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Thread: Bengals’ offense going nowhere on 3rd down

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    Default Bengals’ offense going nowhere on 3rd down

    Bengals’ offense going nowhere on 3rd down
    By JOE KAY, AP Sports Writer

    CINCINNATI (AP)—When Carson Palmer, Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens get together for the NFL’s weekly reality show, they’re a collective dud on the most important down.

    The Cincinnati Bengals’ season is all but finished because their talented passing game and their once-dependable running game go sideways—back to the bench—when it’s time to either pick up a few more yards or punt.

    The Bengals are 2-5 heading into their Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in large measure because they can’t string first downs together. Palmer is the AFC’s lowest-rated passer on third down, completing fewer than half his throws.

    Overall, the Bengals convert only 37.3 percent of their third down chances, which ranks 20th in the league.

    The most frustrating part: No common thread among all the third-down failures.

    “Whatever the case may be, they’re just tiny things but when you can’t get over that hump and can’t get that next third down, everything is magnified,” offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said Wednesday. “And it keeps you from running your offense.”

    The last loss is the best example of this often-lost offense.

    The Bengals got the opening kickoff and went 86 yards in 15 plays against the Dolphins, converting all four of their third-down plays in one of the most impressive drives of the season. Palmer threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Owens on a third-down play.

    After that, the Bengals converted only 2 of 12 third downs the rest of the game. They went three-and-out on five straight possessions, feeling the boos that accompanied each punt on their way to a 22-14 loss.

    “Particularly when you haven’t converted two or three in a row, then there’s a little more pressure there on that,” Bratkowski said. “‘C’mon, we’ve got to get one,’ and that’s when people start to press and get frustrated and force the issue, which is not a good thing.”

    A quite unexpected thing, too.

    The Bengals kept the offense moving last season by running the ball. The passing game finished 26th in the league, prompting the decision to sign Owens and draft tight end Jermaine Gresham and slot receiver Jordan Shipley. The passing game is much better, ranking sixth in the league. But the running game is down, third downs have become a nightmare, and the defending AFC North champs are virtually out of the race at the season’s midpoint.

    It’s got them puzzled and frustrated.

    “I’ve come in here the last two weeks and answered that question, and I really don’t have an answer for it,” Owens said Wednesday. “I have no idea. I have no answers. For me to be here, I just want to do what I’m supposed to do and try to contribute as best I can.

    “So I’m not here to create any distractions or what have you. I’m just here to try to do the job which they brought me here to do. I can’t account for anything else.”

    Owens arrived with a history of second-guessing his quarterbacks and coaches. He’s been careful with his words so far and kept his frustrations to himself.

    Ochocinco seems to be taking it much harder, in part because his production is down. Five times, Ochocinco has been held to four or fewer catches. He has only two touchdowns—Owens has five—and hasn’t been much of a factor when the game’s on the line.

    Ochocinco declined to talk to the media on Wednesday, a day after he got emotional on his cable show with Owens when the subject of the Bengals’ losing came up. Owens repeatedly prodded Ochocinco to get back to playing the way he used to play.

    “What you want me to do?” Ochocinco said, his voice rising. “I’m on the field. I’m available. I wear No. 85. I’m out there. I’m out there—I’m going to leave it at that. There’s nothing I can do but make myself available, period.”

    Palmer didn’t take it as a dig at the quarterback.

    “We’re on a four-game losing skid and haven’t been productive on offense,” Palmer said. “We talk every day. We talk about trying to be more productive and get him the ball and everybody else on offense. I am not taking that as he is calling me out, but I hear him and I sense his frustration.

    “I’m frustrated with the same things he is, and I always try to find ways to get him the ball.”

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    Default Re: Bengals’ offense going nowhere on 3rd down

    Hopefully the D can make their 3rd down woes continue...and get off the **** field for a change.

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    Default Re: Bengals’ offense going nowhere on 3rd down

    Starkey: Bengals revert to form

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Only an idiot would have predicted the Cincinnati Bengals to repeat as AFC North champions.

    I'm an idiot.

    I should have listened to the people who ridiculed me, who pelted me with rocks and garbage, who told me it was insane to think the Bengals would build on their success of 2009. This franchise treats success the way Randy Moss treats caterers ("I wouldn't feed this to my dog," Moss reportedly said Friday, as workers served his soon-to-be-former Minnesota Vikings teammates).

    The Bengals have not made the playoffs in back-to-back years since 1982. They have not won a playoff game since Jan. 6, 1991, nine months before another forlorn sports franchise — your Pittsburgh Pirates — most recently recorded a postseason victory.

    I should have listened to Hines Ward and LaMarr Woodley in training camp, when I asked them if adding Terrell Owens to a Bengal mix that already included the likes of Chad Ochocinco, Pac Man Jones, Tank Johnson and Antonio Bryant (before he was cut) could possibly work.

    "We'll see," Ward said then. "If they have success, it'll work good. But what if they're not having success?"

    Yeah, like what if they're 2-5 after seven games and challenging the Cowboys and Vikings for the title of NFL's Biggest Bust?

    Woodley had a point, too, when I asked about the T.O. factor and whether it might push the Bungles over the top (as opposed to over the edge).

    "You've been seeing T.O. on a few teams," Woodley said then, "and what difference did that make?"

    Here's why I thought the Bengals would go 10-6 and win the division: I spotted a different breed of cat — a better breed — at Heinz Field last season and didn't see a good reason why that should change. It looked as if the Bengals had finally taken a hint from all those Steeler-perpetrated beat downs: Be more like them.

    Cincinnati won an 18-12 battle of attrition that day, proving it could out-slug the neighborhood bully. That was a tough, patient team last season. It relied on a power-running game featuring Cedric Benson and a stout defense under fiery coordinator Mike Zimmer.

    All of the defensive starters returned, as did injured players such as safety Roy Williams and since-suspended pass rusher Antwan Odom. What's more, the Bengals' weak passing game figured to be much better with quarterback Carson Palmer returning to form and a bunch of new pass catchers led by T.O.

    Seven games in, it's hard to pin the Bengals' demise on T.O., who has put up nice numbers. But you also have to wonder if his addition has come to personify a team-wide personality change, from bulldogs to divas.

    Just the other night, on the hideous but somehow riveting "T.Ocho Show," Ochocinco seemed to call out Palmer, reminding everyone, "I'm on the field. I'm available. There's nothing I can do but make myself available."

    I asked Palmer, on a conference call Wednesday, if he happened to catch the show.

    "I didn't," he said. "What'd I miss?"

    Informed of Ochocinco's comments, Palmer said, "I"m not taking that as him calling me out. But I hear him."

    Bengals coach Marvin Lewis got a laugh during his conference call with reporters when he was asked about Moss' availability. Lewis has enough to worry about these days, including the fact he is in the final year of his contract. Perhaps idiots like me should have seen that situation as the biggest clue as to why the Bengals could not sustain their Steelers' imitation from last season.

    See, the Steelers historically have made certain that everyone, especially the guys in the locker room, know the coach is boss and is backed by those above him. They do this by extending his contract with multiple years remaining, even if he is coming off a bad season.

    It's as if Steelers management is telling the world, "We believe in our coach because we believe in ourselves."

    In Cincinnati, they failed to re-up Lewis after a division-winning season. There is a very real chance he will be gone after this, his eighth year, which raises a question: What would he do next year?

    Maybe he could manage the Pirates.

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