Week 10 Q&A: Bengals Blogger Josh Kirkendall

Blair White tries to make an endzone catch at the Bengals in preseason. (Tom Strickland | AP Photo)

Each week Coltzilla will preview the upcoming game by speaking with fellow bloggers who write about the week’s opponent.  This week Coltzilla speaks with Josh Kirkendall from Cincy Jungle to get a Bengals perspective on our upcoming match-up.

CZ: Bengals fans must have been excited for Terrell Owens arrival in Cincinnati.  After his great performances, Chad Ochocinco has shown some unrest on the sidelines.  How do you think their relationship will affect this offense if things turn sour?

JK: Well, the Bengals are already 2-6 and out of the playoffs. So if it hasn’t affected their relationship by this point, it’s doubtful that it will. The two are often seen together on the sidelines with neither making gestures of frustration nor the obvious heated arguments we’ve seen from Chad or Owens, individually, when talking with Palmer. Most of Chad’s frustration isn’t so much that Owens is getting most of the attention – Chad understands why Owens is the team’s targeted number one receiver. Most of Chad’s frustration is, at least he claims, is that he’s always double teamed, forcing Palmer to look away from him. Chad just wants to be more involved in the game to help the team win. But sometimes he allows his emotions to get the better of himself, as we say on Monday Night Football.

CZ: Five years ago, Carson Palmer was widely recognized as a top five quarterback in the NFL. Since then he has suffered a couple of injuries and he is really only performing at an average NFL starting quarterback level.  Are Bengals fans still behind Palmer and how do they explain his decline?

JK: Fans mostly remain hopeful that he’ll turn it around and produce like his elite levels in 2005 and 2006 and most fans understand all of the elements around him. Last year he didn’t have many receiving options and in the past three seasons, his blocking hasn’t been stable, forcing Palmer to make throws before the routes have fully developed. Palmer had one of the best offensive lines from 2005 to 2006 and that level of protection hasn’t returned since then. Finally, his elbow injury has largely remained in the minds of Bengals fans when his throws show a degree of inaccuracy and his velocity is noticeably down since 2008.

CZ: Last year Cedric Benson reestablished himself as one of the top 10 running backs in the NFL, this year his struggles have returned.  What is the best explanation for his decreased production in 2010?

JK: Aside from defenses game-planning against Benson and the Bengals running game, simply put, the Bengals fall behind quickly in games that the running game has no rhythm. After using Benson, say on the first drive, four straight times, they’ll start going away from him and using him once out of every five plays. By the second quarter, the Bengals are losing and by the third quarter, the team basically ditches the run in favor of the pass because they’re quickly in come-back mode. But he’s playing with the same patience and strength and virtually looks like the same runner as last year.

CZ: Name one player on the Bengals team that Colts fans probably know very little about whom you see having an impact in Sunday’s game.

JK: You probably know of him, but Jordan Shipley is coming along nicely. He’s the team’s rookie wide receiver, starting primarily as the slot receiver. Of his 28 receptions, six have gone for 20 yards or more and 19 have resulted in a first down. He leads the team with a 14.1 yard/reception average and two weeks ago, against the Atlanta Falcons, Shipley took a five-yard pass and literally surprised the entire defense by burning past the secondary without being touched for a 64-yard touchdown. Keep your eye on him, especially if the Bengals are in third and long and the Colts run a Tampa Two style defense.

CZ: Some fans are down on your team because of the struggles but we also have injury issues effecting our play.  For this match-up what is your prediction on the score and who wins? Why do you think they will win?

JK: Aside from the fact we don’t play good ball against good teams – with the exception of  our intra-divisional rivals — the Bengals haven’t beaten the Colts in Indianapolis since November 9, 1997. Manning is an undefeated 6-0 and more importantly (aka, scary), Robert Mathis and Dwight Freeney will eat our offensive line alive in the passing game, especially with our starting right tackle suffering a broken foot this week during practice.

If the Bengals have a chance, we need to keep Manning off the field and the defense has to revert to last year’s bend but don’t break, sitting on seam and post routes more exclusively, hopefully forcing Manning into mistakes

Colts 35, Bengals 20