A loss is a loss, and this one definitely sucks since it was a divisional game. Most of us expected the Bengals to at least split with the Browns this season since they are a team on the rise. The Browns will definitely surprise a few teams this season. But at least there are a couple of good things to take away from this game.
1) Palmer. #9 looked like I expected to see him rebound at some point this season. It was great to see it sooner than later. His passes were on target, had great velocity, and his presense looked the closest thing to 2005 we have seen in sometime. Palmer took advantage of what the Browns gave him and stayed strong in the pocket making some key throws even with guys at his feet. Leading up to this week, you would have thought Palmer needed to be sitting in an old folks home with an adult diaper full of his own steamy crap of mixed veggies.
I love how the media went from Palmer is top five QB to he is done in just a one week span. This is just another example of how the media overhypes its subject matter, whether it is politics or sports, and is too lazy to do their job: investigate and report. Where were they between 2006 and 2008 while #9 was getting raped on the field? They could have at least put pressure on Mike Brown to adequately field an OL that could protect their $100 million dollar investment. Unfortunately, they were to busy cherry picking stats that made it look like he was still on top of his game.
I think Boomer made the most observant comment this past week out out of all the talking heads (from his interview with Hob, the grand pooh-bah of cherry picking stats – third on the list of course to Shawn Hannity and Keith Olberman).
“That’s not the Carson Palmer I know. He looks like he’s lacking confidence back there in the pocket. I’m not there every day, so I don’t know why that is. I don’t know if it’s the new receivers, or the protection, or what, but you wonder what is going on... No one doubts this guy’s physical skills, but I can’t tell you how much it means for a quarterback to have confidence. It’s everything.”
This game could be the kick in the ass that Palmer and the offense needed. His OL gave him time for the most part (more on that below), and Palmer took advantage of it. I don’t think this is the peak for the offense like we experienced against the Bears last year. If Palmer can build upon this game we could be in for a good run against a formidable schedule the next month.
2) Zimmer. Great defensive play calling again and he again won the chess match for the most part. Unfortunately, he became the victim of being Bengalized throughout the game by the mistakes. You have to give him credit; he gave up only two good drives to the Browns offense. The rest of points they gave up were off turnovers and bull shit penalties that put the Browns in scoring range.
3) Bratkowski. Yes I said it. You have to give the man credit when credit is due. He constantly attacked the Browns all day long, rather then sit back and hold onto the Brown’s 10 point lead like he has done in the past.
It was like Back to the Future with Brat. He successfully mixed up the play calling throughout the day: when we would show a run formation, we would pass; when Palmer would check at the line, we would pass rather than call the uninspired Benson that would be lucky to gain a yard; and most importantly he didn’t fall into the usual run, run, pass routine once we got in the red-zone. Except for a few critical plays where the Browns took advantage of our weaknesses, his play calling was really a thing of beauty yesterday.
1) Pass coverage against opposing TE’s. This is and will be our achilies heel the entire season. Zimmer needs to find a way or the right personnel to tighten this weakness up or this could kill us when we meet teams like the Buccaneers, Jets, and Steelers.
2) The big plays. The coaching staff I used to work with would always talk about winning the big plays. The idea was that a game typically has three big plays in it, and if you can win those three you typically can win the game. Unfortunately the Browns were able to win by making more than just three throughout the game. The blocked field goal, the third down penalties against our defense (most of them bull shit calls), and the key sacks/ turnovers were just too much to overcome.
The OL Weakspots. The Browns took full advantage of our two weakspots on the OL to make the big plays that helped give them the win. The LG & RT are pressure points that be need to resolved or we are fucked. Livings gave up the sack on a simple twist stunt which handed the ball over to the Browns within their own 15 yard line. Luckily Zimmer and the defense held them to only three points to keep us in the game.
Roland whiffed on two big plays. The first, Roland didn’t step down and gave up the blocked field goal, costing us three points. The second was the critical 3rd & 13 with 5 minutes left in the game with the Bengals driving for the win. The Browns OLB ran right around all 6’-9” of him to get the sack setting up a 4 & 17 punt. Had he made that block, Palmer either moves the chains or gets them in position to allow Nugent to try to make the game tying FG.
The lesson that should be learned from this is that Mathis and Smith deserve their chance to start against Tampa. Moobs was in for a larger amount of snaps this week and from what I saw he did pretty well. Moobs did get worked by a spin move in the second quater, but Palmer picked it up and got out of the pocket to throw a nice completion to TO coming across the middle of the field.
We need to carefully watch how Hob spins this story this week. Last week Hob quoted Alexander as saying that Livings graded out as a 92 against Carolina. I don’t know how realistic that is since I didn’t get to watch that game, but there is no way in hell either of them should grade that well this week.