|Bengals, Seahawks each getting defensive in search of an immediate rebound|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 20 September 2007 15:31|
That is, if you can ignore the Bengals' look-at-me receiver, who is promising to do something ``classic'' in his first NFL trip into Seattle.
Cincinnati's real circus right now is its defense. The Bengals looked like bumbling clowns last week while losing 51-45 to woeful Cleveland and its castoff quarterback, Derek Anderson. The debacle made an opening win over Baltimore seem more the product of the Ravens' six turnovers than of Cincinnati's skill.
``You know how I look at it? It's our fault,'' Johnson said of an offense that is third in the league scoring 36 points per game, entering Sunday's meeting of the Bengals (1-1) and Seahawks (1-1).
``Because they scored 51, that means we should've had 52,'' Johnson said. ``I'm serious. Some of the defensive players try to say, 'Oh, it's our fault.' Man, don't worry about it. This is how our offensive mind-set has to be: We have to outscore our opponent, period.''
The Seahawks aren't exactly thrilled with their remade defense, either. The unit that rebounds better will likely determine whether the Bengals or Seahawks become 2-1.
Johnson, the league's leader in receiving yards (304), has plenty of precedent for thinking his offense must carry the defense.
In Week 9 last season, Cincinnati allowed 42 points - in one half- while losing 49-41 to San Diego. The following week, at New Orleans, the Bengals got shredded for 595 total yards and 29 first downs.
This week, coach Marvin Lewis - a former defensive coordinator at Baltimore and Washington - and his current defensive coordinator, Chuck Bresnahan, have emphasized tackling in search of a turnaround. In practice, the Bengals have been practicing tackling form on each other, without driving players to the ground.
``It goes right back to when you were in eighth grade,'' said Lewis, who is 36-30 in his fifth season leading Cincinnati.
The defense's captain, tackle John Thornton, promises ``We're going to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.''
Offensive tackle Willie Anderson said that'd be nice, because ``I'm pretty sure you're not going to see a 45-point explosion against Seattle. It's going to be tough for us as an offense.''
Maybe. Maybe not.
The Seahawks would love to be excited over this apparent opportunity for their offense, which has been skittish since their Super Bowl loss 19 months ago. But they are too concerned with their own defense. It got manhandled by Arizona in a 23-20 loss last week.
After gloating about knocking runner Carnell ``Cadillac'' Williams and quarterback Jeff Garcia out of a win over the Buccaneers in Week 1, Seahawks defenders couldn't get within jab's reach of Edgerrin James and Matt Leinart. Even though the Cardinals started a rookie free-agent center and two other new blockers, James ran for 128 yards and Leinart threw for 299 yards, the second-highest total of his career.
Leinart has played in 14 NFL games. He has not been sacked in just two of them - both against the Seahawks.
``I was concerned after I saw the film, yeah. I didn't think we played very well, to be honest,'' coach Mike Holmgren said of a unit with new starters at defensive end (Patrick Kerney, $19.5 million guaranteed) and safety (Deon Grant, more than $11 million guaranteed and Brian Russell, $3 million guaranteed).
``Did I expect more? Absolutely. For all the reasons you mentioned, I expect improvement. We have good guys over there. We should be better ... I talked to the team about it. I've addressed certain players. I did what I had to do. But, yes, I expect more.''
Yet Holmgren is well aware that Cincinnati has firepower that could make his team wish it was back in Arizona.
Carson Palmer leads the league with eight touchdown passes. Johnson is even more dangerous because T.J. Houshmandzadeh is leading the NFL with 17 catches opposite him.
``T.J. can do it all. Runs good routes, catches the ball in traffic,'' Seahawks cornerback Marcus Trufant said.
So Holmgren is turning his defensive thinking upside down this week, to guard against big plays.
``Most defensive coaches, I think, would tell you, 'Let's take care of the run first, and then we'll play defense.' We said it on many teams,'' Holmgren said. ``This team, I think you almost have to flop it a little bit. They want to throw the ball - they're good at it, they're big-play guys - and then (you) rally to the run.''
Problem with that is the last time Rudi Johnson ran against Seattle, in 2003, he had his first career 100-yard rushing day in a Bengals win. So Johnson could be right.
Another Cincinnati shootout could be brewing.
AP Sports Writer Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this report.