The Bengals are not a team with high hopes for 2011. After ending the 2010 season at 4-12, they lost Ochocinco to the Patriots and Terell Owens to retirement. Carson Palmer, their quarterback, demanded to be traded and refused to show up for practice. Palmer was so down on the team that he said, as quoted, he "will never set foot in Paul Brown Stadium again."
Needless to say, 2011 is going to be a rebuilding year for the team. Having lost their QB and top 2 WRs, the Bengals are relying on their rookie draft picks, QB Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green, to lead their team. On WhoDeyFans, "success" for the Bengals is defined as defying their already meager expectations:
For me, a guy who figures this team will win 3 or 4 games, I would call 6 wins in 2011 a successful season. For the Bengals to end up 6-10, they would have gone at least 2-2 in the first four games of the season (@CLE, @DEN, SF, BUF); snitched 2 or 3 more wins from the Jags, Seahawks, Titans, Browns, or Rams; and then capped the season with a suprising home win over the Ravens.But let's focus on tonight. Last week, the Bengals went down 34-3 to the Lions. Going into this game, Bengals bloggers like Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Bengals Blog are hoping the freshman offense can pick up 6 for the first time this year: "I think the biggest thing is if this offense can produce a touchdown." That sentiment is echoed by Jason Garrison of Cincy Jungle:
...it would be nice to see the starting offense get more than three points on the board, especially if that touchdown came from Dalton.Garrison's article is an excellent primer on the spots at which the Bengals need to grow. The Jets should expect to see Cedric Benson testing their defensive line quite a bit, especially with the Bengals' brand new receivers covered by Revis and Cromartie. Like the Jets, the Bengals o-line is also in flux, having been a bit porous last week. Garrison expects to see the Bengals test their rookies at guard today:
Even if the team loses on Sunday, scoring a few points would be a great confidence booster for the offense. Likewise, not scoring any points would be a confidence killer heading into the third preseason game.
The middle of the line currently consists of Nate Livings at left guard, Kyle Cook at center and Bobbie Williams at right guard. Livings has been the main target of the majority of all the negative comments about the line and Williams, one of the team's leaders, is entering his 12th year and may be starting to show some signs of his age.In addition, there will also be position battles to watch in the secondary, at tight end, and for the fifth and sixth wide receiver positions:
Offensive line coach Paul Alexander said this week that he will be putting the team's fourth-round pick Clint Boling into the game early to see how he does at the guard position against the defense's starters. It's unclear as to which spot he'll go in first, left or right, but we know he will play both positions by the end of the game.
Quan Cosby appears as a favorite to return as the team's punt returner. That being said we didn't lock him in for that fifth wide receiver position simply because he hasn't been as active. Cosby should make his preseason debut this Sunday against the New York Jets after fighting muscle soreness. If he can't go then Jamere Holland will return punts. Rookie Ryan Whalen, another receiver expected to be a primary special teams contributor, isn't expected to play Sunday.Lastly, Cincy Jungle has a piece up detailing the web of personal connections between the two teams. It's an interesting read, but long, so all I'll pull from it is this:
While we still believe Cosby is a favorite for the fifth spot, he still needs to reclaim it and show that he's healthy. That sixth spot is even more wide open for Whalen, Holland, Landon Cox, Andrew Hawkins, Bart Johnson, Calvin Russell and John Standeford.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan coached two seasons with the University of Cincinnati (1996-97) after coaching two seasons at Eastern Kentucky (1987-88) where he earned his Bachelor's and Master's degrees. Ryan would go on to serve under Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis for three seasons while Ryan coached the defensive line. Later he coached at Morehead State (1990-93). Bryan Dermody, New York's assistant strength and conditioning coach, coached at Louisville from 2006-09.