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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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Catchy stocks; Peyton welcomes Caldwell

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on March 21, 2012 – 8:14 pm

If the Bengals are indeed in the market for a wide receiver in next month’s draft at No. 17 or No. 21, they look to have another first-round option after Baylor’s Kendall Wright  ran a 4.3-second 40-yard dash at his pro workout Wednesday in Waco, Texas.

Wright fell over the side last month at the scouting combine when he ran 4.61 seconds, which mystified teams because it didn’t match how fast he played on tape.

Now Wright seems all right. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said on the air he’d be stunned now if Wright fell out of the top 20 and ESPN’s Todd McShay said on the ESPN Chicago blog that the 40 “helps you kind of solidify the fact he’s one of the top two or three receivers in the draft.”

NFL.com’s Gil Brandt observed on his blog after he watched Wright catch balls from Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, “Everybody ‘oohed and ahhed’ at some (of) the catches that Kendall Wright made. The thing about him is, you can’t throw the ball over his head on deep routes. But he’s a very, very athletic guy who’s very strong.”

The Bears are apparently all over Wright and there were tweets Wednesday saying he won’t get past Chicago at No. 19. In the Bengals.com Media Mock Draft held this past weekend, the Bears took Notre Dame wide receiver Michael Floyd and Wright was still on the board for the Bengals.

Speaking of receivers, former Bengal Andre Caldwell also helped his stock Wednesday when he became the first receiver recruited to Hall of Famer Peyton Manning’s stable in Denver with a two-year deal. Caldwell was never really right last season after a groin injury in training camp and the additions of slot receivers Jordan Shipley, Andrew Hawkins and Ryan Whalen made him expendable.

He’s a relliable and smart player, a good route-runner and a  good blocker. He  caught 124 balls in four years, but will always be remembered for two he caught within 21 days from Carson Palmer; TDs in the last minute to beat Pittsburgh and Baltimore to help the ’09 AFC North sweep possible. And Caldwell’s five-yard TD catch with 10:52 left in Tennessee last year brought the Bengals from behind in the win that ended up putting them in the playoffs.


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Jackson signing impresses T.J.

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on February 20, 2012 – 6:20 am

Count T.J. Houshmandzadeh as an interested bystander in the Hue Jackson signing.

“I saw that and I was thinking, ‘What are the Bengals doing? It’s like they’re putting together an all-star coaching staff,’ ” he said this weekend. “They’re stacked.”

Houshmandzadeh, who jump-started his career in his fourth season when Jackson became the Bengals wide receivers coach, thinks it makes plenty of sense to fit Jackson in on the defensive side of the ball as an assistant secondary coach. In a part-time role for him during the last half of 2011, Houshmandzadeh saw what Jackson did this past year in his only season as the Raiders head coach with an injury-riddled offense in transition.

With quarterback Carson Palmer not arriving until the sixth week of the regular season and No. 1 running back Darren McFadden missing the last nine games, the Raiders still finished ninth in offense and a win away from taking the AFC West title.

“Hue knows offense. He knows it as well as anyone in the league. He’s one of the best offensive coaches there is,” Houshmandzadeh said. “He can help the defense get ready for that. He can help the defense break that down and he can help the DBs with what to expect. And he’s got Mike Zimmer and I think he’s the best defensive coordinator. I was really impressed with him the one year I was there. And you’ve got Marvin (Lewis) on defense, too.”

Houshmandzadeh’s last season with the Bengals was 2008 and even though that was two playoff appearances ago, he thinks he’s still got a pretty good feel for the guys that he worked with, such as running backs coach Jim Anderson and quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese.

“I worked enough with Kenny to know he’s a good one and you know J.A. has to be good at what he does because he’s been doing it so long (29 years),” he said. “Obviously I wasn’t there with (offensive coordinator) Jay Gruden, but for them to do what he did in his first year, you know he’s got to be a good coach. And Darrin (Simmons) is one of the best special teams coaches in the league.”

Heading into his 10th season, Lewis not only has developed a young crop of players that has already made the playoffs, but he’s put together his biggest named staff. There is a former head coach (Jackson), a coach that interviewed for two head coaching jobs last month (Zimmer) and a coach that turned down two interviews for head coaching jobs (Gruden).

Houshmandzadeh thought Jackson had the Raiders on the verge of big things with the acquisition of Palmer, but he wasn’t all that surprised when new general manager Reggie McKenzie fired Jackson.

“Hue did a great job in one year and you have to figure it was only going to get better on offense,” Houshmandzadeh said. “But at the same time I can understand that the guy wants to be comfortable with his head coach and wants to make sure he gets a guy that’s on the same page.”

Houshmandzadeh, who turns 35 the third week of this season, says he wants to keep playing and is looking. If not, expect him announcing for somebody.


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Thinking and Believing…again

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on November 29, 2011 – 5:32 pm

Jay Gruden

Again in honor of Listen to Lance A Lot and Peter The King, here are some things I Think I Believe:

I THINK I BELIEVE the Bengals must be having a very good year. It is not even December and already the name of a Bengals assistant coach has surfaced as a candidate for a head coaching job. In the wake of Jack Del Rio’s firing in Jacksonville on Tuesday, Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com tweeted the names of Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher.

It’s not just an idle report because Prisco lives in Jacksonville, covered the Jags forever at the Florida Times-Union, and still has good ties to the club. Plus, connect the dots. Jags general manager Gene Smith and Gruden’s father are both Heidelberg College football guys.

And it makes sense. Gruden and his staff have done a remarkable job with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, while in Jacksonville franchise QB Blaine Gabbert, the guy the Bengals thankfully passed at No. 4 for A.J. Green, is backsliding.

Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer figures to get some interest, too, as the defense sniffs a top five ranking for the second time in three years. Especially since Bill Parcells is so staunchly in his corner.

It only happens when people take notice what you’re doing and the Bengals have made them do that.

I THINK I BELIEVE Geno Atkins has a shot to be the first Bengals defensive tackle to make the Pro Bowl since nose tackle Tim Krumrie in 1988. Players and coaches are no different than everyone else and vote off stats, so his NFL-leading 6.5 sacks among tackles are huge. And you’ve got national media writing that Atkins was the best defensive tackle on the field in Baltimore the other week, not Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Haloti Ngata.

I THINK I BELIEVE that Sunday’s 51-yarder from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green showcased the kind of chemistry between a QB and receiver that hasn’t been seen around these parts since Carson Palmer was throwing to T.J. Houshmandzadeh in 2007, when Houshmandzadeh shared the NFL receiving title with 112 catches.

I THINK I BELIEVE the offense’s not-so-secret weapon is tight end Jermaine Gresham. The guy is a matchup nightmare when you also have to cover the speed of Green and Jerome Simpson downfield. It is shaping up to be the best season by a Bengals tight end since Rodney Holman went to the Pro Bowl in 1990. Gresham isn’t going to the Pro Bowl, but he’s on pace for 58 catches for 575 yards and while Tony McGee had 754 yards receiving on 55 catches in 1995, he only had four TDs. Gresham already has five. Holman also had five TDs in 1990 and 14.9 yards per his 40 catches.

I THINK I BELIEVE one of the most underrated stats of this season is Mike Nugent’s 8-for-9 effort on field goals in the fourth quarter. How good has Nugent been? He’s 35-for-40 from all over for an 87.5 percentage since he became the Bengals kicker in 2010. When he arrived before the season, his career percentage was 79 percent on 79-for-100.

I THINK BELIEVE if I’m left alone in the draft room with a box of Cap’n Crunch and Stephen King’s Nov. 22, 1963, I go cornerback, wide receiver, guard, D-lineman, running back in that order with those five projected picks in the first three rounds, the guess being that extra pick in the third ends up as the compensatory pick for cornerback Johnathan Joseph.

The Bengals have to think about D-line, too. With tackle Pat Sims and DT/DEs Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene looking at free agency, how many stick around to keep being part of a rotation instead of a starter? One thing, though. Every lineman gets a pretty significant number of snaps.

I THINK I BELIEVE this is a scheme league. How else to explain that quarterback Carson Palmer is winning the kind of games in Oakland in his first month that he didn’t win in Cincinnati for several years, if ever? On Sunday in the win over the Bears he threw for 301 yards without his top running back (Darren McFadden) and two of his top three receivers in Jacoby Ford and Denarius Moore.

Running back Michael Bush had just 69 yards on 24 carries. And there’s the nut. The Raiders are pounding the ball and mixing play-action for deep shots downfield with short throws to the backs as Palmer averages a whopping 8.9 yards per throw. Against the Bears he threw nine times to his fullback and running back.

He had back-to-back 100 passer rating games against Minnesota and San Diego. The last time he did that was the first two games of 2007. The last time he threw for 300 yards in a win was the last game of 2007.

The reports of his demise were clearly false. The guy can still play.

So, as it turns out, can Dalton.


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I Think I Believe

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on October 19, 2011 – 5:14 pm

Again, in honor of Lance McLaRussa and Peter The King, Things I Think I Believe, The Carson Edition.

I Think I Believe Tuesday was a very weird day in Bengaldom. It’s a happy day with the Church of Paul Brown’s bells pealing and the pundits singing and the team resting at 4-2.

And let’s lift a glass to a first-round pick in 2012 and at least a second-round pick in 2013. Right guard Bobbie Williams heard the compensation for Carson Palmer and his eyes went wider than Shayne Graham against the Steelers.

“The gift,” Bobbie said, “that keeps on giving.”

But there should be some sadness here. Palmer is one of the great all-time Bengals and even though he’s been good and gone nine months now in the hearts and minds of Bengaldom, the trade closes a significant chapter in its history.

What’s that you say? He’s a quitter, a coward, a wimp?

If that’s how you see it. I see it that he’s a good guy and a hell of a quarterback who made a mistake when he let the frustration and competitiveness get the better of him and would any of us be any better?

Even if I disagree with how he went about it at the end or wish at times he could have been a more passionate leader or more engaged in the community, that doesn’t change the fact he was one of the more courageous, talented and nicest guys to play here. He remained true to himself. Not warm and fuzzy. But private, polite, laid-back, resolute.

I Think I Believe so did Mike Brown stay true to himself. Tough, patient, trying to fit today into the big picture. Not as inflexible as you think.

And that says something for both guys in this age of TwitterFacebookNFLNetworkTeamCamsTeaPartyOccupationWallStreet with the world screaming at you at 235 miles per hour red, angry and mean like some boil on the neck to be just like them.

I Think I Believe I’m biased. Not 15 minutes after Palmer walked out of his first Raiders news conference he was on the horn Tuesday night. Not with SI or PFT or PTI or Shefty or Mort or the Dannetes or Rome, but with Bengals.com. Given what has transpired since his Mobile Manifesto at the Senior Bowl back in January, you wouldn’t exactly figure that would be an outlet on his list.

But it says something about him. It says everything about him. He’s a classy guy. Always has been. He didn’t say why he wanted out. We’ve all got guesses and we’re all probably a little right. Demanding a trade with the retirement card and four years left on a contract wasn’t the best thing to do, but this league, heck this team, has seen a lot worse. It could have got ugly. Palmer could have reported to force Brown’s hand. Brown could have offered to ship him to Washington. Tuesday could have been a two time-zone Jerry Springer, but you have to credit the civility of both guys.

I Think I Believe I disagree with Doc, although I’m assuming the “Mike Brown’s Finest Hour” column is largely tongue in cheek.

If you ask me, deciding to keep the Bengals in Cincinnati back in 1995 when everyone was telling him the smart money was in Baltimore was his finest hour. Published reports now put the Ravens revenue at $25 million more per year than the Bengals.

Other hours that trump the Palmer trade: Convincing Paul Brown to get back into pro football and doing it in Cincinnati, scouting and pushing the draft selections of Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason, building two Super Bowl teams in the ‘80s, hiring the AFC North’s first African-American head coach in Marvin Lewis.

I Think I Believe I liked Lewis’ answer when I asked about the consideration given to the same 4-2 records of the Bengals and Raiders. Say the Chargers win the AFC West and say the Bengals are trying to be one of two wild card teams that come out of the AFC North. Well, Cincinnati has beaten Buffalo head-to-head to win a tiebreaker. And if they had let Hue Jackson struggle with Kyle Boller for a while, you wouldn’t have had the Raiders to worry about for very long. Now you’ve given them air with a guy who has been to the Pro Bowl and won divisions.

But as Lewis said, “Once you make the choice and the decision, you can’t worry what happens on the other side. If you go through life that way, where are you going? You’d chase your tail all of the time and you’re not moving forward. Anytime a guy leaves this place and has put himself on the line for me like they have, I’m going to wish them well every chance I get. We love the chance to compete against people we’ve had here before. That’s part of it. That’s what any sport is about.”

I Think I Believe Palmer was worth the No. 1 pick in 2003. In the six seasons before he became the starter, the Bengals were 14-36 in division games. In his six seasons he didn’t miss a division game, they were 22-14. Enough said. And they had a shot every time he strapped it up after a decade of getting blown out and for eight years he said all the right things.

I Think I Believe I’ve said before that Palmer has a chance to be the Jim Plunkett of the early 21st century. A former Heisman Trophy winner and overall No. 1 pick; a battle-scarred veteran thought to be washed up leading another franchise to a Super Bowl title. Add now that both are returning to their native California for Al Davis’ team.

From 2004-06, only Brady and Manning were better than Palmer. And in ’09 he might not have had great stats, but he had the ultimate year for a quarterback with seven last drives at the end of a game or overtime that either won it, tied it, or gave the Bengals the lead. If he had performed that season in the NFC East there would be a statue of him.

Does he have anything left? I’d like to see him in an offense where the receivers don’t make it up as they go and the system doesn’t ask him to always drop back seven steps and make a great throw just to get eight yards. Then we’ll know.

I Think I Believe I disagree with Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated when he says that there is a double standard in granting Palmer a trade and not one to Chad Ochocinco when he demanded a trade in 2008. Which worries me because Trotter is one of the smartest guys out there and is very good at his craft.

But they are two different situations. The major thing is Ocho had a prohibitive salary cap hit of about $5-6 million if the Bengals traded him before the ’08 draft. Palmer had none. The Ocho reported to mandatory minicamp and training camp, Palmer didn’t report to anything.

And The Ocho went very public with his rant (he kept NFL Network on the air by himself that spring) that began at the Super Bowl and didn’t stop, really, until he got sent home in November the night before the Steelers game for insubordination. Palmer didn’t surface until Tuesday’s news conference.


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December of ’10 one to remember in ’11

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on June 23, 2011 – 5:32 pm

One of the many things that new offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has to do is turn around the trend that has seen the Bengals struggle for points in the second halves of games and the second halves of seasons for the last several years.

A little blast for early summer.

Gruden can get a lift from that last month of 2010, when the Bengals’ leading receivers were the young guns that sparked them to their first two 30-point plus games in December for the first time since 2005 and their highest scoring December since 2007.

Finishing has been elusive despite some high-wire acts under quarterback Carson Palmer. In his six full seasons as the starter, the Bengals averaged 11 points fewer coming out of the locker room at halftime compared to the numbers they had in the first half. Plus, in Palmer’s 27 December-January starts (not counting the injury-shortened 2005 Wild Card Game), the Bengals have averaged 20.5 points per game. In his 71 starts played before December, it is 22.8 points per game.

But in Palmer’s first three seasons, they averaged 24.5 points in his December starts compared to 17.8 in his most recent three seasons. Overall, in Palmer’s first 45 regular-season starts from 2004 to 2006, the Bengals averaged 24 points per game and were continually ranked among the league’s offensive elite. In his last 52, it is 20.6.

Did defenses figure out the offense? Personnel? Foes? His injuries?

The weather?

This past December with the kids, the Bengals put up their 30-spots against top four defenses (No. 1 Chargers, No. 4 Saints) in Paul Brown Stadium games that were played in less than ideal conditions. The 34-30 loss to the Saints was played in a wind that made it feel like 23 degrees and they beat the Chargers in swirling 15-to- 20 mile-per-hour winds that made it feel like 17 degrees.

What’s it all mean?

Ride the winds of December and finish.


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Start or no start?

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on May 6, 2011 – 12:57 pm

It sounds more and more like the Bengals aren’t batting an eye about making Andy Dalton a rookie Opening Day quarterback. Which goes to show you when it comes to quarterbacks, like Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said after they picked him, they are in the eye of the beholder.

The indication is that one of the reasons the Bengals picked Dalton last week is because they felt he was closer to NFL ready than the other guys they were considering. Now the Seahawks are admitting they considered him at No. 25 in the first round before opting for Alabama’s James Carpenter, a guy they think can help them right away.

Via ProFootballTalk.com Seahawks general manager John Schneider told 710 ESPN radio, “I think we all felt like we were at a point in our development where we couldn’t pass on a starting tackle right now. Quite honestly, we’d like to have a (QB), especially a rookie, be more of a developmental type and a guy more like Aaron Rodgers and sit for a year or two. So that was really the only point in the draft where there was a guy where we were like, ‘There he is, that’s a very viable option.’ ”

The question facing the Bengals is what kind of caliber free agent can they get with a quarterback of the future already in place? And, this isn’t exactly the same scenario when Carson Palmer was drafted in 2003 and they developed him for a year behind Jon Kitna.

Kitna had already started 33 games in offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski’s system. This time, the veteran and the rookie would be learning the same system at the same time. That levels the playing field for Dalton (it already sounds like Gruden had a Dalton-type guy in mind) and if he plays now, that means he’ll be getting the growing pains out of the way earlier than Palmer did, when they put up an 8-8 the first year he played.

That said, if it is a shortened training camp, the veteran could be a nice bridge in what could be a very weird first month of the season.


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Hall vote set to close; ’00 repeat?

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 20, 2011 – 12:43 pm

A few hits in the hurry-up offense:

» Voting for the 10 finalists for the Bengals.com Hall of Fame ends 12 a.m. Thursday. We won’t deliver the results until after the April 28-30 NFL Draft. There is a lot ground to make up for the other 21 candidates trying to break into the top 10. Career scoring leader Jim Breech was holding down the 10th spot by appearing on 49.7 percent of the ballots. Tight end Bob Trumpy at 44.8 and head coach Forrest Gregg at 39.4 were 11-12.

» Published reports are saying Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green is visiting Paul Brown Stadium on Wednesday, a player that many, if not most, mock drafts ticket to the Bengals at No. 4.

So on top of quarterback Jordan Palmer’s assertion this week that the working assumption is wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are not coming back, it gets someone thinking.

The last time the Bengals took a receiver with the fourth pick was April 15, 2000 when they tabbed Florida State’s Peter Warrick and a few days later cut their all-time leading receiver, Carl Pickens. Yes, The Ocho is now their career leader, but they can’t cut him during the lockout and if they do want to move him (despite Marvin Lewis’ frequent roasts they still haven’t said) they would prefer to trade him.

Just for the heck of it, the inaugural Bengals.com Hall of Fame class had two first-rounders (Anthony Muñoz, Isaac Curtis), a second-rounder (Boomer Esiason), and a third-rounder (Ken Anderson). Of the top three vote-getters so far for this class, Tim Krumrie was a 10th-rounder, James Brooks was a first-rounder and wide receiver Cris Collinsworth was a second-rounder, although Brooks was obtained in a trade.

By the way, when his time comes The Ocho is a first-ballot Bengals.com Hall of Famer. Maybe Pickens would have put up his numbers if he had Carson Palmer and The Ocho would have had Pickens’ numbers if he had Esiason at the end and Klingler and Akili at the beginning. But this isn’t the Sci-Fi Channel. That’s not what happened.

» Sports Illustrated‘s Peter King tweeted Wednesday he sees at least six quarterbacks in the first 49 picks and maybe seven. Let’s see. That’s Newton, Gabbert, Mallett, Locker, Ponder, Dalton and Kaepernick has to be the seventh. Everyone seems to think he’s No. 7 and that Newton is No. 1 and Gabbert is No. 2. After that, it seems to be the eye of the beholder.

Published reports have Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden all over Dalton but some teams wonder about his arm strength. The Bengals have said they like Mallett’s rocket arm, but how they’ve computed it into a grade against his lack of mobility and off-field issues is anyone’s guess. As in, would they take any of the seven if they’re there at No. 35? Or would it have to be a select few or one? Given they’re taking Carson Palmer’s trade-me-or-mothball-me demand seriously, would they even take Kaepernick at No. 35? Even though he’s very raw and is coming out of something called the Pistol Offense and maybe couldn’t help you for two years?


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No trade winds

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on April 6, 2011 – 2:20 pm

Palmer

Carson Palmer to the Dolphins?

Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald has had the Dolphins wired longer since, it seems, Watergate, so when he reports the Dolphins are interested in trading for Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, they are.

But if they think it’s going to take Dan Marino’s suggested third-round pick, they should take a drug test. Mike Brown giving up Palmer for only a third-rounder? Never happen. Brown giving up Palmer period? Maybe less than never.

Although Salguero suggests that the Bengals president is softening on his no-trade stance and others are theorizing the Bengals will trade Palmer if they get a quarterback in the first or second round, not so fast Bob Griese-breath.

Three weeks ago at the NFL meetings, Brown insisted he’s not trading Palmer.  Nothing has happened since then to indicate anything has changed. This isn’t an owner who checks in on his team every once in awhile. This isn’t a GM saying it. Or even an unnamed Bengals official.

It was the day-to-day CEO of the club saying it three weeks ago in a New Orleans hotel room and putting his name to it. No trade. And this is where Brown should never get underestimated. If you back him into a corner publicly on any issue, you’re going to have a long wait. Some might call him stubborn. But most tough, principled and smart people are. You’d call Palmer that, too. But his trade request died the moment it saw the light of day.

It could still happen. But should you hold your breath?

Plus, there’s this: Those close to Brown say Palmer is one of his favorite all-time Bengals. It figures. A great passer with a low-key, easy-to-like personality who never bought all the hype about himself.

I’m sure Armando is right on it.

But it looks like the Dolphins have to fish elsewhere.

At least for now. And now is looking like a long time.

And with the lockout freezing the league, that’s all we’ve got is now.


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More Thinking and Believing

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on March 15, 2011 – 1:09 pm

Again, in honor of WLW talkmaster Lance McAlister with baseball back again, and in honor of Peter King, Sports Illustrated titan, as I shamelessly begin to lobby for another pair of his Red Sox tickets, another version of I Think I Believe:

I Think I Believe the American judicial system is the only thing on the planet that can render the NFL as numbingly boring as 30 minutes of watching public access television.

I Think I Believe that I never agreed with Peter’s report from two weeks ago that the Bengals will listen to trade offers for Carson Palmer. They’re not ready. At least not yet. And they really won’t be ready if they can’t trade until him after the draft. When all they’ll be able to get is God knows what in 2012. If God knows they could get Andrew Luck, maybe that would change things.

Palmer

I Think I Believe I do agree with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Mike Brown didn’t give quarterback Carson Palmer a subtle jab during his Saturday interview with Bengals.com and The Cincinnati Enquirer.

I asked Brown how the lockout impacts the Palmer situation and he said, “I don’t want to talk about specific players. We’re not allowed to deal with the players and I’m not looking to send messages through the media or to the player or the public about a player. That’s a step too far under the ground rules we have with the lockout.”

Like Florio, I disagree with Joe and don’t believe Brown was taking a “subtle jab” at Palmer. Far from it.

First of all, Brown is out of the old school and takes very few shots and even more rarely at players. And when he does, he ain’t subtle. But I’ve never heard him go after a player back when he was talking to the media. He went off on Carl Pickens after he underminded head coach Bruce Coslet, but that’s about it. And he still has high regard for Palmer despite this mess. So much so he wouldn’t take a shot at him publicly and probably not privately, either.

Two, we know Mike wants Carson back. Back in the Jan 24 Mobile Doctrine, he called him central to the team’s plans. Now, that may just be pie in the sky and Palmer has no intention of coming back, but Mike isn’t going to do anything to alienate him publicly.

And third, Brown is one of these guys who is a stickler for the rules. I legitimately think the answer came straight from the heart. The NFL isn’t exactly clear about what you can and can’t legally say about players during the lockout, so owners are literally treating each word as if each syllable is a booby trap.

Nah, it wasn’t a jab. With all due respect to Reedy, who does a hell of a job and grinds the beat like not many.

Odom

I Think I Believe Antwan Odom has paid the steepest price ever to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Month.

Look at what has happened to the guy since he had five sacks against the Packers on Sept 20, 2009 in Green Bay. After getting one sack in the next four games, he ripped up his Achilles to end his season. Then his next training camp was hobbled by a virus and sore knee. Then when the season got going, he broke his wrist and reaggravated the knee before he got suspended a month for violating the league’s drug policy despite his lawyer arguing Odom had merely taken one of his wife’s prescription weight-loss pills by accident. Then he ended the season IR with no sacks. Now in the middle of the night he lost his home in Mason, Ohio to a fire.

Thankfully, he and his family weren’t home and we’re thinking of him today. The guy is an immense talent who if he gets back to anywhere near that ’09 form, just think what they have with him, Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson.

I Think I Believe the running backs, whoever they may be, are going to combine for something like 80 to 100 catches this season.

Jay Gruden’s West Coast scheme is perfect for backups Bernard Scott and Brian Leonard and by virtue of being The Bell Cow, Cedric Benson would probably grab 30 to 40 by himself. In his three seasons here, Benson’s high has been last season’s 28 catches, but they seemed more out of desperation and it didn’t look like the checkdowns were emphasized all that much. Benson may not be a scatback, but try tackling him in space when he’s got a running start. Remember late in the ’08 season when he burned the Redskins on a 79-yard screen that was the Bengals’ longest play of that season? And the clinching TD he caught against Carolina last year?

The Bengals haven’t always been infatuated with Scott’s attention to detail in the passing game, but if he’s heard about this playbook yet – and it’s anything like the usual West Coast – this thing is right down his alley out of the backfield. For whatever reason, he’s the most under-used guy on this roster. I’m not saying 15 to 20 touches a game, but how about between eight and 12? Or maybe even make him a bell cow for a couple of series like they were using him late in the year. In the coaches’ defense, he did get nicked up here and there and that cut down on his availability.

But they’ve got him for sure now with Benson and Leonard free agents.

I Think I Believe I see and hear more from former Bengals defensive tackle John Thornton than when he actually played. (And listen my children, Thornton was a very solid player up and down the line and a great locker room guy.)

He’s all over. He’s media. He’s working with draft prospects and players. He’s blogging and tweeting. He’s unstoppable. You can only hope to contain him.

On Tuesday, Thornton reported he’s at the University of Pittsburgh pro day watching one of his clients, wide receiver Jon Baldwin, and Gruden and Bengals receivers coach James Urban are also there. Also on display is running back Dion Lewis. As we’ve noted, NFL.com’s Pat Kirwan has mocked Baldwin to the Bengals at No. 35 in the second round. And at 6-5, he does have the size the Bengals love at wideout. He’s as tall as the late Chris Henry, but he’s about 25 pounds heavier and not as fast, but he can still run very well for a big guy.

As T.J. Houshmandzadeh would say, “Interesting…”

I Think I Believe I will wear my “I Believe” T-shirt under my Tony C.  Red Sox jersey for the Flying Pig 10K.


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