First team defense, kinda bad. First team offense, kinda good. Penalties, still bad. Bernard Scott, still good. Dan Coats catching a pass, WTF?! You've seen the game. So have I. There's nothing new to add. So instead let's spend this time FJM'ing Hob's post game writing because ripping apart someone else's article is so much easier than writing one myself.
OK, OK, so it’s not Bruce Springsteen appearing on the covers of Time and Newsweek the same week. But the Bengals have seen the future of third down and it is rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham and rookie wide receiver Jordan Shipley.
Try to logically connect those two sentences. Spoiler alert: you will fail. Another quintessential Hob opening.
Gresham continued his quiet progress to become the first rookie to appear as the Opening Day depth chart starter since fullback Jeremi Johnson in 2003. With five catches for 50 yards against Denver at Paul Brown Stadium, Shipley is now the frontrunner to man the slot in three-receiver sets.
Let's hope the similarities with Jeremi end there. And while I believe Shipley holds promise, the time when I really begin to go postal about the whole Antonio Bryant signing (yeah, remember him?) rapidly approaches.
“Wait until you see ‘Glance’ on film,” said quarterback Carson Palmer as he walked past offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski on the way out of the locker room Sunday night. “The way he wrapped it round there … great.”
Why are our players telling our offensive coordinator to watch film?
In true T.J.-fashion, Shipley wriggled in the slot for two of them and his other catch in the drive, a nine-yarder, began to bail the Bengals out of a second-and-17 from the Denver 28 caused by left guard Nate Livings’ hold. Palmer hasn’t been able to work the slot like that since 2007, the last time he and Houshmandzadeh were healthy together.
You know who else could still be wriggling in the slot in true TJ-like fashion? TJ. But 3 free agent signings and a half dozen WR draft picks later...we, like, totally replaced that guy no problem.
And he’s never had a tight end like Gresham. Tall and talented, the massive 6-5, 250-pounder finished his home debut with three catches for 37 yards.
But his third-down catch on the second drive that converted a third-and-10 with a 15-yard pluck from a defender he shielded from his body that looked more like a rebound after a box-out served notice that Palmer now has the middle of the field available for Gresham's ample abilities.
“He should have been driving back to the ball, the guy almost intercepted it,” Bratkowski said.
Way to be a wet blanket, dick.
Gresham was grim talking about his blocking. He feels it’s the No. 1 thing he has to improve. Running back Cedric Benson kind of got a kick out of it because he says Gresham kept talking to him after every running play. Benson was on the bench when he noticed late in the second quarter Gresham get the upper hand on one of those defensive ends and pushed him wide enough that backup running back Bernard Scott scooted inside on the way to a 38-yard run.
Encouraging. We need Gresham to be able to block too. Offensive line probably has the least natural talent of any unit on our team. Bruising TE can help that. Overall, I came away with no complaints about our run or pass blocking yesterday. Even with Kyle Cook out. Of course, prior to watching I had consumed a large quantity of Evan Williams whiskey while watching The Expendables, so my ability to analyze anything other than the Ben-gals was impaired (they get a C-minus).
Shipley’s future seems pre-ordained, a coach’s son who caught enough balls in the nooks and crannies of the Big 12 to become Texas’ all-time leading receiver. Like Palmer said at halftime, it seems like Shipley has been making plays his entire life. On that first Bengals touchdown drive, a 13-play haul, Shipley worked out of the slot to convert a third-and-six.
In his first NFL start the next season, Palmer found Houshmandzadeh three times for 38 yards. Don’t look now, but Palmer found Shipley three times for 39 yards against the Broncos.
Why would we not look?
Anyway, good point, Hob. That's a totally meaningful comparison that has extremely high predictive value for the future of Shipley's career. Who says Hob can't do data driven analysis? No one after that paragraph. That's who.
Shipley has been telling everyone who listens to him how comfortable he is as a Bengal. “The organization has been great,” he said. “The guys on the team have been really good; it’s been fun.” It was a night for rookies. Some big plays. Some mistakes. But there was no mistaking the feeling that the Bengals seemed to have made a good start on their offseason vow to surround Palmer with more talent.
And I'll end on that positive note. Without question, Carson has more talented and reliable weapons around him this year. I don't like that we were down 14-0 to the wookie-led Broncos first team but the score of preseason games matters very little.