Cincinnati Bengals: 10 Observations With The Return Of The Offense Vs. Browns
The Cincinnati Bengals gave a few pointed moments to show that the pacemaker is starting to kick in and a consistent heart beat is coming soon.
Running the ball has not been easy for the Bengals in the first 4 weeks of the 2010 season, but with the air attack sputtering to life against the Browns, here are 10 observations of the state of the Bengals offense looking forward to week 5.
Quarterback's Arm Is Good, But....
Carson Palmer finally broke out of his shell by sporting a 121.4 passer's rating to go along with a 25 completions on 36 attempts, Palmer secured his day by throwing 2 touchdown passes.
The first of those two was a 78-yard strike to Terrell Owens in the second quarter.
Palmer finally proved that physically, he is a-ok, but...
...Palmer's Mind Is Questionable
...the flashes of Carson's inconsistency showed when he tried to force an early touchdown to TO that nearly redeemed Eric Wright of the Browns.
In addition, Carson was credited with 2 costly fumbles for which he did not adjust to backfield penatration.
It is woefully apparent that Palmer's issue is mental agility (in other words, adapting under pressure) and this goes with the limited passing game coupled with injury time over the prior two seasons.
TO Makes Us Wonder, TJ Who-Shmenzadeh?
Besides forgetting about Antonio Bryant (boy, how he was forgotten so quickly—though not as likely as forgotten by Mike Brown. Add this new trend to go along with the the prior trend of overpaid, underperforming, high priced draft picks...), Terrell Owens showed that slowing down a step does not mean running straight away down the sideline is beyond TO.
Batman hauled in 10 passes for a whopping 222 yards including the longest strike of the day—78 yards—for a beautiful touchdown.
Owens showed what separates him from the competition in more ways than one (try 10 ways).
Man Overboard! Shipley's Ship Deck Gets Cleared!
In a scary moment that was best summed up by Terrell Owens, Jordan Shipley nearly had his season knocked out of him by T.J. Ward of the Browns with a cheap shot over the middle.
Said Owens (via Bengals.com):
"It was a ridiculous play," said Owens, who jawed with the Browns after the hit. "To take a cheap shot like that is uncalled for. The guy was defenseless.
"His eyes were rolling back in his head. It was tough to see a teammate go through that."
Palmer is predicting that Shipley will be out next week and as long as Jordan's absence is for that one game, Bengals' Nation should breath a sigh of relief.
Gresham Is For Real
Jermaine Gresham continued to impress, though he also took a nice hit to the side of the head early on. Not much affect was had though, as Gresham continued to show why drafting him was the right move for a Bengals' offense in need of a short game.
5 receptions, 35 yards, and key pick ups gave the Bengals breathing room when needed.
Ball to hands to hands to ball. Carson Palmer and Cedric Benson could not connect and Palmer had trouble holding onto the ball at two critical junctures both early and late in the game.
It was a troubling sign that some of the mental rust which emerges under pressure with Carson has a long way to go before it is shaken off.
Dead Line and Dead Zone?
The other mental errors came in the form of trying to get into the red zone and having a Mike Nungent 44-yard field goal attempt blocked and Palmer attempting to force a TD to TO which almost resulted in a 99-yard pick-6.
The offensive lines' play exposed a still weak unit, which included an uncharacteristic penalty on Andrew Whitworth.
Penetration to Palmer and a lack of creating running lanes plagued the Bengals' offense.
Converting The Down Trodden
Third down efficiency still was not there for the Bengals as the offense was slightly better than season average but still only converted 5 of 11 third down attempts (45%). It is another worrisome trait that was marginally better against the Browns, but will need to improve in order to aid the defensive effort.
Chad No-Show Cinco?
Forcing the topic with TO means ignoring Ocho? That might be the case as opposing defenses continue to double-team Chad, giving TO the opportunity to make a name for himself as a Bengal.
One Dimension Per Game
Prior the team was run-first, against the Browns the Bengals were pass first. Something has to give as the Bengals are still fighting for a balanced—instead of bi-polar—identity on offense. The line is weakening and the passing game opened up, while the running game faltered. Without a complimentary offense, the Bengals will not be able to compete against the more polished teams later in the season.