Like most here I really didn't know what to expect. The D had looked pretty pathetic in the last 2 exhibition games, while the offense looked pretty good. Plus Cinci was coming into this game with a lot of fire power on both sides of the ball. Well here are my thoughts
The BAD: (So I'm nit picking....its my right
1. The only time the offense was stopped was when they stopped themselves. Brady and Faulk missed connections when he was wide open TWICE killing drives Both were balls we've come to expect Faulk to catch, but on one Brady should take the blame. One drive was killed by a rather specious holding cal, and other by Randy's slight bobble. On every occassion we were our own worse enemy.
2. At the end of the half we made a tactical error that cost us points. If Brady had merely spiked the ball he would have had time for another play He could have spiked with 12 seconds instead we threw a meaningless pass and had only 6 seconds which left only time for the long FG.
3. BB should have challenged Shipley's 3rd down catch. It really looked like a pick to me, and I think the replays confirmed it. I don't understand why he didn't challenge it. If they had the D would have looked even better
4. On their last offensive play, the Pats, Brady had Faulk WIDE open in the flat when he tried to force the ball into Welker. I really hope that Brady isn't going to start to look at Welker at the exclusion of others, like it seemed sometimes last season. He has a lot of weapons this season.
5. Missed tackles - There were certainly a lot fewer than last season, but enough to make mention
6. Hernandez dropped what was a great throw by Brady to the only open spot available. I know Felger said it was a bad throw by Brady, but that only proves my point.
7. I don't want to see that running play where the TB runs a counter to the weak side. He literally has to run about 5 yds parallel to the LOS in the opposite direct of the blocking strength just to get to the hole, Amazingly we ran the play about 3 or 4 times and I doubt we got 2 yds combined
The GOOD: Lots of Good
1. First let me note that Cinci is going to be a very good football time. I was impressed with Palmer. He threw a lot of passes into very small targets during this game. His receivers made a number of very tough catches as well. And though while it wasn't perfect the run D held a rushing attack that was one of the best in the league last year. This is an offense that I believe will be very productive the rest of the way.
2.It should also be noted that the Bengals last season had the 4th best overall defense. They were 6th vs the pass 7th vs the run, and 6th in scoring. As far as I know they weren't missing anyone and had the same DC. So it wasn't some rinky dink D we pushed around out there. This offense is as good as we thought it might be.
3. RBs- I loved what BB did with Taylor - First Talyor looked great, but BB is definitely going to keep his carries to a minimum. Its a long season and today is the last day Taylor (or any RB for that matter) is going to feel 100% BB know Fred's age and isn't going to ride that horse hard. BJGE is what he is, but I'll be happy when Moroney is back to share the load.
4. QB - It was easy to see the improvement. Tom looked much more composed in the pocket, and except for a about 4 or 5 throws was very accurate
5. WRs - Welker and Moss were like they never stopped playing from last year. Even Tate got a taste or two.
6. TE's - I think we got a taste of what that package might bring today.....just a taste. All three have proven they can be more than blockers, though Crumpler and Gronk are very good
7. OL- I saved the best for last - I'm as frustrated about the Mankins situation as the next guy, and I hope it gets resolved, but that OL did a great job in both aspects of the game. Again that was not a weak Defense either. I did get concerned when Neal went out, and was greatly relieved to see him return to the game. I like our OL, but I'm not thrilled with our depth. Getting back Mankins and Kazcur will go a long way in solving THAT problem.
8. DL - Now granted I didn't pay as close attention in the 2nd half, but the first half was a revelation. The Pats completely shut down the Bengals running game and provided consistent pressure to Palmer for most of the game. Not great pressure, but a lot more than it seemed we got last season....especially in the first half
It should be noted (and I'm sure it has been
), that the DL was definitely not just standing there and taking on blockers. They were attacking the LOS more than I've seen a Pats team do in recent years. Clearly BB is playing to his teams strengths in this regard.
9. ILBs - That was a remarkable catch by Gary Guyton. If you watch the replay carefully it looks like the ball was past him, when he literally takes it out of the TEs hands, and he caught it with his hands in the absolute worst position to catch a ball. I've seen the replay a dozen times and I still can't figure out how he caught the ball.
Mayo and Spike showed well against the run, and surprising well vs the pass, certainly better than what we've seen this preseason. Now they both weren't as effective in the 2nd half, but that might have been more of a function of the score
10. OLBs - Ninkovich amazingly seemed to stand out more than the rest of OLBs. Aside from about 3 rushes TBC seemed pretty ordinary to to me and badly missed one tackle on a receiver in space. This isn't to say they played badly, they just by and large didn't stand out. I was particularly disappointed I didn't hear Cunningham's name called.
DBs - McCourty stood out, Chung Stood out. Merriweather Stood out. Butler covered better than the numbers indicated. ChadO caught a lot of balls that were either right on the money into very tight coverage, or simply made some great catches. I thought both CBs tackled exceptionally well. Wilhite was solid in the slot and while I love James Sanders, I'm real glad he's not starting any more.
Overall I was VERY happy with the defense. Again that is a VERY good Bengal offense, and even when they were scoring, I couldn't help notice how grudgingly we were giving yds up. It seemed every first down was a struggle. Lots of 3rd and shorts just barely made. Good open field tacking and tight coverage, with lots balls having to be fit in very tight windows, and good catches made. When you compare it to the wide open receivers the Pats had most of the time, it was pretty impressive, A good start for a defense we hope will be much better at the end of the season as they mature.
On offense I think we all feel better about the run game. It will never be our bread and butter, but I should be good enough to compliment a very exciting passing game. It will also be exciting to watch how the TEs are integrated into the offense. It was fun to see the taste we got....knowing it was only a taste.
Now who is it that we are playing this week........