Bengals Desperate For Leadership

Zane DanielsCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2008

It was a windy day in Cincinnati as the remnants of Hurricane Ike made its way through the Queen City leaving thousands of people without power, the only problem was that people were still able to catch the first half of a 24-7 loss against the Titans.

For the second consecutive week of the 2008 season the Bengals offense that was once one of the best in the league looked abysmal. Caron Palmer threw for only 147 yards on 27 attempts and two interceptions, by far one of Palmer's worst performances as a professional quarterback.

Not much was expected of the passing game as the winds in Paul Brown Stadium reached upwards of 60 miles per hour, but the Titans seemed to mover the ball with relative ease. Chris Perry, however, scored his first touchdown of the season as he rushed for 64 yards on 21 attempts, averaging 3.0 yards a carry.

After the second week of the season it is obvious that changes must be made for the Bengals to even consider making the Playoffs, and they need to be made FAST. Since the first preseason game back in August, the Bengals offensive line has not played to their potential.

The only bright sport at this point of the season is Guard Andrew Whitworth, who signed a four year 30 million dollar extension this off-season that keeps him in stripes until 2013. Whitworth played great against Pro Bowl Defensive Tackle Albert Haynesworth, frustrating Haynesworth to the point of ripping off Whitworth's helmet in the first half of Sunday's game.

The offensive play calling by coordinator Bob Bratkowski has never looked so predictable as it has in the first two weeks of 2008. After having one of the leagues worst rushing attacks in 2007, primarily credited to injuries, Bratkowski has pledged to establish the rushing attack early in 2008.

It seems as if Bratkowski is staying true to word but at the expense of the once heralded Bengals passing attack that has failed to produce early this season.

I don't understand why a team with such great potential on the offensive side of the ball would sacrifice its potent passing attack to establish a running game that will never be the teams strength as long as the team has Pro Bowl wide receivers Chad "Ocho Cinco" and T.J. Houshmandzadeh under contract.

It has been stated that the running game opens up the running game, but is it not also true that the passing game can open up the running game? Ever since Carson Palmer took over as the starting quarterback for Jon Kitna in 2005 this team's strength has always been the passing attack, why change that now?

If the Bengals stay true to what made them one of the NFL's most dangerous offensive teams up until a year ago, I can assure you that the run will open up.

Why does this team need to "establish" a running game? To open up the passing game? I think not! The passing game has been open for a long time! With Rudi Johnson now in Detroit and a perfectly capable, healthy Chris Perry the running game will open up as long as they stay true to who they are.

Another bright spot for this team up to this point is the progress that has being made on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer seems to be holding the defense accountable. Though it isn't perfect, it is obvious the improvements that have been made up to this point.

The secondary has played well this season, led by third-year cornerback Jonathan Joseph and second-year corner Leon Hall, considering how poorly the offense has performed. The defense is on the field much more than is acceptable, but the unit seems to be up to the task.

Rookie Linebacker Keith Rivers from the University of Southern California is showing why this team drafted him with the number 9 pick back in April as he leads this team with 18 tackles. Remember, he is still very young but he is adjusting to the professional game nicely. Expect Rivers to be the staple of this defense for a very long time.
Overall, I love what Mike Zimmer has done with this defense. As I mentioned earlier he is really holding his players accountable and with a few additions, he could be looking at a top 15 defense next year. One position that I would like to see this team address through the draft is Middle Linebacker.

With USC LB Ray Maualuga and Ohio State's James Laurinaitis entering the draft after this season, if the Bengals keep playing like they are they will certainly have the opportunity to draft one of the two. I like Dahani Jones, but he simply isn't a middle linebacker in the NFL.

Disappointing, that is the only word I can use to sum up the Bengals first two games of the young 2008 season. Many people have asked if Marvin Lewis is in the "hot seat" this year, while no one ever knows what actions owner Mike Brown will take, I think it is obvious from a performance standpoint that Marvin Lewis is certainly in the "hot seat."