There are some areas the team needs to work on in the upcoming game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The offense moved the ball very well last week (497 total yards), but bogged down in the red zone. I'm not too worried about what happens in the opener. The starters will play more this week. The backups will have a better idea of what they're doing. Expectations change. We need to score touchdowns. I know that the coaches are going with a limited playbook, but scoring touchdowns should be more about execution than playcalling. We all knew Emmitt Smith was getting the ball when Dallas got inside the 5-yard line, but stopping that guy was brutally hard. Kolb, his blockers, and his skill players all need to do a better job this week when we get near the goal line.
The starting defense didn't have any problems. I'm sure something will arise. The backups had some issues in coverage. Jacksonville gashed us with big pass plays due to sloppy coverage. That is something we need to correct, even though it was the backups. Those guys will get mixed into the lineup this year as injuries occur. Gaping holes in the secondary are unacceptable.
The special teams had one major fault. We didn't cover kickoffs well at all. Coach Bobby April seemed to think our practice habits were the problem. He's adjusted the way things were done this week. We'll see if the changes pay off on Friday night.
The Bengals will be a good test for us in a few ways. They have a physical front seven. Our offensive line should be in for a better challenge this week, both in the run game and pass protection. Andrews could be in for a big test if he gets to face rookie Geno Atkins, an undersized rusher with good quickness. That is the kind of player that ate Andrews up last year. The Bengals will know who Austin Howard is this week. You can bet he'll get somebody's best shot. Howard will almost certainly face a bigger guy. That will give him a chance to show he can anchor and handle power rushers.
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Cincinnati has a pair of terrific receivers in Chad Johnson and Terrell Owens. They are big and run good routes. Our defensive backs need this kind of challenge. A good game by Hobbs this week will really mean something. Nate Allen should get tested more. Our front seven also has a good matchup. The Bengals like to run the ball with a downhill, physical style. We don't have the biggest linebackers so it will be good to see how they hold up. This game will hopefully give Trevor Laws the chance he needs. The Jaguars only had nine running plays last week. I want to see teams run right at Laws so we can find out if his added bulk and strength will truly make a difference.
• Daniel Te'o-Nesheim didn't stand out in the opener. He needs to pick up the pace if he wants to keep his spot in the nickel defense.
• Backup tight ends Clay Harbor and Cornelius Ingram need to have some passes thrown their way to we can evaluate them. You can bet the coaches will force the ball to them at times. Harbor showed a lot of potential as a blocker.
• Riley Cooper was very good last week and needs another strong game to make a push for the number four receiver spot. The Bengals have quality cornerbacks and should be a tougher test for him.
• Chad Hall had a couple of big plays last week. He needs more of the same to keep his bid for a roster spot going.
• An injury limited Quintin Demps last week. It will be great to have him back out there so we can see if how improved he is. The reports from Lehigh have been very good. Now, we need to see Demps play well in a game.