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Practice squad moves

Posted by bengalsweb on November 27, 2012 – 3:02 pm

The Bengals on Tuesday made the following practice squad moves:

» Signed TE/LS Bryce Davis, a rookie from Central Oklahoma. Davis originally signed with the Bengals as a college free agent on May 2. He played in all four preseason games, with two receptions for 13 yards and three special teams tackles. He was waived on Aug. 31, signed to the practice squad on Sept. 1 and released on Sept. 4.

» Signed T Dan Knapp, a rookie from Arizona State. Knapp entered the NFL on May 2 as a college free agent with Oakland. He played in all four Raiders preseason games and was waived on Oct. 31.

» Released rookie C Scott Wedige of Northern Illinois to the Arizona Cardinals, who signed him to their 53-player roster. Wedige had joined the Bengals practice squad on Nov. 6.

» Released rookie LB Ben Jacobs of Fresno State. Jacobs had joined the practice squad on Nov. 12.


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Bengals Move Onward — And Upward — Without Palmer

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 26, 2012 – 10:06 am

Maybe Bengals fans weren’t really booing Carson Palmer on Sunday.  Perhaps the sound that echoed throughout Paul Brown Stadium every time that the Raiders quarterback took the field was, “Thank yoooouuuu.”

Thanks for two AFC North titles.  Thanks for two Pro Bowl seasons.  And most of all, thanks for unintentionally helping the Bengals by leaving.

“Right now we’re a better team without him and that’s just point blank period,” said safety Chris Crocker.

Let’s consider where the Bengals are without Palmer.

Andy Dalton is seven years younger than his predecessor.  He’s scheduled to earn roughly $2.7 million dollars over the next two seasons while Palmer is set to make $28 million.  And following Sunday’s 34-10 win over the Raiders, Dalton’s career QB rating is identical to Palmer’s at 86.1.

“Andy’s played like a 10-year vet from the day that he stepped into this locker room,” said Crocker.

Additionally, Dalton’s regular season won/loss record as a starting quarterback is 15-13 (I give Dalton credit for a win in the Washington game when Mohamed Sanu officially started at QB).  Palmer’s record is 53-64, including 7-13 in Oakland.

The organization that Carson left is in the hunt to go the playoffs for the third time in four years, led by a defensive front four that pummeled him.  According to Brad Ellis, our stat man on the Bengals radio network, Cincinnati hit Palmer 13 times on Sunday.

“He didn’t have a chance,” said Crocker.  “Our guys up front really beat him up.  They hit him, they got around his feet, and it’s not easy to be a quarterback when you have to deal with that kind of duress.”

“Our front four is the best in the league,” said Manny Lawson.  “As a linebacker behind them, I’m rarely touched.”

The organization that Palmer currently plays for appears to be headed for its 8th double-digit loss season in the last 10 years.  Since their last playoff appearance following the 2002 season, the Raiders are 48-107 for a .310 winning percentage.  For sake of comparison, in the 1990s when the Bengals struggles were well-chronicled, their winning percentage was .327.

In exchange for Carson Palmer, the Bengals already have Dre Kirkpatrick and will receive Oakland’s second round pick in next year’s draft.  Through 11 games, the Raiders share the third-worst record in the NFL with Cleveland meaning it’s a decent bet that Cincinnati will end up with a selection near the top of the second round.

Here are a few of the players selected in the top five picks of the second round over the last five years:

Jordy Nelson, Brandon Flowers, Derek Wolfe, Colin Kaepernick, James Laurinatis, Courtney Upshaw, Brian Robiske, and Coby Fleener.

Oh yea, and Andy Dalton.

Palmer and Dalton had never talked to each other until Sunday.  Their first-ever conversation apparently did not last for very long.

“We talked for a little bit – nothing more than anybody else,” said Dalton.  “At least I can say that I’ve met him now.”

And outplayed him.

We all know that those “boos” weren’t really “thank yoooouuuus” on Sunday.  But maybe they’ve should have been.

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

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Hue keeps it light after his own reunion

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on November 26, 2012 – 8:30 am

Hue Jackson could have had a field day Sunday. Instead, he went on the field pregame at Paul Brown Stadium and chatted with any Raider that would have him and then watched his Bengals dismantle the team he took within five minutes of the playoffs last year.

After Sunday’s 34-10 victory over the team that fired him last year after one year as head coach, the Raiders look like they’re five minutes away from the second pick in the draft.

But Jackson kept it classy. After all, he’s reportedly already in the mix for the head coaching job at California. He knows people are going to say this was a sweet one for him.

“People will say this. I can look at it in my own mind and maybe felt that it was because I know those players and I’ve been in that organization with Coach (Al) Davis and the rest of the players and his son Mark (Davis),” he said after the game in the Bengals locker room. “But at the end of the day it was just another football game, a game we needed to win and I think our guys did a great job. Kudos to the offense, defense and special teams; it was a team win.”

Asked just exactly how good it felt, Jackson smiled.

“It does,” he said. “To win again and be 6-5 and going to San Diego, no question it does.”

Jackson said he had to separate the emotion from Sunday. It couldn’t be emotional, he said, even though those were his players out there and that was his quarterback he traded for with a first- and second-round pick that now, with the help of his firing, makes it one of the biggest steals in NFL history.

With Jackson molding him into his system on the fly last year, Palmer was 4-5 as the starter and if the Raiders held on to a fourth-quarter lead in the finale it would have been 5-5 and the playoffs. Now they’re 3-8.

“It couldn’t be (emotional),” Jackson said. “I think when I first start to see anybody, obviously a lot of old emotions and feelings come back and mainly what they were with Coach Davis. That’s a team that I know really well and I know the owner was someone that was very near and dear to me. Once we kick the ball off, it’s time to go play.”

Palmer hasn’t only been silent on his situation with the Bengals, but he hasn’t had much to say about Jackson in staying true to his desire to stay away from headlines and controversy.

The two did speak before and after Sunday’s game.

“I have a lot of respect for Carson. Carson’s a tremendous football player and that’s never going to change as far as I’m concerned,” Jackson said. “I wish him luck. I wanted to make sure him and his family are doing well and I’m sure we’ll run into each other somewhere down the line.”


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Hue Jackson Plans To Avoid Palmer Questions

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 20, 2012 – 12:18 pm

Hue Jackson is not taking any Carson Palmer questions this week.

In an effort to limit any potential sideshow caused by discussing his role in the trade that sent Palmer to Oakland last year, the former Raiders head coach is politely declining to address the subject.

But he is perfectly willing to discuss Al Davis.

Jackson was the last head coach that the legendary Raiders owner hired before he died of heart failure last October.  The day after Davis passed away, Jackson guided the Raiders to a 25-20 win in Houston.  On the final play of the game, Oakland’s Michael Huff intercepted Matt Schaub in the end zone to preserve the victory.  It’s referred to as the “Divine Interception” because the Raiders only had 10 defensive players on the field.

In an emotional address to the team in the locker room after the game, Jackson said that Al Davis had his hand on the ball.

“It’s still emotional,” said Jackson wiping a tear when I asked him about working for Davis this week.  “It was awesome…a great time.  I’ll never forget it.”

Al Davis was a polarizing figure nationally since he was involved in multiple lawsuits against the NFL and went through six head coaches in his final 10 years in Oakland.  But Jackson grew close to the man that gave him his first opportunity to be a head coach at any level.

“He was special and I don’t think people get that,” said Jackson.  “I know that he gets a bad rap about being what he was to the league and against the league or whatever that was, but he was a tremendous person.  Obviously he gave me my first opportunity, but more so than that, he taught me so much about the game and about people and how to deal with people.  I’ll never forget that.”

Jackson was fired in January by the Raiders new general manager Reggie McKenzie despite going 8-8 and tying for the best record in the AFC West in his only season as Oakland’s head coach.  After spending the previous 10 years working on the offensive side of the ball as an NFL assistant, including three years as Cincinnati’s wide receivers coach (2004-06), Jackson is broadening his expertise by working with the Bengals’ secondary and special teams.

“I’ve grown,” Jackson told me.  “Had I known some of the things I’ve learned from Mike (Zimmer), maybe I would still be in Oakland.  We had some things that we needed to shore up on the defensive side of the ball.  I’ve learned a lot and I’ve grown a lot in that area and in special teams.  It’s been a lot of fun.”

Jackson downplays his potential impact on this week’s game plan, but Zimmer says that the former Raiders head coach will be a valuable resource this week.

“He can tell us a lot about each player – their strengths and weaknesses, ways to rush against certain guys, what he feels their true playing speed is, and how they react to different situations,” said Zimmer.

Additionally, this week’s game is the second of three straight against teams from the AFC West.  In Hue’s two years in Oakland (he was offensive coordinator in 2010), the Raiders went 9-3 within that division.

“Obviously, I’ve played those teams and had some success when I was with Oakland, so every now and then somebody might ask a question or two, but our staff here does a good job,” said Jackson.  “We really work hard here at trying to understand what the opponents are trying to do.  Jay does a great job on offense, Zim does a great job on defense, and Darrin Simmons is spectacular on special teams.  Our groups are headed up by some very talented individuals and they come up with quality game plans for anybody that we play.”

But this game isn’t against just “anybody.”  For many Bengals fans, it is against Carson Palmer.  For Jackson, it is against the team that dismissed him after one season as head coach.  But Hue insists that it isn’t a game that he’s had circled on the calendar.

“Honestly, I know it’s all ‘coach talk’ but this is the next one on the schedule,” said Jackson.  “It just happens to be a place where I was at.  They’re trying to get a win and get off the slide a little bit, and we’re trying to keep winning.  It’s going to be a fun game.”

(You can hear the entire Hue Jackson interview on “Bengals Game Plan.”  Join Dave Lapham and me on Wednesday night from 6-8 on Fox Sports 1360 or FoxSports1360.com.)

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

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A Dangerous Combination

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 18, 2012 – 9:38 pm

On Saturday night at the team hotel in Kansas City, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden had a message for the Bengals.

“I told ‘em at a team meeting that momentum and confidence are a dangerous combination,” said Gruden.

Right now, the Bengals appear to have both.

Yes Kansas City is putrid (how do you get penalized multiple times in the same game for running out of bounds in punt coverage?), but Baltimore and Pittsburgh were only able to beat the Chiefs by three points apiece.  The Bengals throttled Kansas City 28-6, and have outscored their last two opponents by a total of 40 points.

“We’re starting to put it all together and it’s very important for us to continue to get better as the season goes on,” said Gruden.  “We’re starting to get healthy and guys are gaining momentum and confidence.  Right now we have that, but we have to keep it going.”

“The momentum is on our side now; we just have to keep it rolling,” said center Trevor Robinson.

After losing four straight games where the Bengals either had a lead or were within four points of the opponent in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati has put together back-to-back dominant performances on offense, defense, and special teams.

“It’s like a pro golfer,” said Marvin Lewis with a laugh.  “You can’t stay on the tour if you don’t do it time after time and round after round.  We know that it’s going to be a grind every Sunday and they’re getting good at grinding.”

“Winning in the NFL is definitely not easy, and we know that we can’t afford to make mistakes,” said Cedric Peerman.  “We just have to keep coming to work each and every day, be demanding, and be accountable to each other.  The rest will take care of itself.”

In their consecutive victories over the Giants and Chiefs, the Bengals have won the turnover battle five to one, scored touchdowns on seven of eight red zone possessions, and had seven sacks to only two for their opponents.

“We squandered a lot of games and weren’t playing up to our potential,” said BenJarvus Green-Ellis.  “We can still get better, and we just have to keep taking steps every day.”

“The key is how hard we work at practice,” said Domata Peko.  “You win games Wednesday through Saturday.  Then on Sunday you can run out, have fun, and make plays.”

Their confidence is growing.  And they’ll try to continue their momentum by beating the 3-7 Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

“You want to get hot in November and December and that’s what we’re pointing to,” said Coach Lewis.

“It feels good to be 5-5 but that’s just the beginning man,” said Peko.

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

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Monday quick hits: Rey steps it up vs. Giants

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on November 12, 2012 – 12:35 pm

While the Bengals are extolled for their finest all-around performance of the season in Sunday’s 31-13 victory over the Giants at Paul Brown Stadium, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga is hearing the same thing.

Gone were the defense’s wide open receivers across the middle and the missed tackles that turned three-yard gains into eight and nine. Maualuga’s game-high 12 tackles were of the sure variety and he made certain his defense covered close enough to the receiver that the Bengals virtually eliminated yards after catch.

While cornerback Leon Hall shadowed Giants leading receiver Victor Cruz for much of the game, he had some help in holding him to three catches for 26 yards.

“Everything was similar from last week’s offense to this week’s offense,” Maualuga said. “We knew that Victor Cruz was such a big part of their offense and is a great weapon. Most of our plays were based on doubling him and making sure where he aligned on every play. We wanted to execute him out of the game plan and then stop the run and I think we did a good job.”

THIRD DOWN THRILLS: Talk about what a win can do for the locker room. It doesn’t hurt the stat sheet, either.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton came into the game next to last in the NFL in third-down passing ahead of only Arizona’s John Skelton with a 57.6 passer rating in 32nd place. But three of Sunday’s four touchdown passes came on third down, launching him 10 spots to No. 22 with a 74. 3 that is a rung ahead of Colts rookie Andrew Luck.

With a 91.1 passer rating, Dalton is 11th in the league and his 18 touchdown passes are tied for fifth behind co-leaders Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees with 25.

With 820 yards receiving, Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green has moved into sixth in the NFL. Dalton is three TD passes away from eclipsing his rookie total and Green is 238 yards away from passing his rookie total.

RUN GAME: The Bengals are still looking for their first 100-yard rusher of the season after nine games, the longest drought to open a season since the Bengals didn’t get any 100-yard rushing game during the 1993-96 seasons. Running back Cedric Benson got the first 100-yard game of 2008 in the ninth game when his 104 yards against Jacksonville became the first of his 15 100-yarders with the Bengals.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis didn’t get his first 100-yard rusher until the eighth game of his first season, when Rudi Johnson got the first 100-yard game of his career with 101 in a PBS victory over Seattle in 2003.


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Dominant D-Line Makes Statement

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 12, 2012 – 9:29 am

The New York tabloids like to refer to the Giants as “Big Blue,” but this morning, quarterback Eli Manning is black and blue.

In Cincinnati’s stunning 31-13 win over New York, the Bengals nailed Manning 12 times (four sacks plus eight quarterback hits) while the Giants vaunted front four of Tuck, Pierre-Paul, Umenyiora, and Canty only got to Andy Dalton once (one QB hit and no sacks).

“They’ve got a good front – there’s no doubt,” said Michael Johnson.  “They’re the Super Bowl champs.  But we’re alright too.”

“They’ve earned the right to be considered one of the top D-lines in the league so when you’ve got those guys coming into your home, you want to play better than the competition,” said Wallace Gilberry.  “We took pride in it and made it an issue to come out and get the job done up front.”

Gilberry had one of the four sacks as he stripped Manning of the ball and then recovered the fumble in the fourth quarter.  After failing to record a sack for the first in 32 games last week against Peyton Manning and the Broncos, the Bengals were determined to get his younger brother on the ground.

“Last week was embarrassing for us – not touching the quarterback,” said Johnson.  “Today we played how we can play.  We played almost to our full capability.  We just have to continue to build on that every week.  That’s how we’re supposed to play.”

“One of the chips we had for this week was to out-play their defensive line,” said Carlos Dunlap.  “We knew we had the ability, but we just have to go out there and do it — don’t talk about it, be about it.”

Dunlap led the Bengals with 4.5 quarterback pressures, but all seven defensive linemen had impact plays.  Robert Geathers, Geno Atkins, Wallace Gilberry, and Domata Peko also delivered hits on Eli Manning, and Michael Johnson deflected a pass that was intercepted by Pat Sims.

“It felt great to be back,” said Sims who played for the first time since the 11th game of last season.  “I had fresh legs and I’m just thankful that coach gave me the opportunity to go out there and play.”

“When we get that rotation going and guys get in a groove and play how we know we can play, big things can happen,” said Johnson.  “We were able to force a lot of turnovers today, that’s always good, and we just want to build on it.”

If the Bengals defensive lineman is as dominant as it was against the Giants, climbing back into playoff contention is a possibility.

“Beating the Super Bowl champs and doing it how we did it today – ain’t no telling what he can do if we can keep playing like this every week,” said Sims.

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

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Esiason On Dalton And Leadership

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 8, 2012 – 3:17 pm

When Marvin Lewis publicly challenged Andy Dalton last week to become a more forceful leader on offense – even if it meant being a “jerk” – it brought to mind a former Bengals quarterback who had no problem stepping on toes when he saw fit – Boomer Esiason.

“I cringed a little bit when I heard that comment because everybody’s not made out to be that way,” Esiason told me.  “I know what Marvin is doing – he’s trying to raise the compete level.  He’s trying to agitate some guys and trying to put a spotlight on some guys.  Believe you me, if he didn’t think that Andy could handle it, he wouldn’t do it.  If Andy were a wilting flower, he would never do that to this kid.  He knows that Andy can handle it and knows that he can get to another level, and he knows that this kid just needs a little shot in the arm in terms of confidence by saying, ‘We believe in you.  You’re our guy and in this league, we’ve got to have the guy behind center in order to win, and I know that you can do it.’”

But the 1988 NFL MVP cautions Dalton not to suddenly attempt a personality change.

“When people try to be somebody they’re not, number one, they’re very uncomfortable,” said Esiason.  “And number two, it comes off wrong to the people that he’s trying to lead.  Andy is a really good player and is going to be a good long-term player.  He’s a serious football player.  He’s not a jackass, he doesn’t screw around, he pays the price, all of those things.  They’re just trying to get him to be a little more aggressive verbally, but that’s not who the young man is and he shouldn’t try to be somebody like that.  He’s more like Kenny Anderson, and I think that he’s going to have a great career.”

After leading the Bengals to the playoffs and making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, Dalton is on a pace to pass for more than 4200 yards this year which would break Carson Palmer’s single-season team record.  But he’s also the only quarterback in the NFL to be intercepted in every game this season and is only completing 44.8% of his passes on third down.

“Like all young quarterbacks – you can ask any of us that ever played the position – there is going to be a time where you hit the wall and it becomes very frustrating,” said Esiason.  “If Andy can come out this week and do what Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, and RGIII have all done in the last three weeks against this Giants defense, he’ll feel a lot better about himself and I wouldn’t be surprised if they won the game,” said Esiason.  “Everybody’s confidence goes in the tank every now and again – all of us went through it.  I suffered through these awful losing streaks and awful losing seasons as well.  He needs to have a good game.  He needs to have a high QB rating game, he needs to make some big plays with his favorite target A.J. Green, and the next thing you know you just let it loose on the field and it’s not such a pressing game anymore.  You wish you could articulate this to every young player, but the only way that they become better players is to go through stuff like this.”

Ironically, if Dalton needs inspiration, Boomer says he should study the quarterback that he will try to beat on Sunday.

“I would say, ‘Andy, look up Eli Manning’s 2007 season.’” said Esiason.  “Because right around Thanksgiving that year, his general manager Jerry Reese came out and said that he was skittish.  I remember that it sent all of us in the media here in New York on a feeding frenzy.  Nine weeks later, Eli Manning was a Super Bowl MVP for crying out loud.

“Should we panic in the short term?  I guess you can if you’re a Bengals fan and you’re in the midst of a four game losing streak.  But big picture?  I think the long-term prospects for Andy Dalton are very bright and these are the moments where you’re going to find out exactly what he’s made of.”

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

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Bengals Aren’t Looking To Be Praised For Effort

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 5, 2012 – 10:27 am

Do you want to know what drives me absolutely out-of-my-mind crazy?

When people make a big deal about players and coaches trying to find something positive to say after a loss.

What are they supposed to say?

After Sunday’s loss to the Broncos, several Bengals were asked some version of “Where do you go from here with a 3-5 record at the halfway point of the season?”

“One thing about this team is that we’re not going to give up,” said A.J. Green.  “We don’t care what our record is; we’re going to keep shooting.”

“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Devon Still.  “We went into practice knowing that we lost three straight games.  We did everything that we could to prepare to go out and get a win this week.  Unfortunately, it didn’t happen so we have to go out there next week and practice even harder than we did.”

“We fought our tails off,” said Andrew Whitworth.  “There’s nobody who should hang their heads.  We gave it everything that we got, but there are always things that you can do better.  This football team played 60 minutes and it just wasn’t good enough.”

Did you catch Whit’s last three words?

“Wasn’t good enough.”

Does that sound like someone who was happy with the outcome of Sunday’s game?

Newsflash:  The Bengals aren’t saying that they’re satisfied that they tried hard; they’re simply looking for a ray of hope in a season that has not lived up to expectations.

Try for a moment to put yourself in the shoes of a professional football player moments after a tough loss.

You’re exhausted, you’re angry, you’re probably sore, and maybe you made a highly-visible mistake that contributed to your team’s defeat.

Approximately ten minutes after you’ve trudged off the field, here come the reporters.

First there are several questions about specific plays that cost you the game.  Then, inevitably, there are more general questions about the state of the team.

In 1997 when Bruce Coslet was the Bengals head coach, he once answered one of those questions after a 31-14 loss to the Jets by saying, “We suck.”  I suppose some people admired his honesty, but it didn’t exactly rally the troops.

If the Bengals knock off the 6-3 New York Giants this week – admittedly a tough challenge – their five opponents after that are a combined 14-25.  I’m not trying to paint a rosy picture or predict a turnaround, but I want the players to realize that there’s a reason to keep battling.

“You just have to fight,” said Andrew Whitworth.  “We’ve been in bad situations before and we have to fight just like we did today.  This is a dang good football team that we lost to.  If we can play like that every week, we’ll win some games and we’ll have to see what happens.

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

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Bengals Need To Force Foes To Defend More Space

Posted by Dan Hoard on November 3, 2012 – 10:17 pm

One of Andy Dalton’s strengths is that he knows where he’s going with the ball and gets rid of it quickly.

But is he throwing it too quickly?

In Cincinnati’s last game, a 24-17 loss to Pittsburgh, the Bengals rarely tested the Steelers deep.  According to the website Pro Football Focus, only five of Dalton’s passes traveled more than 10 yards in the air and only two were beyond 20 yards.

“We probably should take more shots down the field,” said offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.  “The Pittsburgh game was a weird game – we only had about 20 plays on offense in the first half and about 20 more in the second half.  We could never really get in the flow to take some shots.  I was trying to get first downs and get something going but it never really transpired for us.  We do have to take a long look at ourselves offensively and try to take some more shots down the field.”

Former Bengals defensive back Solomon Wilcots has been the color commentator for two Cincinnati games on CBS-TV this year and says that Dalton makes the Bengals easy to defend if he doesn’t attempt longer throws.

“You have to continue to evolve in the National Football League because teams are going to have a ‘book’ on you – there’s no doubt,” said Wilcots.  “Defensive backs know that they can crowd the line of scrimmage if you’re not going to force them to defend every blade of grass.  It’s not that Andy can’t throw it deep, but for some reason or another, he’s a quick, get-the-ball-out kind of guy.  When you’re trying to get it out quickly, that equates to short passes, dink-and-dunk, and they’re not challenging teams down the field.  That allows all 11 defenders to creep closer and closer to the line of scrimmage and now it’s like playing in a phone booth.  You’ve got to make them defend every blade of grass.”

If teams play tight coverage and take away Dalton’s first or second read, he needs to buy time to allow his receivers to get open.

“A lot of the good plays in the NFL now are unscripted plays where the quarterback gets out of the pocket and finds guys deep downfield,” said Gruden.  “I think we’ve had one big play on a scramble and that was Hawkins against Cleveland, the rest have been scramble throwaways or throws to the flat.  When the opponent drops eight guys, it’s harder to find a concept that’s going to be open right away. Sometimes Andy’s going to have to buy time, move his feet in the pocket or scramble out of the pocket and wait for guys to get open in second and third windows.”

Buying additional time would also make it more difficult for teams to shutdown A.J. Green who was held to one catch for an 8-yard touchdown by Pittsburgh.

“The Steelers did a great job of putting a clamp on him,” said Hall of Fame receiver James Lofton who broadcast the game on national radio.  “There were times where Andy was making the right read and going somewhere else, but is A.J. Green really covered or is he good enough to still catch the ball?  It’s hard to second-guess the guy that’s in the pocket because he trying to throw the ball on rhythm and doesn’t want to take sacks and doesn’t want to take too many chances, but in a game like the Pittsburgh game when you’re trying to snap a losing streak, maybe you do need to take a few chances.”

The losing streak stands at three and with the Broncos coming to town averaging 29 points a game behind a rejuvenated Peyton Manning, the Bengals offense is going to have to perform well on Sunday.

“It’s going to be important for us, like it is every week, to be in positive down and distance and try to play with the lead,” said Gruden.  “If we can play in the lead or stay close, we can keep them off-balance with different personnel groups and formations.  If we’re behind, and we have to throw five- and seven-step drops all day, we don’t have a chance.  We have to make sure that we get the lead, try to hammer the running game against them the best that we can, and keep them off balance.”

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

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