If Sunday’s game was in San Diego, the Bengals would be a lock.
I’ve had the pleasure of calling eight sporting events in San Diego and Cincinnati has won all of them.
2001: Bearcats beat BYU and Kent State in NCAA Tourney to advance to Sweet 16.
2005: Reds sweep a 3-game series vs. the Padres (subbed for George Grande).
2007: UC football team beats San Diego State 52-23.
2012: Bengals beat Chargers 20-13.
2013: Bengals beat Chargers 17-10.
I interviewed to be one of the Padres’ radio announcers once and did not get the job. They missed out on the opportunity to go 81-0 at home.
Enough about me…time for this week’s Bits From The Booth.
Ian Eagle, who will call Sunday’s game on CBS-TV with Dan Fouts, joined Dave Lapham and me on Wednesday night’s “Bengals Game Plan” show. Ian typically broadcasts a few Bengals games every season and told us that he’s impressed by Cincinnati’s ability to draft and develop players.
“The Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers get a lot of credit for homegrown talent and developing talent,” Eagle told us. “When I was going through my prep and my spotting boards and looking through my stuff from last year, it just blows my mind how good the Bengals have been in the draft. And not just hitting home runs occasionally which you have to do – we know that – but a lot of doubles and triples. They’re so efficient year after year. Fourth round picks that play for them, sixth round picks that stick around for a length of time. That’s saying something. It’s saying something about Mike Brown, it’s saying something about Marvin Lewis and this staff and their ability to dissect talent at the collegiate level and translate it to the professional level. Now you know better than me that at the end of the year they’re going to have a lot of decisions to make. There are a bunch of unrestricted free agents on this team, so if this is the last go-round for this particular group as it’s currently constituted, I’m sure they want to change the way there are perceived around this league. The only way to do that is by going out in the postseason and winning a game or two.”
UC head coach Tommy Tuberville has a vacation home in Destin, FL. Believe it or not, his next-door neighbor is Chargers’ quarterback Philip Rivers.
“I’ve known Philip for a long time,” said Tuberville. “I’ve actually known his dad a lot longer – his dad is a football coach from Athens, Alabama and when I was at Auburn we actually recruited Philip. Now this is how good of a recruiter I am – I told him that he couldn’t play quarterback; he was probably going to have to play tight end. He was coming to Auburn, and then North Carolina State came in at the last minute and offered him a scholarship to play quarterback. I said, ‘Hey, if you want to play quarterback you probably need to go there because it’s going to be tough to beat out Jason Campbell.’ That’s who we had coming in. We’ve become good friends ever since and recently, in the last eight or nine months, he bought a house next to me in Destin and we kind of renewed our friendship during a week of vacation. He’s got seven kids with an eighth on the way and I tell you, he just loves football. He and Peyton Manning are nearly identical in that they are hard workers, love football, and really understand it. Philip was really excited about his next few years in the NFL.”
With his large – and growing – family, Rivers has to be the only quarterback in the NFL that drives a 12-passenger van.
What’s My Line?
San Diego enters Sunday’s game with some issues on its offensive line. Projected starter Johnnie Trautman suffered a broken arm in the Chargers’ first preseason game and right guard D.J. Fluker was taken off the field on a cart with an ankle injury last week vs. Detroit. Fluker is listed as doubtful for this week’s game.
The likely starter at right guard is converted tackle Chris Hairston who would frequently be matched up against Geno Atkins. Not a fun way to make your first NFL start at guard.
The Chargers are accustomed to having to make changes on the offensive line. Last year they became the first team since the NFL/AFL merger in 1970 to use five starting centers in a season: Nick Hardwick, Rich Ohrnberger, Doug Legursky, Chris Watt, and (former Bengal) Trevor Robinson. That was one of the big reasons why San Diego missed the playoffs last season after a 5-1 start.
Read My Lips:
Last week, the Chargers fell behind Detroit 21-3 before rallying to beat the Lions 33-28. Rivers threw a pick-six in the second quarter and a terrible red zone interception just before halftime before going 21-for-23 in the second half with a team-record 20 straight completions to end the game.
Chargers radio voice Josh Lewin jokingly told us on the “Bengals Pep Rally” show on Friday that you could tell that Rivers was going to turn it around by his language.
“He looks like he’s just a complete maniac on the field, but he doesn’t swear,” said Lewin. “He’s a real goody-goody – he doesn’t drink and he doesn’t swear. You could actually read his lips when he underthrew Malcom Floyd at the end of the second quarter. He let out this huge, ‘Dad-gummit!’ You kind of knew at that point, ‘Ok, now it’s on.’ Once you hear ‘dad-gummit,’ things are about to turn and they did.”
After one week, Rivers leads the NFL in passing yards (404), completion percentage (83.3) and dad-gummits (1).
He Who Shall Not Be Named:
Every Wednesday on “Bengals Game Plan,” we do a deep dive with one of the Bengals assistant coaches and this week it was tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes. Here’s what he had to say about the players he’s currently working with: Tyler Eifert, Ryan Hewitt, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah, and practice squad member Matt Lengel.
“They’re very willing young men and it’s fun when you have a bunch of guys that come to work every day to get better,” said Hayes. “That’s all you ask for as a coach. As a player, I sat in their seats and I wanted to be the same way. You don’t want to be the guy that’s always misstepping. You want to be the guy that’s helping to bring the room up and I think they all do in their own way. It’s good to see and it’s fun to be around. I’m really enjoying coaching these guys.”
Coach Hayes did not specifically mention Jermaine Gresham but you can’t help but wonder if the former first round pick did not fit the above description. In case you missed it, Gresham had 1 catch for 4 yards in Arizona’s season opener.
Marcus Mariota began his NFL career by posting a perfect passer rating (158.3) against Tampa Bay. Former Oregon teammate Jake Fisher claims that he was not surprised.
“I told everybody that he’s going to be one of the best that’s ever played this game,” said Fisher.
Fisher helped to protect Mariota’s blind side last year and I asked Jake what it meant to him when his teammate won the Heisman Trophy.
“I guess I can say that I helped a little bit,” Fisher told me. “I was a leader in my group, but that guy works so hard and does such a great job at what he does. He puts his whole lifestyle into it. And off the field he’s a high-character guy that’s probably the best person that I’ve ever met. So for me, nothing personal came from that but I was so happy for him to get that award. He should have had it two years in a row in my opinion. I was extremely happy for him and excited about everything that he’s accomplished.”
Jake Fisher is the subject of this week’s “Fun Facts” interview on the Bengals radio network pregame show. It should run at approximately 12:30.
Among other things, we’ll discuss this.
Talk to you from the booth at Paul Brown Stadium. Hope you’ll be listening.
I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net
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Tags: Bengals, Philip Rivers, San Diego
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