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west tx bengal fan

Monday Morning QB: Browns 35, Bengals 30

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The score sounds close.  The game wasn't.  Joe Burrow continued to grow, while the team stumbled.  Excuses?  It was Thursday night with only a few prep days.  The DT spot was a mess.  

The Good

1.  Joe Burrow - I discussed after the last game that Burrow got a slow start and some may have been wondering whether the Red Rifle would have done better.  Lots of Andy Angst remaining... as many became nearly nauseas in responses to denounce any thoughts of how Dalton may have fared.  Well, no need to think about that after the loss to Cleveland as Burrow played better there in his second NFL game that Dalton played in PBS vs the Browns in his last Bengals game the prior December.  You can really see Burrow learning in real time, and it is impressive.  He is on a curve and could do some things better.  But heck, he's in his 2nd NFL game and broke a few NFL records including the most passes attempted in an NFL game without an interception and the rookie record for completions in a game.  I think one of the most impressive things he does is to use all of his receivers on the field... finding the open guy as he works through progressions (sometimes on the run).  He completed passes to 9 different receivers including some of the best use of the TE and RB that we've seen since Esiason was QB'ing here.  Additionally, what has he done for ball control and conversions?  Even tho it seemed like the Bengals got their butts handled, they had the clear time of possession lead in the game, converted 5 of 5 on 4th down, and converted 44% of 3rd down opportunities (which was less than the 63% that the Browns managed but was far better than what we averaged in 2019 and was offset by the 4th down success on half of the 3rd down failures).

2.  Drew Sample - We already expect him to develop into an elite in-line blocker, but he showed very good hands and route running.  And that's none too soon with the terrible development of Uzomah tearing his Achilles.  Sample is not going to dazzle with speed, but he can give us that TE presence like the Steelers or Ravens get by simply catching 4-6 balls a game and providing a blocking presence.

3.  Jonah Williams - While not dominating in any sense, Williams held his own against very good opposition and was one of the few who didn't completely embarrass the team on the OL.  He's in his 2nd game too, so we have a good idea that there is something on which to build the OL (as the talent drops off considerably as you move from LT rightwards).  I'm looking for something positive on the OL because it's a pretty dark spot right now.

4.  Tyler Boyd - Burrow made up for missing Boyd the prior Sunday by finding him, a lot, on Thursday.  Boyd came up with several 4th down conversions and a very impressive toe tap TD late in the game.

5.  Special Teams - Not to open the wound on the loss to the Chargers... but Bullock (or Bullard as some now call him) put together a nice game with 3-3 on FGs and XPs as well as 6 Touchbacks on his KOs.  The onside kick late in the game didn't hop much as you'd like, and some will cite that, I suppose, as another reason why he needs to go.  But, hey, when you have a RT who can't block and a RG who is a damm embarrassment, you're going to cut your kicker and put in the guy the Browns cut to soothe your anger?  So in case any of you have lost your sense of humor, read this next line as satire:  Bullock/Bullard has done us a favor two weeks in a row by moving us up 5-6 slots in the 2021 draft to get us a better RT.  Back to the non-satire:  coverage teams did fine; Huber was solid; Brandon Wilson continues to impress on the KO return front.  Simmons continues to be the best coordinator in the building.

The Bad

1.  Run D - We were excited to get Reader, Bynes, and Bell added up the middle and thought our worries were over, right?  Guess we need to think again.  The losses of Tupou and Wren were worse than we may have realized.  Subsequent injuries to Atkins and late addition Daniels have been worse.  As I noted pre-game, Reader was forced to play nearly all the snaps, and that wore him down.  Nobody plays their NT 90-something % of the time.  We had Covington playing 65% of the snaps; Andrew Brown playing NT; the Titans castoff and initial PS player Bledsoe playing significant snaps; and PS callup Akinmoladun getting 16 snaps... nice 4th down goalline stop too for Mr. Freedom.  The Browns 1-2 RBs of Chubb and Hunt are really impressive and came into the game as 1-2 in the NFL in YAC.  However, the Bengals are now giving up about 180 yards rushing per game after the 2nd week (which will probably put them dead last...again ... in NFL rush D), and this has to have some starting to wonder whether Anarumo is going to last through the 2020 season.

2.  Pass Rush - The OL is pretty bad, but the pass rush hasn't done anything this season.  The two "sacks" against the Chargers came with Tyrod Taylor scrambling and Bengals defenders catching him at or near the original Line of Scrimmage.  Against Mayfield, the Bengals got no sacks, QB Hits, or pressure.  Part of this lies in the fact that the Browns were gashing us on the run and had great play action to offset the rush.  Part is that Mr. Baker is fast and got outside of containment on about half of his throws... for this reason I might have given the DBs a "Good" spot for even hanging in there vs. Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry, and Austin Hooper (if not for getting really burned a couple of times).  The DL was supposed to be the strength of this team but so far looks like a joke.

3.  OL - There we go.  No rush presence.  Joe Mixon has to do almost everything on his own (again) to the point that it looks worse than it did in early 2019.  Fred Johnson's trial at RG was awful, and Bobby Hart continues to be scary (in a bad way) at RT.  I am wondering now if it might be worth trying to switch these two guys (Johnson to RT and Hart to RG) to take advantage of Johnson's length on the outside (as Hart is getting beaten too much on the edge which is something that is essentially unheard of these days on average to good teams' OLs).  Just as Anarumo might not make it to January 2021, you have to start wondering whether coach Turner has a future in Cincinnati past 2020.  Of course, there's that thing about chicken salad and chicken $hit.  I think the left side of the OL is serviceable at present (and will get better with Williams in his first games and Jordan continuing to improve as a 2nd year guy with about 10 prior starts).  However, the right side is scary, and the cupboard is bare on the bench... heck, we couldn't even play a prior 1st Round pick (Billy Price) at RG on Thursday due to some phantom ankle issue that suddenly was cited retroactively.  Bottom line is that I'm seeing Carson Palmer circa 2008 here with Burrow taking a lot of hits, and I'm wondering whether Mike Brown & Co. are going to make that same mistake twice in ruining a franchise QB with a two-bit OL?

4.  LB/S Tackling - 2019 Deja vu all over again

5.  Auden Tate - I get it... 7 WRs and you can't play them all.  Tate's agent now advising the Bengals to trade his player, so we need to figure out what to do.

6.  AJ Green - Still has some rust on his engine apparently.  He looks a step slow and slightly off on his VJ and separation.  No doubt there is a timing problem with his new QB given the lack of pre-season practice.  I suspect Green will start getting his stat line improved shortly, but I'm simply pointing out that AJ just doesn't look quite the same so far in early 2020.

The Ugly

1.  Zac Taylor - I gave him a solid in 2019 by taking the stance that he had no spring 2019 prep time, didn't get to pick his own team, and was a first time HC.  There are excuses in 2020 too:  there's a pandemic; a rookie QB; a porous OL; and a plethora of unexpected losses at DT.  But every man has his challenges, and Zac needs to figure out quickly how to:  a.  Protect his franchise QB;  b.  Communicate with good players who he isn't using (Tate) before they or their agents go to the press;  c.  Stop the Opposing Run

2.  Bengals and the Losing Attitude - We have new guys that aren't used to this in Burrow, Bynes, Bell, Reader.  There is a talent gap that we don't see (but the rest of the league and world does).  Even after spending some $200 million in contracts in the past 6 months, this team is still in the gutter.  I'm looking at Peyton Manning's rookie year and hoping for a future turnaround like the Colts had with him.  But that also came with a franchise that was willing to build on its QB's terms, and the Bengals have never done anything on anyone's terms other than Mike Brown since 1991 (when he took over).  And ironically, it has been since just before this takeover when the team last won a playoff game.  We have accepted a lot of excuses and have worked every end of hope to find the light at the end of the tunnel.  Is Joe Burrow and the emerging Brown family transition to daughter Katie and her teeny bopper grand daughter going to provide a change?  or not?

Wait & See

1.  Last week this column had AJ as one of it's listings.  That one has moved to bad in the interim but could easily go to good in a single week (with Green's talent and Burrow's growth curve).

2.  TE play - now the watch is on to see whether a guy named Schreck can join the troupe and do things similarly to Uzomah.  I don't expect Cethan Carter to do that because he simply isn't a big receiving type TE.  Schreck has those athletic tendencies but just hasn't shown that on the field ... and hasn't had a lot of chances.  But the loss of Uzomah (and his athleticism downfield) might end up contracting a lot of what Burrow can do in the middle of the field.  TE is such a dangerous position on the field in many ways.  It's really tough to defend a good TE, and it's really tough to keep a TE healthy.  I think if Schreck can put up some numbers that it will demonstrate Burrow's ability to produce with whatever we give him at TE provided that the TE has some basic qualifications (e.g., reasonable speed, hands, route running abilities).  That would be a really good sign that we can pass our TEs less and still get production as Pittsburgh has been able to do in that position during the Big Ben era.

3.  2020 direction/outcome - It's early, but do you see this season still having a potential playoff end?  I do not after seeing Roethlisberger's positive return, the Ravens dominance, and the Browns' success against us after their initial beatdown in Baltimore.  We're clearly 4th of 4 in the AFC North right now, and there isn't a lot we can do except to wait for players to grow on their curve (most of the OL), be replaced after the season (Bobby Hart), or be coached by someone different (Bengals tho tend to wait until the end of the year to replace position coaches).  The big guy (Zac) provides this scary note:  his record so far at 2-16 is three games worse than that of Dave Shula who was 5-13 two games into the 1993 season.  At what point does Taylor start to take the full blame for a team that can't win under his direction?

 

Hope to continue the positive discussion on this material (and/or whatever extras you wish to provide).

Edited by west tx bengal fan

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I’m really hoping the poor defensive effort was a result of a short week/early season geling

if our right side OL doesn’t show vast improvement this week, we better see some Changes 

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I’m hoping same re: short week.

On that excuse, you want to acknowledge that both teams were in a short week and coming off a loss (albeit Cleveland playing at home and with a few real fans).  But the Browns have a better established depth chart in terms of returning players, knowing systems etc.  So they prob have an advantage in a short week when you can’t install anything too fancy.

I look at the short weeks and expect the team with the better roster of healthy players to win.  I think that occurred.  If we put a healthy Geno and Daniels on the field, it may have made a big difference in run and pass D.  I doubt a healthy XSF changes things on O much.  And it was a 5-pt game that hinged on not getting into the Endzone when Bernard’s TD was reversed.  A TD and two there is a 5-pt swing that ended up being the difference in the game.

There is also the Turnover factor - I think we both had one.  But ours was at our own 1, while theirs was inside our 5.  
 

We’ll win some games soon, but I’m kinda lowering my 7-9 season win hope to the 5-7 range.

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Having no Geno or Daniels just exposed the depth on the d-line and LB level.  What's new?  It seems like this team gets brutally destroyed by injuries at specific positions every yeat.  So this year it's at DT.  We even lost Reader for a quarter  in the opener.

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Just now, INbengalfan said:

Having no Geno or Daniels just exposed the depth on the d-line and LB level.  What's new?  It seems like this team gets brutally destroyed by injuries at specific positions every yeat.  So this year it's at DT.  We even lost Reader for a quarter  in the opener.

Sorry I haven't piut more on here.  Spent the weekend jet skiing in Tennessee.

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1 hour ago, INbengalfan said:

Sorry I haven't piut more on here.  Spent the weekend jet skiing in Tennessee.

Hope you had fun!  I just posted this AM as was busy with work, kids etc.

When I was mentally constructing the discussion, I had one idea that I subsequently forgot but now remembered (as I sit here watching Russell Wilson carve up NE).  That thought was somewhat relayed in the note of Burrow learning so quickly.  More specifically, I noted last week that Burrow was going to get killed the way he was weaving E-W as he went N-S.  It didn’t take him more than a few film sessions to start doing that differently.  The way he scrambled against Cle was totally different than the manner he used vs LAC.  Guy is impressive - just hope he doesn’t get killed before we shore up the right side of OL.

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One other side note - just heard that NE RB James White’s dad killed in car accident with his mom in critical condition.  That will put Gio out a few days as he lived with White in HS when both went to Ft Lauderdale St Thomas Aquinas.... I’m sure Gio will take time off as he always spoke of White’s dad with great respect and reverence.

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Another addendum... just noticed that CJ's Anthony Cosenza using the same basic outline for weekly discussion as I used (i.e., Good, Bad, Ugly).  Want to say that, first, I authored & posted both my columns before he did and, second, I had/have no plagiarism from his column or notes.  I'm not saying that he took from mine either... maybe just a coincidence?

Since I wrote weekly post-game columns there for several years before switching here for this season, I thought it was a bit odd.  For the record, I stopped writing at CJ because they made some curious moves at the start of camp that basically initiated a type of censorship and limitation on reader comments.  I'm totally against censorship except for very narrow reasons, and I decided to no longer post on that site.  I wanted to point out the similarities in the articles... check the posting dates if you want.  Anthony posted both times chronologically after I did with columns using similar Headings.

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1 hour ago, west tx bengal fan said:

Another addendum... just noticed that CJ's Anthony Cosenza using the same basic outline for weekly discussion as I used (i.e., Good, Bad, Ugly).  Want to say that, first, I authored & posted both my columns before he did and, second, I had/have no plagiarism from his column or notes.  I'm not saying that he took from mine either... maybe just a coincidence?

Since I wrote weekly post-game columns there for several years before switching here for this season, I thought it was a bit odd.  For the record, I stopped writing at CJ because they made some curious moves at the start of camp that basically initiated a type of censorship and limitation on reader comments.  I'm totally against censorship except for very narrow reasons, and I decided to no longer post on that site.  I wanted to point out the similarities in the articles... check the posting dates if you want.  Anthony posted both times chronologically after I did with columns using similar Headings.

CJ has used that format (Good, Bad Ugly) for years.  Anthony usually writes them too.  It's all good anyway, since none of them are on here.

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Good, bad, and the ugly columns have been around since before most of us were alive.

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20 minutes ago, INbengalfan said:

CJ has used that format (Good, Bad Ugly) for years.  Anthony usually writes them too.  It's all good anyway, since none of them are on here.

Good to hear....  I prob just had that in the back of my mind when I used the format to structure the discussions.  Just didn't want anyone here to think I am lifting anything from CJ.  I still read columns there but that's it for the immediate future.

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2 hours ago, west tx bengal fan said:

Good to hear....  I prob just had that in the back of my mind when I used the format to structure the discussions.  Just didn't want anyone here to think I am lifting anything from CJ.  I still read columns there but that's it for the immediate future.

They stole it from Clint eastwood anyway.  It's a clever set up to use.  I work in a profession where everyone borrows or steals ideas all the time to create lessons that keep students engaged.

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On 9/20/2020 at 11:15 AM, west tx bengal fan said:

2.  TE play - now the watch is on to see whether a guy named Schreck can join the troupe and do things similarly to Uzomah.  I don't expect Cethan Carter to do that because he simply isn't a big receiving type TE.  Schreck has those athletic tendencies but just hasn't shown that on the field ... and hasn't had a lot of chances.  But the loss of Uzomah (and his athleticism downfield) might end up contracting a lot of what Burrow can do in the middle of the field.  TE is such a dangerous position on the field in many ways.  It's really tough to defend a good TE, and it's really tough to keep a TE healthy.  I think if Schreck can put up some numbers that it will demonstrate Burrow's ability to produce with whatever we give him at TE provided that the TE has some basic qualifications (e.g., reasonable speed, hands, route running abilities).  That would be a really good sign that we can pass our TEs less and still get production as Pittsburgh has been able to do in that position during the Big Ben era.

 

You keep saying Schreck, but i expect that Sample will take about 90% of the TE snaps, and we'll see more 4 wide or 2 back sets.  I doubt we get as many 2 TE sets with Uzomah out.

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I was impressed with Burrow too, btw.  He's learning.  His mistakes this week were different than the ones last week.  He's figuring out what he can do at the NFL level.

I suspect if the line were blocking better for him, he would have hit a few deep balls by now and his stats would look a lot better.

The 0-2 record doesn't reflect it, but i think it's a good thing that he's throwing so much playing from behind.  It's a crash course, and he'll come out better bc of it.  Glass half full mentally here.

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