Only time will tell. And hopefully Zimmer will be the guy running the D in 2012. But I got feeling he is going to get the job in Miami.

  8. By mwindle1973 on Jan 14, 2012 | Reply

    Well I was wrong about the Falcons giving Brat the OC job. Looks like the Jaguars hired him as OC instead. That’s a challenging situation there. It’ll be interesting to view his schemes from a different point of view though.

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