Game 2 – Titans at Bengals Pre-Game Thoughts
Game 2 – 2008 Bengals Season
Titans at Bengals, September 14, 2008 – 1pm EST
How will the Bengals Offense Look?
After the flat, banal performance in Baltimore, Carson Palmer must refocus this week and make better use of his toolset. Carson hit his outlet targets, Reggie Kelly, Ben Utecht, Chris Perry, and Kenny Watson for 6 of his 10 completed passes. The WR group was wholly disconnected by the blitzing Ravens, solid coverage and breakdowns on the O-line. Against another physical D-line, Carson must have quicker reads and step up through the pocket or roll-out to gain time and vision to make plays downfield.
Perry was simply ineffective in week 1, mostly due to revolting blocking. Not to pick the scab, but to gain less than 2 yards on 10 of his carries (4 of them for a loss) is utter failure. Top this with the failed 4th down conversion and a critical fumble. The run game never got started. No linemen were bought dinner, according to StripeHype investigators.
Four measures: Sacks/Knockdowns/Pressures/Tackles-for-loss.
Sacks – 2 for 10 yards.
Knockdowns – 5
Pressures – By our count, 10. 10 of the 25 pass attempts. Carson also had to pull it down 3 times to run.
TFL – 6, including the 2 sacks.
This result from a so called “great” O-line? Unacceptable. The interviews with linemen produced the ever-ready “It’s some little things” and “We will play better” type responses. StripeHype response: SHOW US, which will be another challenge given that Mr. Vanden Bosch and Mr. Haynesworth will be eager to spoil Sunday’s homecoming for the Bengals offense.
Here a few stats that need to be pointed out as “how to lose a game.”
1. The Bengals had only 8 first downs
2. The Bengals total time of possession in the second half was 6:17. Ravens had the ball for almost 13 minutes more than the Bengals for the game.
3. The Bengals converted 2 of 15 3rd downs.
Ocho-Sling-o had a catch. T.J. Houshmandzadeh had 3. No other WRs pulled in a reception. Kelly and Utecht had a total of 3. Not much to discuss. This group must do better. There were too many incompletions and drops, pointing to lack of rhythm and timing. The Titans DB’s can be exploited if Mr. Palmer gets some time to develop the play.
How will the Bengals Defense Look?
Overall, the D-line only got run on late in the game. Except for two blown plays by the whole unit (80 of the 229 yards rushing), the D-line did play the run well. Remove those plays and the Ravens average only 3.3 YPC. However, it was deficient in pressuring Joe Flacco in his first NFL start, barely putting a mitt on him and giving him time to make smart decisions with the ball. Notable performance by Frostee Rucker, who had a very nice game with 6 tackles, 2 for a loss and a forced fumble.
The Titans have a potent running game with Chris Johnson and LenDale White splitting carries and offering different styles; speed-back and power-back. The D-line must get off blocks to prevent Johnson from cutting back and getting into space and clog lanes to jam LenDale at the line.
Overall, this was a decent effort against the Ravens considering what we were used to seeing last year. Getting out of position on the double reverse and QB bootleg were embarrassing, but on the whole it was as decent a game from the LBs as I can remember. Tackling was improved and Rivers has come as advertised.
The Titans leading receiver was TE Bo Scaife last week, so look for Rivers and the LB crew to work him into the middle of the field where he can be limited in his ability to make yards after the catch.
The Bengals DBs gave up only 129 yards in the air. Not bad. Except for David Jones looking confused on various plays, the DBs did well to cover their receivers. However, they blew their position assignments on the double reverse and the QB bootleg. The squad has got to be more astute in maintaining their assignments in run support. Two, big, game-changing plays that MAY have been preventable.
The Titans won’t have Vince Young to use his legs to make plays. Kerry Collins get the start and what he lacks in mobility, he makes up for in arm strength, accuracy and experience. The Bengals DB’s must not bite on double-pumps or play-action. Titans WRs only caught 3 of the 12 completed passes in Week 1. Not a lot of speed or skill at WR for the Titans.
How will the Special Teams Look?
Seven punts by Kyle Larson probably meant he spent some time in the whirlpool. Whew, that is work! Coverages were ok, and the returns were solid, notable was Holt’s 44 yrd return to start the second half.
The Titans KR Brian Witherspoon had returns of 49 and 51 yards against the Jags last week, so the Bengals will need to be paying attention when kicking off.
Stadium/Fans – Bengals are 5-3 in Homecoming games to Paul Brown Stadium. Marvin is 4-1 in these games. I expect a raucous crowd providing a very inhospitable environ for the Titans.
Weather – A 100% chance of rain. Wind 5-10mph. Not exactly the ideal conditions for Carson Palmer to get his groove on but cuts both ways versus Collins.
Historically – Titans lead the series 38-32-1.
Weird Stat: Week 1 was the first time in quite a while (fell asleep researching…zzz) when the Bengals had only one QB active for the game: Carson Palmer
Prognosis: Bengals 20 – Titans 16