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Know Thy Enemy: Cincinnati Bengals

Its come to my attention, through Music City Miracles, that the title of this post should probably be Know Thine Enemy, instead of Thy. I'm not going to change it but I wanted to let you know that I am indeed aware of the discrepancy. Wow. That wasn't really necessary at all, was it? Onward...

Josh from Cincy Jungle figuratively stopped by to fill us in on the Bengals. Thanks to Josh for taking the time to do this and for everyone who submitted questions.

What's been the offensive Achilles heel for you guys this year?

Running the ball. For several seasons, Rudi Johnson played as a bull-dozing power back. While he was light on his feet with incredible balance control, he would also lower his shoulder and bury anyone willing to take the first shot. In the past two seasons, he’s done more to refine his body by losing weight but packing muscle. Ironically, he’s not the power back he once was. Rather than bulldozing that annoying defender that breaks into the backfield, Rudi now stops and dances looking for another lane – thus usually dropped in the backfield.

On the other hand, many of the Bengals failings are squared solely on the offensive line. Injury has hurt the line with four of five starters out throughout the course season and their rush blocking, in terms of metrics, is pretty poor.

These Bengals remind me a bit of the Chiefs circa 2003. Great offense, no defense. That year we knew we weren't going anywhere if we couldn't stop anyone. Why are the 2007 Bengals any different?

We’re not. And specifically, the Bengals offense isn’t that great to offset the disastrous defensive play we’ve seen thus far. They have several superstars, but aren’t maintaining drives, have no running game and when you get past Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, there’s no third option. People really don’t understand how critical Chris Henry was to this offense. Over 20% of his career receptions are touchdowns. He’s faster than linebackers with a distinct athletic advantage against safeties and nickelbacks.

While the defense is viewed as horrific – a reasonable conclusion – the infirmary at linebacker is appalling. We have guys that are suited for special teams starting at linebacker. If you watched the Monday Night game, you saw and heard how many times that two starters were signed weeks before that game in response to injuries.

Given the speed of the Cinci receivers and the inherent lack thereof of the starting Chiefs DB's (Law and Surtain), the DB's are going to be laying off at the line of scrimmage quite a bit to give themselves cushion not to get beat. Knowing this, will Carson be more likely to abuse our D with short routes and slants across the middle-taking what he can get, or will they stubbornly challenge the DB's and safeties deep like they tried to do vs New England?

One thing about Palmer is that if he starts feeling that the team’s success falls on his shoulders, he’ll start making throws that no one else would even imagine making. Some are picked, a lot are incomplete, but some are game-changing. He can throw into a window that no other quarterback seems to even attempt. So, yea, in a way he’s very stubborn. And unfortunately, we’ve lost some games with that mentality on the final drive ending the game with interceptions.

Alternatively, if the Bengals defense contains the opposition and the Bengals offense has some success running the ball, then Palmer will take what the defense gives him. If the corners play off the receivers, he’ll pitch it off and put pressure on the defense to make a play. The Bengals offense uses short slants, curls and out patterns incredibly well. The timing is very impressive. And I’m not saying that as a Bengals fan. Watch the Bengals when there’s no personal investment as a fan. When Palmer is in synch with his receivers, it’s a thing of choreographed beauty.

How do you feel about your chances to win the division?

Not good at all. The Steelers are playing very well right now, we won by seven points after "forcing" a billion turnovers against the Ravens, and we allowed 51 points against the Cleveland Browns. If we win it, it won’t because we forced it to happen. It will be because others gave it to us.

What are your impressions of the Chiefs so far this season?

Honestly, not much. Most of my time goes into cursing the Bengals defense. However, my honest impression is that the Chiefs are in the middle of re-identifying who they are. That’s not meant as an insult either. The Bengals are doing the same thing. Where they were once a dynamic offense, they are now one-dimensional. That’s similar to my impression of the Chiefs.

Thanks again to Josh. My responses to his questions are here.

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