Sunday, September 11, 2011

No Flash, Just A Win

When A.J. Green crossed the goal line with his first NFL touchdown reception, it was nice to see him just toss the ball aside. Hopefully this is the way the "New" Bengals go about their business. Make plays, score touchdowns, go back to the bench, repeat. Andy Dalton looked calm and composed. Early in the game he pump-faked to the right, then found a tight end down the middle. He knew where his receivers were supposed to be and by golly, the receivers were there. Not once did I see receivers looking at the quarterback with confused looks and hands in the air. It appeared the Bengals players were on the same page. For a while, I thought maybe the Browns and Bengals had switched helmets. It was the Browns with 10 penalties in the first half, it was the Browns falling asleep in the huddle, and it was the Bengals taking advantage. It is still a work in progress, and fingers must be crossed when it comes to Dalton's injured wrist. But kudos to the players and the coaches. They appear to be putting football and the playbook first. There appears to be focus. There appears to be respect for the game. I'm not taking any bets on when Mike Brown will sign some knuckleheads off the scrap heap to mess this up, the poor man can't help himself if he thinks he's getting a bargain. But for one Sunday, it was nice to see another team self destruct, and the team in stripes playing with self-respect.

Friday, September 2, 2011

C'mon Carson, Do It!

Carson Palmer has one last card to play to force Mike Brown's hand. I hope he plays it. For the plan to work to perfection, Palmer needs to hope Andy Dalton looks good in his first couple of starts. If he does, then it's Carson's time to put Brown in a corner. Just imagine if the offense under Dalton is showing progress in Jay Gruden's new system. Dalton was practically hand-picked by Gruden to run his system. Then two games into the growth spurt, here comes Palmer. If Dalton looks good early, Palmer should show up and declare he is back, reporting for duty, ready to hold a clipboard on the sideline while smacking Brown's wallet for close to 700k per game. Would the Bengals really sit Dalton down and insert Palmer, thus stunting the growth of this new offense and new era? Is Palmer really cut out for this offense? We know before wrecking his knee and popping his elbow, Palmer had a very strong and accurate arm. He still flashes that, but it hasn't been there consistently. So the Bengals choices are distasteful: Play Palmer and stunt the growth of a promising Dalton, or have the most overpaid backup quarterback in NFL history. Would Mike Brown really pay Palmer over 600 grand a game to occupy one of the best seats in the house, especially with so many empty seats at PBS that used to be occupied by paying customers? Would Brown do that to prove a point? If he does, then I never want to hear him ask the county for another penny to fix a scoreboard or buy a new leather chair for his office. Mike should do anything and everything to trade Palmer as soon as possible and move on from this idiotic chapter of an idiotic two-decades long novel. Naysayers will point out, "well if Palmer forces Brown's hand, then players will be lined up out the door to get away from the Bengals." I'm not buying that argument during a week that saw the Bengals sign two of their most valuable veterans to extensions. If this team is good enough for Andrew Whitworth and Leon Hall, then it's good enough for a lot of veterans. If someone like Palmer (who should be a leader) wants out, then get him out of here as quickly as possible. You don't win with those guys. If Carson comes back it will be a mess. It's a mess that should have never happened in the first place. Palmer should be on another team, and the Bengals should already be training the draft pick (or picks) they received in return. But since Brown isn't going to fix this mess on his own, maybe Palmer will give him the final shove he needs.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dalton the Worst?

If nothing else, rankings and lists get people talking. John Clayton at ESPN ranks Andy Dalton as the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. From reading the article it appears Clayton is also holding the quarterbacks responsible for those around them. He says of Oakland's Jason Campbell, "too bad he doesn't have an offensive line that can block for him." So in these rankings the quarterback is responsible for those "ole'" blocks that can make said qb look like a fool. Dalton's last place ranking should come as no surprise, unless you happened to be paying attention to the Panthers starting quarterback this preseason. Cam Newton is ranked one spot ahead of Dalton. Newton has shown nothing in the "art of an NFL quarterback" department. Dalton has. But Clayton says Newton's "mechanics functioning in an NFL offense have exceeded expectations." Really? Those expectations must have been very, very low for the top overall pick in the NFL draft. Newton has completed a mere 40% of his passes this preseason. Apparently draft position has something to do with the rankings too, since former top pick Alex Smith is rated 28th on the list. Smith has struggled mightily in the league for six seasons. I would take Dalton's chances of panning out over a guy who has had ample time to get it right, but hasn't, in 54 career games. But there is no question Newton's talent is immense, and upside is a huge factor in these rankings. So is experience. Sam Bradford was 30th as a rookie in last year's preseason rankings by Clayton, but shot up to 14th this preseason. Like I said, rankings get us talking. But when it comes to rookies, those rankings can also be severely flawed.