Despite their best efforts to try and give the game away, the Bengals were able to squeak out a 20-7 decision today over the young and disheveled Carolina Panthers. At times it seemed that the Bengals wanted to give Panthers rookie QB Jimmy Clausen every possible opportunity to win his first NFL start.
Thankfully, the Panthers couldn’t take them up on the offer.
Clausen finished 16 of 33 for 188 yards, one interception and three fumbles (two of which were lost). Most of his yardage came towards the end of the game when the Bengals went to more soft zones. Carolina’s three-headed rushing attack was stifled for the most part; Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, and Mike Goodson combined for a meager 87 total rushing yards.
So once again Mike Zimmer’s defense carried the day, and carried what’s becoming an absolutely putrid offense to get Cincinnati its second win in a row. The defense collected four turnovers, which makes 8 in their last two games. They only got one sack, but pressured Clausen all day, and, with the exception of a few non-fatal mistakes, were extremely disciplined in shutting down the run.
The only negative Head Coach Marvin Lewis could point to on the defense was penalties. They gave up yards in chunks thanks to unnecessary roughness and roughing the passer fouls that helped Clausen and his claw-less offense threaten late.
But the real story here, and the reason why a loss was so very possible today, was another pathetic and vomit-inducing performance by the so-called “offense.” I’m no Bill Walsh, but I was under the impressing that the purpose of the offense is to generate points. This definition apparently does not apply in Cincinnati. Bob Bratkowski and his charges continue to look befuddled, lazy, slow to react and predictable. If the Bengals are to repeat as a playoff team in 2010 (and hopefully advance in said playoffs), then they need to fix their offense and fast.
The blocking was atrocious, the T.Ocho show is still a pilot, and Carson Palmer had another awful outing. He threw two bad interceptions, and could have easily had five. Meanwhilem just for the sake of comparison, former back-up Ryan Fitzpatrick was putting up 30 points and two touchdown passes for Buffalo.
The coup-de-grace was at the end of the first half, watching Palmer and his Keystone Kops botch a chance for a chip-shot field goal thanks to terrible clock management. The fiasco was reminiscent of Jon Kitna’s similar stupidity a few years ago versus Cleveland, and just as frustrating to watch. Luckily, the wasted opportunity for what should have been an easy three points didn’t doom them, though at the time I fully expected it would.
The only bright spots for me were the newest Bengals—Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham. Both of these guys are excellent receivers and they need a bigger role in this offense. Oh, and Cedric Benson can stop carping for a week. He got 27 carries today, caught two passes, and scored two touchdowns. Good thing I didn’t bench him from my fantasy team yet. Of course, his three yard per carry average wasn’t all that inspiring for my team, or the real one.
The kicking game was especially solid, with Kevin Huber pinning the Panthers deep on a few occasions, and Mike Nugent nailing yet another 50+ yard field goal. Nugent has yet to miss as a Bengal (8-for-8), and already has four from that range this season. Plus he had some nice kick-offs that resulted in touchbacks.
We’re all glaring angrily at you, Shayne Graham.
The defense can’t carry the team every week, and we cannot count on everybody to give up 4 turnovers a game. And if they do, we should come home with more than 15 or 20 points. Getting four extra possessions should mean 30+ points to any capable offense. They need to get it straight and fast.
Next week the Bengals travel to Cleveland to take on a desperate and winless Browns team that was very game in Baltimore. They fell to the Ravens 24-17, but Seneca Wallace looked like a capable NFL quarterback, and they have a new bruising running game led by one Payton Hillis. The Mangini Browns are better than these Panthers, and they will beat Cincinnati if the Bengals come out next week like they did today.
Unfiltered, emotionally-based and possibly way-off observations:
- Carson does not play with any sense of urgency out there. His drops are slow and his passes seem to lack zip. Starting to wonder about that shoulder again.
- His accuracy was also in question all day, and he’s lucky the Panther defense (like Baltimore’s) can’t catch.
- Can our offense be any more predictable? Geez, sometimes I think the defense knows what’s coming on every snap.
- Note to Bratkowski: If I know what we’re going to run from my living room from watching past games, then so do the opposing defensive coordinators.
- They should throw Chad his Blackberry 100 times a day in practice. He’s dropped far too many balls this year so perhaps he needs some kind of extra motivation.
- Thank God Brian Leonard is back. Once again, he provided some big plays to pick up big first downs when we needed them. We are so much better with his smarts and intangibles on the field. The guy just wills things through grit and determination. You gotta love that.
- Can Bernard Scott get some more carries? It seems he can squirt through holes Ced can’t, catches the ball better, and is shiftier. I’m not saying make Scott the starter, but get the man some more touches. He’s a game-changer.
- Shipley will be Cincinnati’s leading receiver this year. Batman and Robin are getting shown up by a rookie.
- The mis-direction plays were the only creative or inventive thing I saw from the offense. Bratkowski ran them back to back, and got a first down and a touchdown. Perhaps some more of that would be good, Bob.
- The end of the first half was the worst game management I’ve seen in a while. And that’s saying something. Marvin, Brat, and Carson should all be ashamed.
- Can we please replace Nate Livings? The guy is a complete liability out there and was abused on several occasions today. I thought Evan Mathis was better than him last year.
What changed? Perhaps they should accelerate the training of Andre Smith at guard.
Am I off my rocker on any or all of these? If so, leave a comment and let me know…
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