Posted on: October 22, 2010 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2010 6:54 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
The Bengals were supposed to have one of the best receiving corps in the league. With the addition of Terrell Owens – no matter what you think of him off the field, he can still produce – joining Chad Ochocinco, rookie WR Jordan Shipley and rookie TE Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati successfully fulfilled its offseason mission in providing weapons for QB Carson Palmer.
Why, then, are the Bengals struggling on offense?
This week, we talked to Cincinnati receivers coach Mike Sheppard, who’s been in the organization for the past four years and who previously was the head coach at New Mexico and Long Beach State. We asked him about the addition of Owens, why Ochocinco has scored only once this year and what it’s like to be a Hall of Famer.
1. CBSSports : Coming off a loss and a bye week, you’re one of those teams that – and there are probably 10 teams out there like this – you’re not sure what you’re going to get out of them every week. You just don’t have any idea. Where are you guys right now?
Mike Sheppard : From my standpoint there’s still an adjustment with a lot of the players together. It looks like we have some better players, but in the passing game, in reality, Palmer is throwing to only one guy he’s seen before. Terrell, for all that he’s achieved, he’s still new here. We have a rookie tight end and a rookie slot receiver. For anybody, there’s always that adjustment period. We’re still going through it.
CBS : Obviously, you can’t put a number on how long that lasts, but you’d like to think – we’re in the middle of October – that at some point soon, that adjustment will get to where you want it to be.
Sheppard : Yeah, I think so. It has to happen soon. Everybody is aware of it. Everybody is working hard to continue to play together and learn each other better. Sometimes you can’t construct the experience in practice that they’ll see in a game. It’s a matter of playing together. I think we get a little better each time. It’s a matter of being able to put it all together.
2. CBS : There was a lot of talk in the offseason about Owens and whether anybody wanted him. For a long time, nobody did want him. I know he worked out here(in the offseason, and he was just OK. But now that he’s been here, he seems to be playing well.
Sheppard : He’s been great for me.
CBS : Tell me about that whole thing. I know there was some trepidation in the organization about signing him. It was between him and Antonio Bryant, and you guys signed Bryant originally.
Sheppard : The decision there was more about youth. They’re both good players. At that point, that was that decision. In the beginning, we all felt (Owens) would make us better. That’s been true. For me personally, he’s hungry. He listens. He wants to do it your way. He’s like Chad in both of those guys have had some success doing things that are instinctive. He’s been a hard worker. He’s been a player for us. So far, it’s just a matter of getting that experience with Carson.
3. CBS : How disappointing was the Bryant thing? The team sunk a lot of money into him, and he never got healthy.
Sheppard : All of us were. Not disappointed in him, but disappointed he never kicked that (injury). Now, he’s a football player. He has the right approach. He went hard. He talked, and he backed it up. He would have been an excellent addition if he was physically the player he was in the past.
4. CBS : Chad Ochocinco is struggling a little bit. He’s not getting the ball thrown to him as much as T.O. What’s going on with him?
Sheppard : If I’m not mistaken, he got 12 balls thrown to him in the first game. You look at that, and maybe it’s not so true. He’s had some chances. But things tend to come in bunches. In his case, he hasn’t had the same opportunities that he had that first game. Those are things where it’s a lot more about the opportunities. Everything has to be right to get the ball, not just have the play designed to go to you. It has to be right with the style of coverage they play. Sometimes we call the right play and get the wrong coverage.
CBS : Chad has been one touchdown away from breaking the club record for touchdowns for, like, six weeks. It’s bizarre he’s not scoring touchdowns. It just seems a little odd, because it’s been so prevalent the past six or seven years.
Sheppard : If you look at it, you’re going to be hard-pressed to remember any throws in the end zone to him. He’s the straw that stirs the drink here. He’s the guy that everybody knows we’re going to attempt to get him the football. They start with him (defensively). A lot of it is because they’re aware of Chad and what he’s doing.
CBS : The only one I remember is when Chad was going across the back of the end zone, and it was tipped or he missed it or something like that.
Sheppard : That was a hard deal, because the throw was supposed to go the other way. It can come back to Chad late, but the way it worked out was it was more of a quick scramble by Carson, and as Chad started to come open, Carson had to throw it before he knew where (Ochocinco) was going to be. So, he just took a guess, and it was a little bit overshot.
5. CBS : You went back to your high school last week because you were inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. Now, when somebody asks you if you’re a Hall of Famer, you can say that you are. Sheppard: It’s such a great honor, especially when you know how many people that were around you that were better than you. You know? Sometimes I think to myself if it isn’t more a recognition of professional achievement as a coach in the NFL.
CBS : You said all three of your kids were there …
Sheppard : Actually, all four were there.
CBS : But that’s got to be a pretty cool to be recognized for something like that.
Sheppard : It’s a great honor. It’s almost embarrassing from the standpoint that really, deep down, you ask how many others are more deserving than you. But yeah, no one will ever appreciate that honor more than I.
Posted on: October 22, 2010 5:26 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2010 6:23 pm
Posted by Will Brinson
There are eight divisions in football. You probably know that.
What you might not know is that there are 13 teams in first place right now. 13! That's the first time in NFL history that this many teams have been in first place six weeks into the year.
Want more proof that there's parity in the NFL? For only the second time in history, there are 21 teams with a .500 or better record -- which is bananas, frankly.
Not to mention Cincinnati and Minnesota at 2-3 and we have the three cellar dwellers of the AFC West kicking it at 2-4. (Granted, they're not within "striking distance" of .500, but they're just two games back of first place.)
All of that is to say, there are only four teams that you can reasonably say are finished six weeks into the year -- the Panthers, the Bills, the Browns and the Lions.
Even Detroit's got a shot given how topsy-turvy that division looks.
Of course, this isn't playing out with just shoddy football -- 51 games this year have been decided by eight points or less, which is equal to the third highest number through seven weeks since 1994.
Factor in that only two games this week have spreads of more than 10 points (nine games are your standard "three-pointers"), and it's pretty obvious that, right now, we have some of the most even-field-football going on in a long time.
Make sure to enjoy it.
Remember how the Atlanta Falcons gave up some big plays to the Eagles? Well, that's part of their "thing" -- they have a talented defense but one that's young and it can burn them if teams take shots downfield.
That could be problematic in Week 7, considering that Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco rank second and fourth, respectively, in active players with receptions of 40-plus yards.
Enjoy a good shootout? Like watching fantasy players pile up points? Then you should probably check out the Jaguars-Chiefs game. Jacksonville tops the league with eight 40-yard-plus passes allowed and give up an obscene 8.8 yards per pass to opponents, not to mention 263.7 yards per game in the air. KC's not that much better, having given up five 40-plus bombs and 249.4 yards per game through the air so far this season.
Of course, they haven't played Trent Edwards and/or Todd Bouman all year, though.
Neither the Jaguars or the Chiefs are so bad against the pass that they're on pace to "top" the most passing yards allowed per game since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, a distinction held by the 1995 Atlanta Falcons, who coughed up an average of 283.8 yards per game. The Houston Texans, Washington Redskins and Seattle Seahawks are all currently "better" (it's actually worse, but it's Friday, and we're feeling generous). Out of the three, clearly the Texans look the worst, allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete 68.9 percent of their passes for 306.2 yards per game so far, with a QB rating of 106.3, 8.2 yards per completion and 14 total TDs to four interceptions. Things are very, very bad. We'll talk about whether they can keep it up next week, as they're on bye now.
But the Redskins and Seahawks are both playing, so it's worth questioning whether or not they can give up enough yardage to stay on pace. The Seahawks get Max Hall and the Cardinals, so it doesn't seem likely that they'll cough up 290 yards -- this is the same Cards team that upset the defending champs without scoring an offensive touchdown last week.
The Redskins get the Bears, who despite running a Mike Martz high-flying passing offense, are mediocre as mess this season, ranking 22nd in the league in passing yards per game at 192.8; Jay Cutler, as you may know, has been sacked approximately 342 times so far (okay, "only" 27), and he's thrown six touchdowns against three picks.
In short, it doesn't seem likely that either team will be close to the Texans after this week -- even if you tack on 50 yards t the Bears and Cardinals respective averages (because, you see, they're going against poor passing defenses) the Redskins end the week with 290.26 yards allowed per game and the Seahawks fall all the way to 276.10 per game.
If either one plays well, or Max Hall and Jay Cutler act like Max Hall and Jay Cutler, the Texans could be far and away up top for an amazingly "productive" season against the pass.
The Chargers are the top team in the NFL in terms of offensive and defensive yardage, and yet, have a losing record.
Is raw yardage an impossibly silly statistic to use in terms of gauging the best team in the NFL? Absolutely, although it's not usually indicative of a team that's 2-4.
In 2009, the Saints (Super Bowl champions) were the top offensive yardage team, while the Jets were the top defensive yardage team. In 2008, it was the Saints and Steelers (Super Bowl champions). In 2007, it was the Patriots (Super Bowl participants) and Steelers. In … well, you get where I'm going here, right?
Andy and I discussed the rarity of this in our podcast, but just how abnormal is it? Michael David Smith notes at the Wall St. Journal that only eight teams since the 1970 merger have ever led both offensive and defensive yardage in a week. Although out of those eight, several led multiple weeks, for a total of 18 weeks, but we're talking all-time great teams here, with the 1972 Miami Dolphins and 2007 New England Patriots in the mix.
Amazingly, Brett Favre doesn't already (by himself) hold a longevity record -- he and John Elway are currently tied for most games started in one stadium, with 118, which, by the way, is an absolutely bananas number when you consider that free agency exists, teams only play half their games at home and how hard it is to get even 16 straight starts.
Anyway, Elway obviously has all 118 of his at Mile High Stadium -- Favre, as you might have guessed, has started 118 at Lambeau Field.
All complaints about the drama surrounding Favre aside, it's still incredibly ironic/amazing that he'll break that record as a Minnesota Viking.
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Posted on: October 22, 2010 2:36 pm
Speaking of the Titans…it’s now been one year since they started 0-6. Since then, they’ve gone 12-4 and, statistically speaking, been one of the most solid teams in all of football.
Chad Ochocinco sent T-shirts to some of the Falcons players this week. So, Roddy White responded with this homemade video. Guerilla trash talk, gotta love it.
Posted on: October 20, 2010 5:34 pm
Edited on: October 20, 2010 5:37 pm
Posted by Andy Benoit
Posted on: October 20, 2010 3:21 pm
Posted by Will Brinson
Rey Maualuga joined the CBSSports.com Football Podcast Wednesday -- just in time to discuss the changes in the NFL's policy for suspending and fining players for "big hits."
We got Rey's take on those changes (I don't want to speak for him, so you make the call, but he didn't sound particularly enamored) and what he'll do to adjust his game in light of the differences.
We also discuss what life's like in the Bengals locker room with Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, how the Bengals are handling two straight close losses heading into the bye, and some of the stuff he's doing with Under Armour to help stay safe on the field.
Hit play and/or download below, and make sure to subscribe via iTunes.
If you can't view the podcast, click here to download.
Posted on: October 14, 2010 1:12 pm
Posted by Will Brinson
Got a link for the Hot Routes? Send it to Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
Tags: Albert Haynesworth, Alex Smith, Chad Ochocinco, Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Colt McCoy, Dallas Cowboys, David Carr, Green Bay Packers, Greg Jennings, Jay Cutler, Jesse Holley, Mark Sanchez, Mike Singletary, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Tashard Choice, Tim Tebow, Washington Redskins
Posted on: October 10, 2010 12:34 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Earlier we told you about how Bengals WR Terrell Owens thinks he’s pretty much playing for free. While that’s awfully debatable – as the millions of unemployed citizens would trade his salary for theirs – he probably soon will figure out that it REALLY sucks to have to pay to come to work.
At about noon today, Owens tweeted this: “A lucky fan wearing my jersey 2day will get a signed football by Me & Ocho Cinco! My asst will pick U out!! Good luck!”
As Chad Ochocinco taught us, tweeting less than 90 minutes before kickoff or before the media postgame session is complete is a violation of the NFL’s social media policy. Since he – or one of his associates – posted that message an hour before the Bengals-Buccaneers game kicks off, that might be a problem.
As Bengals Rapid Reporter Paul Dehner Jr. points out, Ochocinco was fined $25,000 for tweeting in the middle of a preseason game. Looks like Owens could be the second Bengals player to face a fine for tweeting inappropriately.
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Posted on: October 8, 2010 12:53 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2010 1:02 pm
Posted by Will Brinson
Strolling the Sideline takes a look at random miscellanea from the upcoming weeks games.
On Sunday, you will likely hear Dan Dierdorf reinforce something during the "NFL on CBS" that he said on our "Audibles" section -- the Indianapolis Colts are a "little angry right now."
They're 2-2, they're not considered "elite," they're lacking safeties, and most people are probably only hanging onto them because they have this Peyton Manning fella.
So here's my question: Would you bet against Peyton Manning coming off a loss?
Probably not, and the logic is exactly what Dierdorf said -- they're angry. No one wants to pick against Peyton when he's angry. So the notion that he and the Colts play much better following a loss seems pretty rational. Having said that, though, Manning's numbers immediately following a single loss aren't as badass as you might think.
Okay, so quickly, yes, two of the losses were after the Colts had clinched (see: notes) and if you take those out, he's pretty darn good. But nothing insanely elite -- the San Diego game in 2007 is one of his worst as a professional, even if they nearly won.
Still, at home, he's 2-0, and while the Chiefs might be undefeated, betting against Manning in this situation is probably ill-advised. Which is, um, exactly why I took Kansas City +8 this week. Crap.
Randy Moss will become the sixth player in NFL history to play in 17 regular season games when the Vikings meet the Jets on Monday night, after this little trade that you might have heard about this week.
The others? Chris Singleton (Patriots and Dolphins in 1993), Dexter Carter (Jets to 49ers in 1995), Jerry Rice (Raiders and Seahawks in 2004), Micah Ross (Chargers and Panthers in 2004) and Will Witherspoon (Rams and Eagles in 2009). Unfortunately if you own Moss in fantasy leagues, you still lose since, you know, yeah.
Kyle Orton is the current NFL leader in passing yards. Once you've had time to catch your breath, let's figure out what would happen if we froze football in it's current state and simulated the rest of the season based on current defenses. (Yes, 100 percent totally improbable, but still fun.)
Orton would throw for 2,455.8 more yards based on the averages allowed by the remaining opponents, giving him 3,875 yards on the season. Clearly, this is not a scientific measurement of how much production the Denver quarterback will have for the rest of the season -- but is it crazier to assume that a) Orton will fall short of 4,000 yards or b) that he'll break Dan Marino's passing record?
Because right now, if you multiply his total by four, that's what he'll do, and by a good margin.
Pretty good chance when the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals meet that Max Hall won't look over at Gregg Williams, grin, and yell "thanks for all the blitzes!"
But he can still smile knowing that he's the first undrafted rookie to start a game in the season's first five weeks since 1987. What? That's impressive!
We've seen an insane amount of kick return touchdowns -- 11, thanks Leon Washington! -- this season. The most through five weeks in the NFL, since 1970, is 16.
And where should you be looking for some of those record-breaking five? How about the Chargers-Raiders game, where both teams rank in the bottom 10 in average kick return yardage allowed, not to mention having coughed up three of those teeters on their own.
Think the Bucs have talented wideouts? They do. Think Chad Ochocinco is good? He is.
Well, convenient trivia time -- Buccaneers wide receivers coach Eric Yarber was one of Ochocinco's coaches in college at Oregon State. (Where, incidentally, he also coached T.J. Houshmandzadeh.) And you'll never believe who he worked with in San Francisco while Yarber was with the 49ers.
Okay, you probably will, so I'll just tell you -- Terrell Owens.
Brian Westbrook has one rushing attempt for the San Francisco 49ers this season. That is one more than the number of games he played in without taking a snap the entire time with the Eagles.
Think about that -- guy struggles with his health his whole career but dominates when he's on the field, finally gets booted by his old team, takes less money to sign with a "contender" like San Fran and then they don't even play him. It's outrageous.
Do you think that the Titans' Chris Johnson cares about playing well against the Cowboys?
Small chance -- scope the first round from the 2008 NFL Draft and the running backs taken in the first round. What a great first round for running backs, huh? Darren McFadden's the only one who hasn't rushed for 1,000 yards in a ... ohhhh, you're right. Felix Jones, an underutilized straight speedster who was taken two spots in front of Johnson (who was considered someone that would become an underutilized straight speedster, whoops).
I would say he cares.
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