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.
Tags: geathers, Pats, Rey, Skuta, T.O.
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