The Cincinnati Bengals started the 2010 season coming off a playoff game against the New York Jets.
Many pundits thought that the Bengals were headed back to the playoffs again in 2010. Unfortunately, that didn't work out. The Bengals ended up with another losing season.
Here are the top 10 fails for the Bengals in 2010.
By all accounts, Terrell Owens had a very good season for the Bengals. Owens ended up with 78 catches for 983 yards with nine touchdowns. He was a bargain for the $2 million (plus incentives) he was paid.
Signing Owens was still a bad pickup for the Bengals. Here is why:
1. Carson Palmer seemed to force the ball to him. Owens quickly became Palmer's favorite target. Palmer forced it to Owens so much that 11 of his interceptions were intended for Owens. Relying on Owens also didn't work out when they needed clutch catches from him in the fourth quarter of games.
2. Owens' presence on the team changed the philosophy from a running team to a passing team. Palmer doesn't have the skills to win like that.
3. Owens gave the Bengals two receivers (along with Chad Ochocinco) who don't block.
4. Owens kept Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell on the sidelines. When Owens' season ended after the Bengals placed him on injured reserve with a torn meniscus in his left knee, the Bengals won two out of three. Caldwell and Simpson both showed that they deserved much more playing time.
Cedric Benson said it best with this quote: "Chad and T.O. weren't in today, so we were able to just play football," he said. "There was no gotta get him the ball."
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In 2009, the Bengals won 10 games by running the ball, eating up the clock and playing solid defense. Carson Palmer threw the ball 466 times.
In 2010, the Bengals tried to win games by allowing Carson Palmer to throw the ball a franchise record 586 times. The new formula didn't work.
Power running is not just running the ball more. Instead, it is using more two tight end formations, an unbalanced line and a fullback. Benson did get the ball a career high 321 times but only got 3.5 yards per carry.
When Terrell Owens' season ended, the Bengals were forced to get Jerome Simpson on the field. Simpson barely has seen the field in his three years in Cincinnati. Here is how Simpson played:
Cleveland Browns: two catches, 15 yards
San Diego Chargers: six catches, 124 yards, two touchdowns
Baltimore Ravens: 12 catches, 123 yards, one touchdown
The Bengals held Simpson back for too long. He has great hands and speed. He did fumble the ball twice against the Ravens, but those can be attributed to his lack of game experience.
Rookie defensive end Carlos Dunlap didn't make his first NFL tackle until October 24th. On November 24th, Dunlap sacked Peyton Manning for his first NFL sack. The Bengals simply wasted Dunlap's pass-rushing skills on the sideline for too long.
When they did decide to unleash Dunlap, he broke the franchise rookie record with 10 sacks. Those talents might have been useful early in the season when the Bengals couldn't get near the opposing team's quarterback.
The Bengals played best when they were running the ball straight ahead. Yet, they started the season with no fullback. Later in the season they added Chris Pressley and used Cedric Peerman at fullback.
Not having a fullback going into the season showed that the Bengals were going to be a passing team.
No list of Bengal fails in 2010 is complete without mentioning Antonio Bryant.
On March 10th, Antonio Bryant and the Bengals agreed to a four-year deal worth $28 million with incentives for another $1 million. Unfortunately, the Bengals medical staff was unaware that Bryant had a bad knee and would not be able to play.
After everyone knew of the injury, the Bengals allowed Bryant to practice during the first day of camp, which prevented them from putting Bryant on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list. Without the roster exemption that the PUP list would have allowed, they had to keep him on the roster or dump him.
The Bengals cut him, thus paying Bryant for nothing. When it was all said and done, Antonio Bryant did not play one down for the Bengals and raked in $7 million. This will go down as one of the most embarrassing deals in Bengal history.
In the sixth round of the 2010 NFL draft, the Bengals drafted Dez Briscoe .
Briscoe has size (6'3"), good hands and impressed a lot of people when he was with Kansas. Ignoring all of that, the Bengals cut Briscoe in favor of Quan Cosby. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed Briscoe to their practice squad. While Cosby does have some skills in punt returning, he doesn't have nearly the upside that Briscoe has.
On November 30th, the Bucs promoted Briscoe from their practice squad. Briscoe saw action in two games. On December 26th, he grabbed two balls for 28 yards. In the Bucs' last game, he caught four balls for 65 yards and a touchdown, including a fourth-quarter 54-yard bomb from Josh Freeman.
Briscoe hasn't done much yet, but he looks like he will be a solid receiver for the Bucs next season.
Bernard Scott was another underused weapon in the Bengals arsenal. He finished the 2010 season with 61 carries for 299 yards. Scott is not an every-down back, but he could have been used more catching screen passes. He should have been given the ball 10 times per game at the very least. It isn't like Cedric Benson was getting over four yards per carry.
Because of the reluctance to get Scott more touches, he is another unanswered question going into 2011.
Carson Palmer fumbles
The Bengal teams under Marvin Lewis always seem to be unprepared for game situations, make few adjustments and commit stupid mental mistakes that cost them games. Lewis typically loses one or two games a year that he shouldn't.
This is epitomized by the final play of the season for the Bengals offense. The Bengals were driving to victory with time running out. From the Ravens 11, Palmer connected with Andre Caldwell at the 2-yard line. That made it second down, but the Bengals coaching staff and Carson Palmer thought it was first down. Palmer then stopped the clock by spiking the ball with 22 seconds. On third down, he threw a fade to Caldwell which was incomplete. On fourth down, Palmer scrambled and threw the ball away, thinking it was third down. If he had realized that it was fourth down, he might have run the ball in for the game-winning score.
As the Ravens were taking the field, Palmer was just figuring out that they had just turned the ball over on downs.
This is pathetic.
Bob Bratkowski shows no imagination when calling plays and should not be running the Bengals offense in 2011.
Ezri Silver pretty much nailed this point home here.