In honor of tight end Jermaine Gresham’s 19-yard route on the last play of the first quarter Sunday night, here is one man’s quick Glance at the 33-24 win over the Broncos:
» The first offensive line held up, didn’t it in pass protection? Of course, there was no Elvis Dumervil out there, but then Dumervil didn’t have a sack against them in last year’s regular-season opener.
Then again, Denver, which now has no pass rushers, played more vanilla than Dallas and played pretty much straight up with no blitzes or games along the front and the Bengals responded after an urgent week of practice. The Eagles, in here Friday night, always seem to play aggressively on defense so that should be an interesting first half from a protection standpoint.
Quarterback Carson Palmer did his damage in that third drive against a secondary that didn’t have cornerback Champ Bailey in there, but it looked like the rest of the DBs that started were.
It’s hard to tell about the running game because that’s all about rhythm and with the first two series scripted, they’re trying to see different things instead of setting up a game plan. Take away running back Cedric Benson’s 21-yard run and he had nine yards on eight carries. But then again, in that stretch Palmer threw almost twice as many passes (15) and you can’t see that happening during the season.
» Especially when you’ve got a weapon around like No. 2 backup Bernard Scott. A 38-yard run and 46-yard catch on a screen pass and now he’s averaging 24 yards a catch and 5.6 yards a run in the preseason. Combine that with the regular season and preseason of last year and he’s averaging 4.8 per run and more than 15 per catch. Are we to see some kind of Great Scott package to get him about 10 touches a game?
» Remember back to even just two years ago when the closest thing the Bengals had to a punt returner was Mike Martin? Except the problem is he was then the 48-year-old coach at Taft High School. After Peter Warrick left and went away in 2004, it wasn’t exactly a Billy White Shoes Hall of Fame. You either had guys you didn’t want to do it in T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Deltha O’Neal, or guys that struggled with it in Keiwan Ratliff and Antonio Chatman. Hey, Skyler Green and Leon Hall actually combined to return 11 punts in 2007 and 2008.
Now you’ve got three guys that could be the No. 1 punt returner on any club in the league.
Wide receiver Quan Cosby is following up the best year a Bengals punt returner has had since Martin led the NFL in 1984 with more, popping one for 43 and another for 17 on Sunday night. And he’s fighting to make the roster. The two guys that look to make it, wide receiver Jordan Shipley and cornerback Adam Jones, have also gone long. Shipley encored his 63-yarder last week against Dallas with a 21-yarder Sunday, and Jones got in the fray with a nifty 28-yarder up the sideline, aided, by the way, with a Scott block.
So you’ve got a 63, a 43, and a 28 from each guy. In the four seasons from ’05-‘08, the longest return was Ratliff’s 38-yarder in ’06. Jones’ 28-yarder would have been their longest one in 2005 and 2007, when they didn’t have one of at least 20 yards. And Shipley already has two.
» More depth?
What happens on the defensive line and secondary now that they have to keep four running backs instead of three because of the foot injury to Brian Leonard? They very well may have to go one less at one of those spots with either eight defensive linemen or nine DBs, but try to break it down and it shows you how much talent they truly have.
The D-line looked active; although there was some surprise how Denver’s offensive line pushed the starters back early on double teams. But the kids continue to impress. Fourth-rounder Geno Atkins, the rookie defensive tackle, has 3.5 sacks in the two games after 1.5 on Sunday. They’ve always liked second-year defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. And doesn’t Frostee Rucker, who plays both end and tackle, always do something? Last night he scooped up Tim Tebow’s fumble that wasn’t for a 34-yard touchdown.
(Stat note: The play-by-play sheet incorrectly identified Tank Johnson as the player accessed the personal foul on a hit to quarterback Kyle Orton that revived a TD drive after linebacker Brandon Johnson knocked away a third-down pass in the end zone. It should have been on lineman Antwan Odom.)
Second-rounder Carlos Dunlap got his first snaps at end. He may end up being more suited to play tackle, but he flew around a little bit and got a few shots on Tebow, his old Florida teammate.
Right now you’ve got 11. You’ve got your four starters (Geathers, Odom, Peko, Tank Johnson). You’ve got the two guys that can play both end and tackle in Rucker and Jon Fanene. You’ve got the run stopper Pat Sims. You’ve got the draft picks in Dunlap and Atkins. You’ve got the young vets in McDonald and Orien Harris.
Wow, if they keep only eight. And, wow if they keep nine, too.
What about the secondary if they only keep nine with five corners? You’ve got the top three of Joseph, Hall, and Adam Jones and then a third-round pick Brandon Ghee (hurt Sunday), two guys that played No. 3 for a season in Morgan Trent and David Jones, and a rookie free agent in Johnny Sears that has impressed despite picking up back-to-back pass interference calls against the Broncos. David Jones’ 24-yard interception return for a TD on Sunday served notice he hasn’t gone away. But doesn’t a team that plays six games against 4,000-yard QBs need as many corners as they can get?
Nice problem to have.
» It’s a big surprise that the first defense has allowed as many long drives as it has in the first two games. Sunday’s three pass-interference calls against the corners (the other was on Leon Hall) were uncharacteristic, as were their problems with the play-action pass.
But don’t you get the idea that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is holding onto a lot of stuff until Sept. 12 in Foxboro? He was as vanilla Sunday as Broncos D-coordinator Don Martindale.
Tags: defensive depth, O-line, punt returns, Scott
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