Tag:Cincinnati Bengals
Posted on: September 13, 2010 2:35 am
Edited on: September 13, 2010 2:38 am
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10 Sunday stories that deserve your attention

Posted by Andy Benoit

1. The Bears are who we thought they were

For months we’ve been saying that Mike Martz’s system won’t work in Chicago. You can’t ask those mediocre receivers to run slow-developing routes – they just won’t get open consistently, we said. You can’t expect that putrid offensive line to sustain blocks in pass protection long enough for Cutler to take regular seven-stop drops, we said. And Cutler – oh jeez – you can’t ask Cutler to read the entire the field and take chances without making costly mistakes, it’s just not in his DNA (we said). J. Cutler (US Presswire)

Well, after one game, it appears that we were…exactly right.

Sure, Chicago beat Detroit. But teams have beaten Detroit 30 times in just the past two years alone. And had Matthew Stafford not been knocked out prior to halftime, the outcome probably would have been different (the Lions, led by Shaun Hill, scored zero points in the second half). And let’s not forget the controversial Calvin Johnson call at the end.

But all that’s actually beside the point. When the Bears watch the film on Monday, they’ll see an offensive line that gave up four sacks and put Cutler under continuous duress. (Heck, Lions journeyman defensive end Turk McBride – Turk McBride, for crying out loud! – looked like an All-Pro going up against Frank Omiyale in this game.) That same offensive line also failed to help its running backs punch in a go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter on four consecutive goal-to-go situations from the one-yard line.

One shudders to think what the Cowboys front seven will do to this group next week…

2. Safety first (if you’re a fan of moronic decisions)

How much disdain must Chan Gailey have for his passing offense to make the ridiculous decision that he made late against the Miami Dolphins? Trailing by three and facing fourth-and-10 on their own one-yard line with under 2:00 to play and two timeouts, the Bills opted not to try to pick up the first down, but instead, to take a safety.

On the surface, taking a safety always seems smart. The reason for this is because it’s such an unconventional move that there’s no way it could ever be as dumb as it sounds (if you explained the concept of taking a safety to someone who never watches football, at some point you’d hear yourself say “and now we’re going to give the other team two points.” Give them two points? What? Why?) In this case, the move was as dumb as it sounds.

The Bills gained nothing in field position by taking the safety because, instead of playing for a field goal (which would mean reaching the 30-yard-line or so), they now had to play for a touchdown (which, Bills fans might not remember these days, would mean reaching the goal-line). Buffalo gave up all their timeouts just to get the ball back with 36 seconds to go at their own 20-yard-line (and had the Dolphins gotten a better punt on the play, the Bills could very well have ended up right back on their goal-line again).

By taking the safety, the Bills were essentially hoping for – nay, planning for – a miracle. Evidently Gailey thought it would take an even bigger miracle for Trent Edwards and those no-name receivers (no-names save for Lee Evans, that is) to gain 10 yards. If you have that little faith in your passing game, you’re officially screwed.

3. Patriots D looks sharp

This was one of those games where the boxscore lies. The boxscore says that Chad Ochocinco caught 12 passes for 159 yards. It says Terrell Owens caught seven passes for 53 yards. (Batman and Robin? More like ROBIN and batman.) The stars may have put up good numbers, but the truth is, the Patriots secondary outplayed the Bengals’ receivers – especially early on, when Cincy wasn’t throwing out of desperation and the Patriots weren’t protecting a huge lead.

New starting defensive backs Devin McCourty and Patrick Chung were both outstanding. McCourty, the first-round rookie corner whom some are saying is already the best defensive back on the roster, stifled Owens on several deep balls in the first half. Chung led the team with 16 tackles, many of them vicious hits.

Phil Simms made an excellent point about this young Patriots defense: it’s faster. A lot faster. The Patriots have prioritized speed in recent drafts (except for the selection of linebacker Brandon Spikes, who had to have a sex tape leaked in order to make people forget about something even more embarrassing: his 40-time). On Sunday, that speed translated into more big plays.

Note: In a follow-up to that last parenthetical jab at Spikes, it’s only fair to mention that the second-round rookie was very solid in his starting debut at inside linebacker.

4. Devin Hester no longer a star return artist

Back in 2006 and 2007 when we said Devin Hester had already had a legendary career’s worth of touchdown returns, we didn’t mean Hester should call it a career for touchdown returns. But do you realize Hester has not returned a punt for a score in three years?

Sunday was a sobering example of how far Hester has fallen (by the way, his fall ironically coincides with his promotion to a starting receiver role). Six times, the Lions punted from backed up in their own end zone. On the day, Hester had five punt return opportunities – most of them on line-drive balls he caught in the middle of the field. His total return yards? 17. Three years ago, in a game like this, he would have had 17 touchdowns (don’t worry about the math – he would have found a way; Hester was supernatural back then.)

There’s no reason Hester can’t recapture his magic – he’s only 27. But seriously, what’s going on here?

5. Running backs relevant…sorta

It’s a passing league these days. Bu, like all you misguided fantasy players who don’t realize that your fantasy football scoring system is flawed, we’re going to give the running backs some love.
A. Foster (US Presswire)
For the youngsters, it will have to be tough love. The two electrifyingly speedy first-round rookie runners who were supposed to transform their respective offenses failed to get the wheels turning Sunday. C.J. Spiller ran the ball seven times for six yards against the Dolphins. The only part of Spiller that looked truly fast was his mind, which seemed to be spinning out of control at times. He was unusually hesitant on contact.

In Detroit (and can you believe we’ve now fit three Lions-Bears bits in this entire piece?) Jahvid Best got 14 carries but amassed only 20 yards. At least Best found the end zone two times.

No need to worry about either young runner at this point – it’s only one week, after all. They’ll get better.

On to the love…

There’s especially no need to worry about the runners in the AFC South. Maurice Jones-Drew gained a hearty 98 yards on 23 carries against the Broncos. Facing a speedy but diminutive Colts run defense that has decided it will be porous again this year, Arian Foster, I think, became the NFL’s first 1,000-yard rusher in 2010. (By the way, Colts fans, no need to worry about your team’s run D– last time the Colts were this bad was 2006, when their SUPER BOWL CHAMPION defense ranked 32nd against the run.) Finally, in Tennessee, Chris Johnson posted 142 yards on 27 carries, which, unfortunately, means he’s behind pace for his ridiculous goal of 2,500 yards rushing on the season.

Most important of all, the teams of these three  running backs all won, creating a huge log-jam atop the AFC South.

6. A star is born

There is a new star in the broadcasting world, and his name is Jim Mora Jr. Thank God Jim Mora Sr.’s son never lead the Seahawks to the PLAYOFFS?! Now we get to listen to Mora call games with Dick Stockton and Charles Davis on Fox each week.

Mora made his television debut in the Falcons-Steelers game. He was extremely intelligent and, for a man ostensibly looking to get back into coaching, he was shockingly blunt. Mora’s best line came during a rant about his friend Bruce Arians calling a pass late in the fourth quarter on second-and-five before the two minute warning. “That play-call was a tragedy”, More said. If you get a chance, tune into a Mora game. You’ll be enlightened and entertained.

7. Redskins don’t win…Cowboys lose

The nice thing about fumbling away seven points on a meaningless play to end the first half is that it is such a huge mistake that no other mistake you make can possibly feel that bad. No matter what, as mistakes go, you simply can’t top that one. Though credit the Cowboys for trying. Specifically, credit Alex Barron. The former first-round pick showed everyone why he landed in Dallas in the first place. Barron wracked up multiple penalties in the second half, including the game-loser on the final play. After the clock struck 0:00, Cris Colinsworth cleverly shared a “get well soon” wish for Marc Colombo.
T. Romo (US Presswire)
It’s too bad we’re highlighting Barron’s mistakes because the man was not utterly awful the entire game. Of course, the Cowboys clearly didn’t trust their makeshift front five to begin with. Virtually every pass Tony Romo threw came off a three-step drop. There was a litany of one-step drop throws (until the final two minutes, some people probably wondered if Dez Bryant actually knew how to run routes, as the Cowboys kept throwing smoke screens to the first-round wideout).

Dallas’ offensive line issues will get fixed once Kyle Kosier and Marc Colombo are healthy. By the way, all this relates well to our next topic (a bonus topic!)…

7.BONUS. Does preseason matters after all?

Probably not. But it’s worth noting that there were three offenses that looked awful in the preseason: Dallas, Carolina and Chicago. Well, the games count now, but these units still stink. The Dallas offense scored seven points in Week 1. The Carolina offense had five turnovers. The Chicago offense had four turnovers and scored only 19 points against a rebuilding Detroit defense. This isn’t enough evidence to overturn the beloved “preseason doesn’t mean a darn thing” axiom, but the continued struggles of these teams are worth pointing out (which we’re doing here).

8. Lightning strikes, so don’t play football?

The Jaguars-Broncos game was delayed 30 minutes during the third quarter because of lightning. This prompted me to send the following email Greg Aiello, head of the NFL’s public relations department:

Hi Greg, we're going to pose this question in our NFL Facts and Rumors Blog, but thought we'd pose it to you guys first: Why does the NFL stop games because of lightning? All we ever hear is that the odds of getting struck by lightning are about the same as the odds of winning the lottery. So why pause a game because of it? Most of the 70,000 fans in attendance can't leave a stadium and get to safe cover that quickly anyway. Is it really worth the major inconvenience? 

(This email was sent after midnight eastern time, so if the league does have a response, it will come after this is published. We’ll throw it up if they send a response.)

9. Problem in Indy?

This is the perfect game for us media folk to blow way out of proportion. The Colts always beat the Texans…until now. The Colts can’t lose when Peyton Manning is on fire…until now. The Texans fit the description of a team on the rise. Etc.

We must be careful not to get carried away about this outcome. But we also must ask the appropriate alarmist question: is Indy’s offensive line a problem? Left tackle Charlie Johnson wound up playing in this game (he’d been out for about a month with a foot injury), but it didn’t matter. Mario Williams dominated far more than his stats (four tackles, one sack) suggest.

And how about this: did you ever in a million years think Peyton Manning would post 40 completions for 433 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in a LOSING effort? What the heck do we make of that?

10. Derek Anderson-Larry Fitzgerald woes

So I decided on Sunday around 6:30 ET to write about how Derek Anderson and Larry Fitzgerald were not on the same page – or not even in the same book, for that matter. Obviously, Fitzgerald’s game-winning 21-yard touchdown reception put a dent in that angle. But not a big enough dent to obliterate it.

I still say the Cardinals have a problem with their passing game. Fitzgerald doesn’t trust Anderson right now – nor should he. Anderson’s accuracy issues were evident several times Sunday. Twelve of the 15 passes thrown Fitzgerald’s way fell incomplete. Fitzgerald’s body language reeked of frustration. And all this was against a hapless Rams secondary.

It’s no surprise the Cardinals begged Kurt Warner to come out of retirement a few days ago.

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Posted on: September 12, 2010 10:13 pm
 

Ochocinco, Owens odd behavior beginning already

Posted by Will Brinson

The only reasonably acceptable solution to dealing with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens is mediocrity. If they win too much, the celebrations will overwhelm us. And if they lose, the negative energy will engulf us.

Proof of the latter came on Sunday when Owens and Ochocinco weren't present for the Hail Mary attempt at the end of the first half. Marvin Lewis was asked where Owens was responded by saying he was "being looked at" without any more discussion.

"That's our business, OK?" he said.

Owens himself was either a) confused, b) refusing to talk, c) angry, or d) all of the above.

"Coach said he would address that," he said when asked by reporters why he wasn't on the field.

Reporters continued wondering about his whereabouts, and he continued to become more of a), b), c) and d) until he finally dismissed them. Ochocinco wasn't much more helpful, telling reporters that, "Everything I have to say, Terrell will relay for me."

Perhaps they don't think anyone's familiar with the term "triangulation," because this is a pretty classic case of it. Or maybe they're in denial.

Or maybe, just maybe, they built up expectations for their season by talking nonstop about Batman and Robin and then when they found out that they're gonna need Superman to be an elite AFC team, they just got a little upset.

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Posted on: September 12, 2010 4:58 pm
 

Moss: No new contract is a 'slap in the face'

Posted by Will Brinson

Randy Moss recently made some preseason noise when he told CBSSports.com that he wanted a new deal and felt "not wanted" by the Patriots as a result of their not giving him more money.

Following the Patriots romp over the Bengals on Sunday (the score was closer than the game), Moss again emphasized his desire for a new deal, only this time during the postgame press conference.

He stated that if New England didn't offer him a new deal, it would be a slap "in the face" -- the word "smack" has also been thrown out on Twitter, so the exact verbiage isn't precise, but Moss' intention is.

However, despite his uncorked nature during the team's press conference, Moss said he "didn't want to leave" New England and was fully prepared to play the entire season out on his current contract.

"If I'm wanted here, I want to be here," Moss said. "If I'm not, I'm not. It's a job."

Moss was also asked about the upcoming matchup with the Jets, and responded by saying that he "prided my offseason on staying off Revis Island."

That's all good and well, but you would have to imagine that he should be more worried about staying out of Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft's doghouse -- public comments like these don't often sit well with those two, especially with the Patriots coming off of a feel-good, dominating performance against the Bengals.

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Posted on: September 12, 2010 2:39 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2010 2:48 pm
 

Patriots surprisingly destroying Bengals

W. Welker celebrates one of his TDs today against Cincinnati (AP). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The Bengals have been a sexy pick to win the AFC North. I’ve been asked over and over again about how good the Ravens will be and if the Bengals have a chance to win the division. “Um, yeah,” I say. “The Bengals did sweep the division last year to win it. Remember?”

The Bengals also were a sexy pick to beat the Patriots today in Foxboro. And in reality, this was a big game for Cincinnati.

So much for sexy.

At the end of the first half, the Patriots are annihilating Cincinnati 24-3. We’ve already told you about Wes Welker and his two touchdowns, but we haven’t talked about New England’s defense, which has made RB Cedric Benson irrelevant (10 carries, 28 yards) and the Patriots young secondary which has done a good job containing Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.

Meanwhile, the Bengals defense isn’t stopping anybody.

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Posted on: September 10, 2010 10:01 pm
 

Antwan Odom could be in the clear

Posted by Andy Benoit

Earlier we reported that Bengals defensive end Antwan Odom is facing a four-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. You may have heard that Odom is appealing. A. Odom (US Presswire)

NFL.com’s Steve Wyche offers some of the details from the appeal. Odom expects to be cleared of any wrongdoing because, according to sources, the banned element he tested positive for is contained in a prescribed medication. As Wyche writes, “There is a provision in the NFL’s banned substance policy that allows players to take prescription medicines that could contain banned substances or elements of a banned substance.

Odom will play Sunday against the Patriots.

More from Wyche’s article:

Odom is appealing the positive test but it is not known how long that process would take. He is expected to be allowed to play through that process. The source said that Odom takes medications for certain medical conditions but would not specify those conditions or the prescribed medications. The positive test result did not involve performance enhancing drugs, recreational drugs or alcohol, the source said.

This falls in line with what Odom has said all along. Earlier, he tweeted, "Yes, I tested positive for a banned substance but it wasn't steroids or [performance-enhancing drug. More details to come but for now it's a league issue that's under appeal. Just know that I would never cheat to gain an edge in this game that I love."

Odom, 28, is Cincy’s best pass-rusher. In fact, he might be the team’s only true pass-rusher. He led the Bengals with eight sacks last season despite missing the final nine-plus games with a torn Achilles. Odom recovered from the injury in time for training camp, but he missed practice time with an illness and sore knee. Still, he’s good to go Sunday.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: September 9, 2010 11:43 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2010 11:46 pm
 

Odom says positive test 'wasn't steroids or PEDs'

Posted Will Brinson


Reports surfaced earlier -- starting with the awesomely named 'Nati blog Three Way Chili 'Nati -- that Antwan Odom was facing a four-game suspension for a positive test of a banned substance.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk confirmed the potentially looming suspension, but that might not have been necessary, as Odom himself tweeted a confirmation of a positive test earlier.
To my fans and teammates: Please don't believe the rumors. Yes I tested positive for a banned substance but it wasn't steroids or PEDs. More details to come but for now it's a league issue that's under appeal. Just know that I would never cheat to gain an edge in this game that I love. Don't lose your faith in me and please don't pass judgement based on vicious rumors until all the facts are known. Thank you for all your support I really need it now. I all of you, Antwan Yes, that does sound similar to Brian Cushing's situation, thanks for asking. Except that Odom's not waiting until the end of the year to discuss it. Guess he learned the lesson in terms of managing publicity and handling things before they get out of hand.

Odom's case should be interesting too, considering the Bengals play against the Patriots in Week 1. If the league is already looking into scheduling an appeal, Foxboro isn't that far from New York City.

And certainly since Odom has now taken the discussion of why he failed a test public, they won't want to allow him to play the entire season under scrutiny from the press, the public and opponents.

And the Bengals may want to get the suspension out of the way as well: following the Pats, they play the Ravens, but then get the Panthers, Browns and Buccaneers, the latter two being about as easy a set of games as anyone can get.

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Posted on: September 9, 2010 7:27 pm
 

Chad Ochocinco guest hosting WWE Raw

Posted by Will Brinson

Chad Ochocinco, as announced by WWE on Thursday, will host "Raw" when it takes place in Cincinnati on September 13.

Oddly enough, this really isn't that surprising, right? In fact, the WWE site says it best : "So what's left for Chad Ochocinco? Gust hosting Raw, of course!"

The WWE site also mentions Chad's iPhone app as well as his cereal, with links no less, so it seems safe to say that there's some sort of synergy at work here. (Finding out that Ochocinco announces something to the crowd about his app wouldn't be that shocking either, honestly; and a half-price download for anyone in the crowd with an iPhone would just be pure genius.)

Either way, the good news is that if you're a wrestling fan who lives in Cincy and somehow hasn't gotten your full quota of Ochocinco before the season starts, there's an event coming up just for you.

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Posted on: September 9, 2010 11:30 am
Edited on: September 9, 2010 12:06 pm
 

Matchup Focus: Bengals DB vs. Patriots WR

Posted by Andy Benoit

It will be strength on strength when the Bengals corners line up against the Patriots wideouts (Sunday, 1:00, CBS).

First, understand something: New England’s receiving corps features the same two stars as 2007 (Wes Welker and Randy Moss), but it does not feature the same explosiveness.
R. Moss (US Presswire)
At 33, Moss has dissolved into strictly a straight-line receiver. This isn’t the end of the world – we’re talking about arguably the greatest deep threat of all time. Moss doesn’t quite have the wheels he had in Minnesota, but his speed still ranks in the NFL’s upper 20 percentile. More importantly, he’s a master at tracking a deep ball and disguising his intentions when exerting for a catch. That’s why he was still able to post 1,264 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

The problem is, Moss is no longer a premium threat when changing directions. He has stiff hips and limited agility. Thus, instead of running any route on the tree, he now only shines running the 9 Route (fly pattern). Moss has never been a good route runner, but he at least used to be dangerous enough to command safety help simply by being on the field. Now, if the Patriots want Moss to command safety help, they have to design plays specifically for him to do so. This ultimately limits the rest of their offense (just a bit).

The Bengals will likely play a safety over the top against Moss, though in cornerback Johnathan Joseph, they have perhaps the best deep-ball man-defender in the AFC not named Revis. Joseph has excellent catch-up speed and a keen sense for timing his attack on a hanging ball. (By the way, in case you’re wondering, Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie is the best deep-ball man-defender in the NFC.)

More concerning to the Bengals should be Wes Welker. (We’ll assume Welker, in his first meaningful game back from ACL surgery, will be his usual self. A big assumption? Perhaps. But the man looked sharp throughout training camp and the preseason.)
J. Joseph (US Presswire)
Welker, obviously, thrives as an underneath receiver. Leon Hall is a Pro Bowl caliber corner, but he’s not a press corner (neither is Joseph). That’s virtually a moot point, though, because the Patriots almost always line Welker up in the slot or flanker position (two yards off the line of scrimmage). Still, Hall must be physical with Welker early in his route. Hall is usually tremendous in this capacity, but he’s also a tad inconsistent.

The key to Cincy’s defense will be whether Hall can control Welker in the five-to eight-yard range. Fortunately, Hall is an adequate tackler. But for preventing Welker from even catching the ball to begin with, the Bengals may want to have weakside linebacker Keith Rivers patrolling the underneath flats (stopping Welker in motion over the middle is nearly impossible). By committing Rivers to the flats, Cincy would be gambling with Chris Crocker against athletic tight end Rob Gronkowski in coverage – but at least that matchups pits an intelligent eighth-year veteran against a first-game rookie. Plus, if Rivers is in zone coverage in the flats, he can combat Kevin Faulk’s receiving prowess out of the backfield.

If we’re to follow this train of thought, then it all comes back to whether Joseph can handle Moss. If Joseph can’t, then Crocker will be needed in deep coverage, which means the Bengals would likely end up counting on Roy Williams to cover in the box. Just the idea of Williams in any sort of coverage gives defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer nightmares.

What to expect: a modest day for Moss (say in the neighborhood of five catches, 65 yards), a solid day for Welker (eight or nine catches, 100 yards) but the contest ultimately decided by whether the Patriots can find a third weapon in the passing game.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com