Five takes

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on August 13, 2010 – 3:59 pm

Five observations:

1. BRADY BUNCH:  It would be nice if at some point Sunday night against the Broncos the Bengals’ first offense could do what the Saints and Patriots did in their opener Thursday night.

In his second series, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady led a 14-play, 93-yard TD drive that featured three throws of at least 20 yards. In his third series, quarterback Drew Brees took New Orleans 86 yards in 20 plays for a TD.   
With Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens, and…well, that’s fairly comparable firepower, isn’t it? But note that the Saints had two three-and-outs before Brees had his scoring drive. And in his first drive Brady couldn’t convert a red-zone turnover into a touchdown and New England had to settle for a field goal.

It makes you start to think, “Why can’t they do that that?” but if you take another look it took each club about six or so snaps to get warmed up and that’s about all the Bengals had Sunday night in Canton.  So don’t hang them just yet, give them some rope. If they get close to a quarter and can’t score, then maybe you can start with the why-can’t-they-do-thats.

One interesting note about Brady’s 17 snaps as reported by The Boston Globe’s Albert Breer. All but three had Brady under center, including a third-and-14 play-action pass that resulted in a 16-yarder to Brandon Tate, a second-year receiver taken in the third round. Used to be you always knew where two things were located in New England. Brady would be in the shotgun and Paul Revere’s statue would be in the North End.  

But the Pats are changing gears, like the Bengals did last year. As Breer notes, they won’t ditch the spread, but they did come out in that first red-zone series with one back, one receiver and three tight ends (two of them prized rookies Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski) in an effort to become more balanced.

Yet you don’t hear anybody complaining that they’re taking the ball out of Brady’s hands. That’s what three Super Bowls get you. Bob Bratkowski, like offensive coordinators everywhere, gets continually ripped. But his ability to execute Marvin Lewis’ vision won them the division last year.
2. T.O. CAN STILL RUN: Maybe I’m nuts, but Terrell Owens looks closer to a No. 1 draft pick than a 36-year-old receiver at the end. I’m just basing that off what he’s done against cornerback Leon Hall in practice. Remember last year? Nobody ran past Hall last season with any consistency. He and cornerback Johnathan Joseph just don’t give up long balls.

Brandon Marshall’s longest catch against them was nine yards. Santonio Holmes’ longest catch against them in two games was 21 yards. The longest catch by a Ravens wide receiver in two games was 23 and they had none of 20 in one game. No Vikings wide receiver had a catch of 20 and neither did any Jets receivers in the last two games. The one
game Hall did get nicked was in San Diego on Vincent Jackson’s 34-yard touchdown catch.

So you’d have to say these two guys can play. If not at a Pro Bowl level then pretty close, and Owens, working on Hall’s side a lot of the time, has managed to get by a few times.

Virtually no one did that last year.

3. NO PANIC ON GEATHERS: The Bengals are trying to figure out what’s wrong with the foot of left end Robert Geathers and have put it in a boot. Word is the worst-case scenario is he might not be able to play until the regular season.

Perfect. The guy got worn down last season, barely ever coming off the field after an offseason he had microfracture knee surgery, and if he can get some time to chill now it probably would be the best thing that ever happened to him and second-round pick Carlos Dunlap.  Dunlap needs snaps. Drink plenty of fluids, kid.

4. FAVORITE ROOKIE: Got to like Vincent Rey, the rookie free agent linebacker out of Duke. He’ll hit you and ask questions later and apparently his comedy standup was the hit of the rookie show. He’s Queens all the way. Grew up in Far Rockaway. Went to Bayside High School. Likes the Mets instead of the Yankees, so you could like him based on that alone. Dad drives a subway train underneath Manhattan.
Of course it’s a longshot, but maybe the practice squad calls. Yet he doesn’t look out of place. He’s far from intimidated. It doesn’t look, as they like to say, that it’s too big for him.
5. TWO-WAY GO: Some of the reactions of moving linebacker Dan Skuta to fullback were interesting.

They didn’t just wake up after Sunday’s game and say, “All those who played fullback or tight end in high school, take one step forward. Michael Johnson, not so fast.”

They scouted Skuta as both a fullback and linebacker when he was coming out of Grand Valley State, sending both running backs coach Jim Anderson and assistant linebackers coach Paul Guenther to work him out.

And head coach Marvin Lewis was intrigued enough that he put Skuta in some offensive meetings this past spring in a potential backup role. Last Tuesday he said it was a good time to make the switch because they see Skuta as playing some linebacker and since he’s well-versed in the defense, they could take some time before the season to school him in the offense and see what he can do.

Even if starting fullback Fui Vakapuna didn’t get hurt it sounds like they would have done it anyway because Skuta can’t remember if Lewis came to him before or after Vakapuna dinged his shoulder.

So the move didn’t come out of left field.

One of the great differences between football and baseball:

In baseball, a guy moving from first base to left field merely has to change gloves and catch a few flies to change positions. But in football, a guy has to change his life and if it’s going to work it can’t be thrown together.

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Just saying

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on June 1, 2010 – 2:24 pm

Just going through some posts and a couple jumped out at me.

One was from The Boot about how there has been outside negativity about Cincinnati sports dating back to the old days of the Reds and this: “Do any of you out there have even the slightest bit of respect for the Yankees? I didn’t think so and those who do, in the words of WC Fields.. Go away..You bother me.

BOOT: As a guy who still vomits when he sees Johnny Bench’s opposite field double into the corner off Bill Lee to open the top of the ninth of Game Two in ’75, I have to disagree.

At least in my world the Reds were always highly-regarded. They were the epitome of class, execution, organization. Cold, hard killers. Professional assassins. They were the Dodgers for that generation of the late ’60s, all the ’70s, and a sliver of the ’80s.

I think they took a huge hit in that department during the Schott era, but it is coming back.  Slowly. Hard to miss with a guy like Jocketty.

As for the Yankees, sorry to bother you.

They turn my stomach, but I’ve got a lot of respect for Jeter, Rivera, Posada. True professionals that I enjoy watching play the game even if they kill me. Just like Roy White, Chris Chambliss, and Ron Guidry back in the day.

Of course, I couldn’t stand the rest. And watching this current crop handle itself, led by the juvenile A-Rod, a guy that will never learn how to act on the field, it is like watching a bunch of Knothole kids when they win.

But I do respect the Big Three and the team as a whole. I respect doctors, too, but I hate going to them.

TEPID:  Your post about Robert Geathers’ declining stats was the inspiration for my Sunday column about the dangers of getting married to individual stats when it comes to football. It is why you are putting Geathers and Andre Caldwell on the bubble.

Then I saw your follow-up with this line: “Individual stats when totaled define a good offense and defense; they are not meaningless.”

But in the years you have Geathers declining, the total defensive rank has risen from 27 to 12 to 4 in the NFL:  Individual stats are meaningless when not put in the context of scheme and personnel.

The stats don’t tell you that last year Geathers was coming off microfracture knee surgery, a major procedure. And they don’t tell you because of the injuries to Peko and Odom, he rarely came off the field. His teammates have so much respect for him because they knew he was hurting and yet he took every snap he could because there was no one else.

The stats also don’t tell you that he’s played a slew of different positions and played different roles over the past three seasons. He started at SAM backer for a month in 2007. He’s played both ends, he’s played inside, he’s played a little nose tackle. His versatility allows them use some 3-4 principles out of a 4-3 base.

And the stats don’t tell you what a stolid, silent leader he’s been. He arrived at age 20, is going into his seventh season, and gives them stability to go along with his versatility.

Yeah, you wish he’d had some more sacks after those 10.5 in ’06. But he’s also in a different role. Back then he was coming off the bench on third down. Now he’s always on the field.  I’m sure Marvin would like more tackles from him, but he gladly took his leadership and toughness last year. To me, Geathers is   the type of player that shows numbers can’t always compute to football production.

Geathers is simply a good, tough, solid player that does a lot of things well. No way is he a bubble guy.

You’ve got a point with Caldwell. He makes the team, but he’ll have his hands full.

Again, I wouldn’t get too wrapped up in your stats. What were they in the first half of the season when he had a vertical threat on the field in Chris Henry? And you can’t compare Caldwell to Houshmandzadeh. It was a different pass offense with different personnel. Housh had Henry, Caldwell had Laveranues Coles. Enough said.

Got a stat for game-winning TDs in last 22 seconds against division foes?

I think he’s going to be OK, but, yeah, he’s going to have to grind it with some other guys to make it. At the very least he’s got to prove he can hold on to the ball.

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