Single page view By Jason Whitlock
Special to Page 2

I saw more from the Cincinnati Bengals that I liked last Sunday night than I disliked.

Carson Palmer is a big-time quarterback. He made several throws under pressure against the Jaguars that were spectacular. Cincy's running game is legit, too.

Cincinnati's defense has a few holes. The secondary is mediocre at best; the front four, besides potential star Justin Smith, is below average; and the Bengals' linebackers are just OK.

The Bengals will be decent whenever their offense gives them to a lead and allows Marvin Lewis to take some risks with his defense.

Bottom line: The Bengals were overhyped, but they're better than I originally thought.

Sorry to disappoint you if you thought I was going to gloat about picking the Bengals to lose at Jacksonville. As the foremost authority on all things NFL, I'm embarrassed that the editors of this column screwed up and subtracted a point from each team on my prediction.

Here are 10 more NFL truths:

10. In Tampa's disgusting loss to the New York Jets, Brian Griese reminded me why I predicted he'd be a flop as a starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos.

Brian Griese
A little contact goes a long way with Brian Griese.

Griese's heart pumps Kool-Aid.

The outcome was determined in the game's first 10 minutes, when the Jets attacked Griese with a relentless pass rush, sacking him three times. Thanks to a fumbled punt, the Buccaneers led 3-0 after one quarter. But Tampa's offense never had a chance after Griese absorbed an early beating.

Griese never challenged the Jets downfield. He was too concerned about a potential pass rush to look for receivers more than 5 to 7 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. He was never sacked again the rest of the day, but the early message to Griese allowed Herm Edwards and his defensive staff to sit back in short zones and wait for Griese to make mistakes.

Griese's favorite target was cornerback Ty Law, who should've had three picks. He settled for one.

If you ever wonder what makes Tom Brady the NFL's best quarterback, watch Brian Griese play and then watch Brady. Football is a contact sport. Griese is afraid of contact.

9. You don't have to be Michael Vick to run the ball effectively from the quarterback position.

Do NFL quarterbacks realize a 3- or 4-yard run and hook slide is better than an incompletion?

Mark Brunell absolutely threw away a nice Redskins rally because he refused to jog in a two-point conversion. Rather than waltz around left end for two points and the tie against Denver, Brunell threw a hopeless, harmless fling into the end zone at the end of Washington's two-point loss to the Broncos.

Unless there are 15 unimpeded yards in front of them, it takes a court order to get a lot of NFL QBs to run 4 yards upfield and fall down.

8. Brian Billick has not "lost control" of the Baltimore Ravens.

Billick and his inept offense have frustrated Ravens defenders to the point that they're cracking under the pressure of having to carry Billick's quarterback-handicapped offense.

That's not an excuse for the 21 penalties and two ejections the Ravens endured during their embarrassing loss to the Lions. It's just a statement of fact. Ray Lewis and the rest of Baltimore's defenders have been under enormous pressure for years. I feel sort of sorry for them.



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