Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just wonderin' ...

Since Sunday, Joey Porter's Pit Bulls have had a niggling feeling that we've seen this somewhere before.

By "this," we mean the pass-rush schemes employed by the Cincinnati Bengals. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer reportedly insisted that his outside rushers (defensive ends and linebackers) stop rounding off their rushes and stop running past the pocket (and Ben Roethlisberger) -- and instead cut short their pursuit lanes at a certain point, as if on a 90-degree angle.

The idea was to contain Roethlisberger from doing what he does so well, which is to improvise, scramble, buy time and throw on the run while rolling out to one side or the other. Just ask the Broncos about the open lane left open by an onrushing defensive end who simply got pushed past the pocket -- Roethlisberger deftly stepped forward, through the open space, and launched a howitzer shot to Mike Wallace at the goal-line for a touchdown in front of late-arriving Broncos' safety Brian Dawkins.

Well, on Sunday, the Bengals maintained their lanes, contained Roethlisberger and harried him all afternoon -- knockdowns, batted passes, sacks, you name it.

Anyway, it occurred to us we've seen this tactic before. Remember Kordell Stewart? His career went downhill, rapidly, once defensive coordinators figured out the way to contain him -- which is precisely what the Bengals did on Sunday.

Granted, Big Ben is much, much better than Kordell -- there's no comparison (zero!), except perhaps for the mobility factor, to a point -- but it will be interesting to see whether other teams employ tactics similar to what the Bengals used on Sunday.

It is, after all, a copycat league.

Animal Rescue League Dog of the Day


Honey is sweet.

Honey is a beautiful Golden Lab mix who is
five or six years old, so she's pretty mellow and very gentle.
Honey is extremely friendly and affectionate,
and she is extremely easy on the leash.

Honey also smiles pretty much all the time.

Honey needs a home.

Learn more about Honey by e-mailing

Or, visit Honey in person/dog at
The Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania,
located at Fifth and Hamilton in East Liberty-Side/Shadyside
or whatever the realtors are calling my neighborhood these days ...
It's near Trader Joe's and the Nabisco plant (now being developed as Bakery Square).

The Bengals Sign Larry Johnson

Cincinnati is a division rival, so this development is of interest to Steelers' fans, but this also is a compelling story for anybody who follows developments in the NFL.

In the wake of last weekend's injury to running back Cedric Benson, who entered Sunday's game vs. the Steelers ranked as the NFL's second-leading rusher, the Bengals have signed former Pro-Bowler Larry Johnson, whose production has declined steadily but precipitously over the past two years.

Let's see ... is this a good move for the Bengals? ... considering Johnson is or might be (choose one or all):
  • A chronic prima donna
  • A perpetual self-absorbed "me-first" whiner
  • Worn out, old and over the hill, with too many miles (and hits) on his wheels
  • Did we say "old" (he turns 30 on Thursday) for a running back, especially considering the number of hits he's endured over the years behind woeful offensive lines at Kansas City
  • A potential threat to Cincinnati's newfound, feel-good locker-room chemistry
  • Dogged by controversy, off-the-field problems and conflicts with various coaches throughout his career
  • In a role now, according to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, whereby he "...would be used as a fourth running back and an opportunity as a backup player on this football team doing all the things backup players do, and that's work their tails off in the kicking game and showing looks [on the scout team] and so forth that way. And then he would be an insurance policy if something would happen down the line to one of our guys where he'd have a chance to be active."
What Could Possibly Go Wrong?