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Titans @ Bengals: 5 Questions with Cincy Jungle

Josh from Cincy Jungle was nice enough to give us some information about his Cincinnati Bengals

MCM- It seemed that Chad Johnson was nothing but a distraction during the offseason.  Has he been welcomed back into the fold with all of that being water under the bridge?

Cincy Jungle- The offseason Chad Johnson, Ocho Cinco, Ochocinco, Johnson, had has been well documented. Truly, his arguments for leaving Cincinnati, on the surface, were consistent with the fan's perspective. We all want to win, and Johnson questioned that commitment after last season and wanted to bail. However, it was also rumored that Chad was in desperate need for more money since the last contract he signed was front-loaded with guarantees; basically forcing a pay-raise through a trade. Though I made the point several times that I don't believe Chad was a catalyst in his offseason; rather horrible advice from his agent, Drew "Oil Slick" Rosenhaus advising Chad to run a character-suicide campaign.  

Once training camp got going, and once "Oil Slick" bailed on Johnson after he realized no trade or extension was going to happen, Chad came back to us; with the added promise that the Bengals would review financial compensation if he performs at the high level we expect of him.  

Now he's saying all the right things. Before the season started, Johnson apologized to the team, the media and the fans for his disrupting behavior in those weird ESPN interviews, or general national coverage that were uncomfortable (and frustrating) for everyone involved with the Bengals (including fans). Now he's even helping Bengals fans to put last week's loss into perspective; which is not something Chad is known for doing.  

MCM- How serious is that injury to Johnson?  Is he playing at 100%?

CJ- That's what he'll tell you. The biggest issue he's facing with the partially torn labrum is that he's lacking full reach. Based on the style and technique he uses, it shouldn't hurt him much. Chad is a "gut catcher", most of his receptions are caught around his body. However, that has a lot to do with Palmer's accuracy, not forcing his receivers to reach and extend themselves.  

Truly, we don't know the actual effects yet. Baltimore's defense used linebackers on our receivers, beat them up at the line of scrimmage, eliminating Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh from playing a major role; both combined for four receptions.  

We should see how well Chad will do, with his injury, against a more conventional defense.  

MCM- Palmer has his top 2 completion days in his career against the Titans?  Do you think he will be able to match that on Sunday?  Why or why not?

CJ- Palmer's season started horribly; an extension of a horrible preseason; primarily the result of poorly performed protection schemes with the offensive line and running backs. Often times, our offensive coordinator sends out running backs and tight ends forcing five guys to protect Palmer with no help; which hasn't worked for much of the preseason or last Sunday's game.

The key to Sunday's game is the obvious, novice commonality. If Palmer can get protection to sit in the pocket, and dissect coverage schemes, he'll do what he does best; pick apart defenses and stretch the field. This offense is ready to break out, salivating at the chance to redeem themselves from those that demand production to help out our young defense. However, in the past five games, dating back to the preseason, the trend with this offense can be summarized with "broken pass protection".  

MCM- How do you think the Bengals are game planning for Chris Johnson?

CJ- The Bengals defense will play with passive aggression, thanks to first year defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer. We play gap control defense, with above average linebackers and a below average defensive line. However, our young cornerbacks (Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall) are being groomed as "Island guys"; not always requiring safety help over the top, or linebacker help underneath. This allows the Bengals to run more blitzing schemes; especially against the rush.  

If the Titans run up the gut, between the guards, I would suspect we'll give up around five yards or so, per play. We're much better defending the edges than last season. Chris Johnson will be a good test for this young, reformatted defense.

MCM- My standard 2008 5th question: What will the headline be in Monday morning's edition of The Tennessean?

CJ- "Bengals offense rebounds with lopsided win". You expected something unbiased? :-)

As always head over there to see his questions and my answers.