Second look

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on August 14, 2011 – 8:30 am

Random thoughts after watching the TV version of the Bengals 34-3 loss at Detroit in their preseason opener.

» Indications are rookie SAM linebacker Dontay Moch’s broken foot isn’t initially thought to be severe enough to be season-ending. It sounds like he’ll be back between four to six weeks. In that case he’d be inactive those first couple of regular-season games.

» Besides running back Cedric Benson’s 6.2 yards per carry and backup defensive tackle Clinton McDonald’s eight tackles and one forced fumble, the best individual story coming out of the game was how right tackle Andre Smith’s foot held up. He acknowledged he’s still working on technique, but the fact he got through a game’s pounding had to be a relief.

He was inconsistent. He whiffed on cornerback Amari Spievey on a screen and let backup end Keyunta Dawson pressure quarterback Andy Dalton into an incompletion. But he was very effective in the running game. He helped spring Benson’s 16-yard run, along with tight end Jermaine Gresham taking out the defensive end.

And while right guard Bobbie Williams had trouble with the All-World Suh in the pass game a few times, he also pushed people around in the running game.

» Head coach Marvin Lewis finally has some wide receivers that block. Jerome Simpson had a feisty night and made a great effort play when he busted back downfield after running his pattern to make a diving block in an effort to help A.J. Green break a play underneath.

» Another effort play by that first group: Running back Brian Leonard again made “The Leap” on a screen pass, but the most impressive part of the play was how he dragged 250-pound linebacker Bobby Carpenter past the first-down stick. And how left tackle Andrew Whitworth was there at the end getting a block in.

The play got blown up by a holding call on left guard Nate Livings, a play analyst Anthony Munoz called questionable.

» But there is no question the Bengals interior struggled with the Lions starters. And Cincinnati’s backups didn’t give No. 2 quarterback Bruce Gradkowski much time on the perimeter or up the middle. When he had to step up, which was often, he didn’t look good. When he had time, he made some throws.

» That second half was tough to watch when it came to the passing game, considering one of their three healthy backup receivers was John Standeford, a guy that has never practiced with them. That’s got to be tough on the coaches trying to evaluate the quarterbacks.

Although Jordan Palmer no doubt would like to have his interception back in exchange for a sack. The Lions didn’t bite on a play-action rollout and Palmer was going down as he tried to heave the ball out of bounds. But it didn’t get there.

» Rookie running back Jay Finley got the most carries on the night with seven and he looked good on a couple and not so great on others, a typical rookie night. He showed some good burst and strength on an eight-yard run on the sideline. But his Welcome-to-the-NFL moment may have come on the last drive of the first half when he was one-on-one against cornerback Brandon McDonald all alone over the middle on a dump pass and he couldn’t make McDonald miss on a one-yard gain.

» It looks like the Bengals are toying with putting cornerback Leon Hall on the best receiver no matter the side. They used him at both and while he gave up two TDs one-on-one on the left side in the end zone, he had good coverage on first Calvin Johnson and then Nate Burleson. He did get his head turned around on Johnson and lost the ball, but quarterback Matthew Stafford made that play when he threw it to Johnson’s back shoulder.

» As former Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton often notes, the way they get their quarterback pressure is through coordinator Mike Zimmer’s scheming. So when they come out vanilla like they did Friday, it looks like 7-on-7 and the first group offered no pressure in the first half and that always makes the coverage look bad. Even though the Lions were decimated at tackle.

After that first drive the No. 1 guys played the run pretty well and middle linebacker Rey Maualuga looked like he had his guys lined up.

» The backups got better pressure, but they couldn’t finish for sacks. Before he left with an injured ankle, Victor Adeyanju got there a few times, but he couldn’t take down Drew Stanton on the last play before the last-play field goal in the first half.

Rookie linebacker DeQuin Evans continues to flash with his speed around the corner on passing downs, but he couldn’t finish either. He had an offsides penalty but stepped in well for Moch.

» Starting safeties Chris Crocker and Reggie Nelson were active (Nelson made a nice tackle in the flat early), but when they left the game there were a lot of balls completed over the middle, particularly on the Lions’ last drive of the half.

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