It takes all kinds

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on January 20, 2013 – 8:51 am


The men who oversee the Bengals quarterbacks, position coach Ken Zampese and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, appreciate what 49ers rookie Colin Kaepernick brings to the position in Sunday’s Final Four and what Washington’s Robert Griffin III brings to the Rookie of the Year vote. And they see a trend coming out of the colleges featuring a new breed of running/athletic quarterback that is going to challenge the NFL offensive coordinators to implement some of those elements.

But the dropback passer is no extinct species, they say.  As Zampese looks around in the conference championship games, he also sees two traditional guys that came out in 2008 in Baltimore’s Joe Flacco and Atlanta’s Matt Ryan. And there’s also the guy in New England.  Thomas Edward Patrick Brady.

This talk of the best of Sunday’s field? “He’s the best of 32. Not the best of four,” Zampese says of New England’s ultimate pocket passer.

“You still have to make a throw. But if you can buy time, you can look for more opportunities to make a throw. I think that’s where some of those guys can really make hay in this league. You still have to throw, and make a good accurate throw. But if athletically you can create more opportunities, that are good. These guys running around are still passers at heart first … all these guys can still do that. That’s why they’re so valuable.”

Gruden has watched how Kaepernick took over the 49ers the last half of the season, culminating with last Sunday’s NFL record for a quarterback with 181 rushing yards.

“They’ve got a stellar offensive line that’s been playing well and Michael Crabtree has emerged as a leading receiver. That’s not taking anything away from Colin because he’s done some great things,” Gruden says.  “They’ve had positive down and distance. They’ve not been in any third-and-longs, and if they are, Colin has made some plays with his feet.”

Zampese says the supporting cast has allowed the New Breed to make an immediate impact.

“The thing about the new guys having success is they’re doing it on teams with top five defenses and top five rushing attacks,” Zampese says. “You throw it more than 30 times and all of a sudden guys get exposed because there’s a lot more pressure on the quarterback to make a throw. Keep the attempts closer to 20 and life is good.”

While the Bengals watched TCU’s Andy Dalton play for the South in the 2011 Senior Bowl, they coached Kaepernick for the North and while they liked a lot about him, he didn’t fit what they needed at the time. As Gruden recalls, “We didn’t have a quarterback.” The Bengals needed one right away for Opening Day and even Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers head coach that traded up to get Kaepernick with the 36th pick, knew Kaepernick was at least a year away. The Bengals, thrilled with how Dalton projected into running Gruden’s West Coast scheme, identified him as their top guy from that class and grabbed him at No. 35.

How raw was Kaepernick coming out of Nevada running the Pistol formation? “Extremely raw. Sidearm fastballs. Kent Tekulve,” Zampese says of the great Pirates submarine closer.  He was going to take some time and we were in the market where we need something a little different. We highlighted the guy with a ton of experience.” But that doesn’t mean the Bengals didn’t have regard for Kaepernick.

“Fun guy to be around. Very coachable. He doesn’t have an inflated opinion of himself. He just wants to be good,” Zampese says. “He’s young and impressionable in a good way. He’s solid with who he is. He’s got a foundation of personality in the huddle that is electric.  You feel like when he’s playing, you’ve got a chance. That’s what jumped out at me that week.”

The Bengals got the same sense of huddle presence from Dalton and both clubs have been rewarded. Dalton is 19-13 as a starter with two playoff berths in two seasons. Kaepernick has his team a game away from the Super Bowl. Zampese loves the way Dalton’s overall stats not only rose from his rookie season this year, but when he made the commitment to cut back on throwing interceptions, the Bengals went 7-1 in the last eight games.

“He’s growing. If his numbers keep improving like that, we’ll win 10-plus games,” Zampese says of 2013.  “If his passer rating is in the mid-90s, we’re winning 10-plus games. If the touchdown passes to interceptions are two-to-one, we’re winning 10-plus games.”

Zampese is extremely impressed that in his last eight games, Dalton threw five picks compared to 11 in the first half of the season. He knows improvement is needed after what happened in the last month and the playoff loss in Houston. But …

“That mentality you love to see. We want him to fix it and he does,”‘ Zampese says. “And we played worse offensively, yet we won more games, which is interesting to note. We talked about taking too much risk in some of those decisions and we needed to cut back the risk. It made a difference. It didn’t show up in yards and points, but it made a difference in wins and losses.”

That’s the kind of thinking the Bengals believe gets teams to win playoff games and why they think the moxie of  Dalton with his 11-5 road record and two Decembers of stretch pressure is going to be even more valuable as his career progresses. The Bengals aren’t looking for him to be Kaepernick, Flacco, Ryan or Brady. They look at a guy that doesn’t have great speed or a huge deep ball and they see a Drew Brees, a Super Bowl MVP with yet another style.

“It takes all kinds. You see it this weekend. You’ve got everything at quarterback,” Zampese says. “Andy is Andy. He’s not this guy or that guy. The guy is a point guard who can get the ball to all parts of the field. And he’s a fighter. That’s what you want.”

The read option?

“Not even close. Brady is the best in the game,” Gruden says with a laugh. “He can do it all. Except run the read option. Who gives a crap?”

Posted in Hobson's Choice | 18 Comments »

18 Responses to “It takes all kinds”

  1. By mwindle1973 on Jan 30, 2013 | Reply

    Very sad to see Jim Anderson retiring. He’s one of the best at what he does. You can’t really replace that kind of knowledge. Hopefully we’ll move Jackson over to that spot, if he wants it. Or maybe we have our eye on someone else. You just can’t say how much having a guy that’s been around football that long does for your team.

  2. By mwindle1973 on Jan 31, 2013 | Reply

    There seems to be a little rumbling from some media, about the Bengals needing to sign Greg Jennings in free agency. The theory being he will be a little cheaper than the top tier so we could afford him. And that by virtue of him already playing in a multiple WR scheme were 4 or 5 guys get utilized, that he can add to the team without stunting the young WRs growth. He can play inside and out, and is known as a great leader and role model for his teammates. The second thing I seen, was a lone article that said Andy Dalton is poised to become an elite QB this season. That’s quite a bit different than what I’ve been reading. Which is mostly articles questioning whether he can improve anymore than his current level. This article pointed out that he continued to improve in key areas this year. He believes Dalton will reduce his 16 ints from this year, and put up 4000+ yds and 30+ TDs this coming season. That would be nice. And so would signing Jennings, but my biggest concern about the team right now, is how the roster will shakeout. Who will/can we re-sign and who we have to/choose to let go. And then what we can do in free agency to fill any remaining holes. A lot of it going to come down to getting an agreement on money between the two parties. Some players like Newmann & Adam Jones played for pennies last year. And they had such a good year that they will draw more on the open market than they did last year. So they have to get a raise. But how much can we afford? There are guys like Geather who we want to keep, but for about half of what he’s paid now which is probably his market value right now. Can the two parties find a middle ground. Then you have the Smith & Johnson contracts. You have to keep them. But they both were top 5 at their position this year. So they aren’t going to be cheap!

  3. By tepidfan31 on Feb 1, 2013 | Reply

    An opinion on Andy. Coming to the NFL there was a question as to his arm strength. I think there still might be. Yes, he can heave it 60 yards, but throwing it accurately down field is my question. Arm strength is not only how far you can throw, but more how accurately you can throw both short and long. Towards the end of the year the accuracy was lacking.

  4. By mwindle1973 on Feb 2, 2013 | Reply

    With HOF announcements to come in a few hours I found this gem of an article. It details why Art Modell does not belong in the HOF. And it’s not your standard “he took our team” explanation. It goes back to 1961 and works forward. Reveals details about Modells supposed pioneering in TV deals and Monday night football. They pretty much prove them to be myths. They tell you all the bad stuff he did too, but argue he has no real credentials to be in the HOF, or perhaps to even be viewed as anything but a mediocre to bad owner.

  5. By mwindle1973 on Feb 2, 2013 | Reply

    George Halas, Paul Brown, Curly Lambeau, Al Davis, Lamar Hunt…this is all of the owners in the HOF. It would be a disgrace to 5 of the greatest figures in NFL history to put his name in the same category with them.

  6. By mwindle1973 on Feb 4, 2013 | Reply

    I know it’s not a popular opinion…but I was glad to see the Ravens get the win, and see Ray Lewis get his second ring. The 2000 Ravens along with the 1985 Bears are the 2 best teams I’ve ever seen. Lewis was the last player from that team in the NFL. Really what the Ravens did in the 1st round of the draft from 1996-2003 was amazing. Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware, Duane Starks, Chris McCalister, Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap, Ed Reed & Terrell Suggs. 9 picks 8 pro bowlers, and one 8 year NFL starter. It proves out that the AFC North is probably the toughest division in the NFL. The Ravens just like the Steelers are about to change as we’ve known them over the last 15 years or so. The Ravens have little cap space and quite a few guys like Flacco, Reed, Kruger, Ellerbee, Pitta, McKinnie & about a dozen others to sign. They will be lucky to get Reed, Flacco, their RFAs & rookies signed. They could choose to bypass Reed, and maybe sign 2 of the other guys, but either way they are losing some of the core. Plus with Lewis retiring it’s going to be an adjustment. One thing they got going, is Jim Caldwell, who proved himself one of the better play callers out there. Pittsburgh is in even worse shape. They have even more free agents, and virtually no cap space. Plus they have a lot of guys under contract whose skills are deteriorating. Both teams have stuck to a certain MOs for a long time, and think they will both look quite different next year.

  7. By mwindle1973 on Feb 6, 2013 | Reply

    According to we lead the league in cap space going into the off season. We have 50.6M. The Browns rank 2nd with 45.6M. The Ravens rank 13th with 12.9M. The Steelers are one of 12 teams over the cap. They are 13.8M over the cap, ranking them 28th. There are ways to restructure contracts, etc. to lower the cap number, but they both have some some high profile free agents. At the very least I think it’s safe to assume that both the Steelers and Ravens will be doing their best to keep the roster as intact as possible.

  8. By mwindle1973 on Feb 7, 2013 | Reply

    Really glad to see Hue Jackson get moved to the offensive side of the ball. I think he’s one of the best out there. Shouldn’t even be saying this, but I would rather have him as OC than Gruden. I have no complaints about Gruden, I don’t think he needs replaced or anything. I actually think he’s one of the best OCs in the NFL. I just happen to feel Jackson is even better. It will be great to get his ideas in the mix. And also with him having an administrative role, it could have a profound effect. Much like Marvin Lewis, players tend to respond well to Jackson and buy into what he’s teaching. A lot of the players called for him to be kept when Oakland changed regimes. You know your players believe in you when you are about to be fired and they stand by you. Usually that’s when people abandon you. It’s a great thing when you have 3 assistants that are qualified to be head coaches. Can’t wait for free agency to see how it all shakes out. Who we chose to re-sign, who we can’t afford or don’t want to sign, which at large free agents we target if any. Once we know some of these things then we can start to get an idea where we might go in the draft. As it is, with only half a roster, every position is a need until we sign some people.

  9. By mwindle1973 on Feb 13, 2013 | Reply

    Congrats to Jim Anderson for winning the Pollard Alliance lifetime achievement award! Nice to see him and Mike Brown recognized in consecutive years. Says a lot about this organization.

  10. By tepidfan31 on Feb 20, 2013 | Reply

    I am concerned as to what several pundits are saying about some of our players. One, they have been saying the Boling had a very poor season; Two, the Mays will never be a good safety; and Three, that Maualuga is an average MLB at best. I wonder what the degree of truth there is to such reports, and if the Bengals concur.
    If Boling is a problem, there are several touted OLmen in the draft; if not a guard, could they possibly consider a tackle, and move Smith inside?
    It is obvious that we need a top grade safety.
    If Maualuga is only average, dow we need a MLB as well as an OLB?

  11. By tepidfan31 on Feb 22, 2013 | Reply

    My take:
    Bengal Free Agent Priorities
    1 Michael Johnson DE
    2 Andre Smith OL
    3 Pat Sims DT
    4 Robert Geathers DE
    5 Adam Jones CB
    6 Brian Leonard RB
    7 Kevin Huber P
    ? Josh Brown K
    ? Mike Nugent K
    Nate Clements CB
    Chris Crocker S
    Wallace Gilberry DE
    Bruce Gradkowski QB
    Clark Harris OL
    Thomas Howard LB
    Manny Lawson LB
    Rey Maualuga LB
    Terence Newman CB
    Cedric Peerman RB
    Dennis Roland OL
    Bernard Scott RB
    Dan Skuta LB
    Brandon Tate WR

    1 OLB
    2 S
    3 OL man
    4 MLB
    5 RB
    6 QB

  12. By tepidfan31 on Feb 22, 2013 | Reply

    Why not sign one of the following Free Agents?

    Age Rank Player Pos Team
    27 13 Jairus Byrd S Buffalo
    26 14 Andy Levitre OG Buffalo
    27 19 Phil Loadholt T Minnesota
    28 22 Dashon Goldson S San Fran
    27 26 William Moore S Atlanta
    27 36 Sam Baker T Atlanta
    25 47 Victor Butler LB Dallas
    25 48 Louis Vasquez OG San Diego
    26 50 Geoff Schwartz OG Minnesota

  13. By mwindle1973 on Feb 24, 2013 | Reply

    @tepid….Moore and Goldson would be good signings to fill the SS position. Don’t know how much money they are going to draw or if they will be worth it. But IMO they are the 2 best Ss out there in free agency for our D system.

  14. By mwindle1973 on Feb 24, 2013 | Reply

    On thing that’s hard to gauge in all this is what are the chances of getting Adam Jones back. Pro Football Focus has him as the #3 free agent CB available. They say he graded out as #1 available, but some rumbling in their panel about his past issues demoted him to #3. THe big question is what will his value be in free agency. I’m certain we aren’t going to get him at league minimum again. My worry is with his financial issues, he may chase a big contract if it’s offered and who could blame him. We can’t afford to give him starting money because he won’t start for us (barring injury to the starters). If I had to guess what we’d offer I would say up to about 3M for 2 or 3 years. We’ve put in 3 years on him, we’ve only spent 2.5M in that time on him, and despite turning 30 this season he has only played in 68 games starting only 47 of them. He’s seen the same playing time of your average 3-4 year starter. There are guys still on their first contracts with more play time than that. So as he showed last year, there is quite a bit left in the tank. We no doubt want him back. Question is this…is there a team needing a starting CB willing to give him 5M for 4 years? I think we have a chance for him, but if his price gets over the 3M per year range, or gets beyond 2 years, we are going to have trouble working a deal.

  15. By mwindle1973 on Feb 24, 2013 | Reply

    One RB and one FB caught my eye at the Combine today. Texas A&M RB Chrstine Michael. He ran a 4.41 40 and did 27 reps in the bench press at 5’10” 220. He had a great freshman year, then injuries marred his sophomore and junior seasons. He reportedly butted heads with the new head coach his senior season and only received 88 carries. He’s a north south runner, who has a great cutback, low center of gravity and top end speed to break long runs. Initially thought of as a 3-5 round prospect, buzz is his stock may rise to 2nd rounder by draft day. Wake Forest FB Tommy Bohanon ran a 4.81 40 and did 36 reps in the bench press. He’s 6’1″ 245 and has 10″ hands. He was primarily a blocking back, but had carried in short yardage. Had 23 receptions for 208 yds and 5 rec TDs in his senior year. Not a bad 40 for a FB and the 36 reps are over the top. There will be plenty of lineman that don’t top that number. Reportedly scouts were impressed with his consistency at the Sr Bowl. A blocking FB that can catch passes, can really help to open up the WCO.

  16. By mwindle1973 on Feb 28, 2013 | Reply

    THe RB I mentioned above, CHristine Michael, kept tearing the workouts up. His 40 was adjusted to 4.54 which was 10th amongst RBs. His 27 reps in the bench press ranked him 3rd. 43″ vertical jump, 4.02 20 yd shuttle, and 6.69 3 cone drill were all three ranked 1st. 3rd in the broad jump at 10’5″, and ranked 6th in the 60 yd TD shuttle at 11.56. Again his size is prototypical at 5’10” 220. I mentioned some of his problems hurting his draft stock above. Well there was one thing (or maybe two it’s not clear yet) that hurt his combine performance. He overslept and missed two group drills/meetings. It’s unclear whether he overslept once and missed two drills/meetings or whether he overslept on two different occasions. Seems like a small deal, could be. But for a guy who already has baggage that says he might be an attitude problem or have problems conforming, it just reinforces the idea. ONe thing I’m left with after the combine is this is a good group of CBs with lots of size and speed.

  17. By mwindle1973 on Mar 1, 2013 | Reply

    Good to see Whit get that knee taken care of. It has hampered him some. Mainly in the run game where he’s been kind of an average presence since the knee started bothering him in 2011. It was effecting his ability to drive in run blocking and also when someone got their pads underneath of him pass rushing. He’s always been the type of guy when beaten at pad level who could plant the leg, then turn and drive the pass rusher down into the ground. This last season when he attempted it he only slowed the pass rusher instead of stopping him, and it often led to Whit hooking the guys neck with his arm and getting called for holding. Often the result would be holding or a QB pressure or worse. Yet he still was one of the best pass protectors in the NFL this year. THe run blocking is the same issue. He rarely gets lower pad level when run blocking. He’s just too tall. But he gets push by planting, striking and driving with legs. Prior to the injury, in 2010, we were running as much or more to the left than to the middle or right. The past 2 seasons we have been running heavily to the middle and right. Part of me began to wonder if he wasn’t starting to lose something physically. But I just forgot about his injury. I remember it being said that he was hampered int he last half of 2011 by the knee, and you could see it. And in hindsight it was the same symptoms this season. I bet we are going to see an improved Whit come Sept. Especially in the run blocking dept.

  18. By mwindle1973 on Mar 1, 2013 | Reply

    @Hobson: In a recent article you stated the Bengals had 40M in cap space. According to they have 55.5M before franchising Johnson. Another site, that tracks salaries in professional sports, shows the Bengals with 46.5M in cap space after putting Johnson in at a contract of 11.175M. They show it based on 51 active contracts and 1 dead money contract (from cutting Shipley) at a total of 86.5M and 10.2M in rollover from 2012. Based on PFTs recent report of a 123M cap this year, that leaves 46.5M. If you use the numbers and deduct 11.175M for Johnson’s cap hit that leaves 44.3M. Using your 40M number it leaves us with about 29M. I know that since teams don’t confirm salaries it makes it guess work to figure cap space at a given point in time. Mainly wondering if your source was an inside one or maybe it wasn’t including the rollover or something? Also wondering if we officially took the option to rollover the 10.2M from 2012 yet or if it’s being assumed that we will. Last question…any idea how the 89% rule works that starts this year? Is 89% for each team or the league as a whole? And do cap rollover from previous years factor in?

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