Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Bengals' offense lacking a facet


Receiving totals by TEs among lowest in NFL

By Kevin Kelly
Enquirer staff writer

Play No. 38 of the game belonged to Reggie Kelly.

Late in the third quarter of the Bengals' 23-10 win against the Broncos on Oct. 25, quarterback Carson Palmer zipped his first and only pass to a tight end.

"I was fortunate enough for them to call that pass play," Kelly said. "And I was grateful to catch it."

[img]
Bengals tight end Reggie Kelly (82) flips over Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck (53) in the first quarter Sunday.
(AP photo)
The 14-yard reception proved key, because it preceded a 36-yard touchdown run by Rudi Johnson that put the game out of reach.

"Any time you have tight ends that can block and catch it, it just adds another dimension to your offense," Kelly said. "That's what the coaches expect out of us."

The Bengals' trio of tight ends - Kelly, Matt Schobel and Tony Stewart - caught 58 passes for 625 yards last season.

It was the team's best mark for a tight end group since the 1995 season.

"We have three very capable guys," Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes said. "All three have a good grasp for the game and a good understanding for what we're trying to get done."

Their numbers are down through the first seven games this season, but so are the overall figures for a Bengals offense that all too often has been asked to play scoreboard catch-up.

Cincinnati's tight ends enter Sunday's game against the Cowboys with 11 fewer receptions and 248 fewer yards than at this point last season.

Schobel leads the group with 11 catches (30th among NFL tight ends) for 67 yards and one touchdown.

"Carson is coming along," Hayes said. "He's grasping it more and more, but it's going to take time.

"Our (tight ends) have to understand that and continue to make him feel comfortable, and make sure we're where we're supposed to be. So that if he does look our way, he knows where we'll be every time."

A look at the AFC on Tuesday showed a correlation between rushing success and tight end production.

Seven of the AFC's most run-dependent offenses - based on average rushing attempts per game and yards per game - also have players who rank among the conference leaders in tight end receptions.

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates has caught 49 passes for 546 yards and five touchdowns. San Diego, which boasts LaDainian Tomlinson in its backfield, ranks ninth in rushing offense (134.1 yards per game) and eighth in rushing attempts per game (30.2).

The Chiefs have the AFC's top-rated rushing offense (167.6 yards per game) and the third-leading receiving tight end in Tony Gonzalez (34 catches).

"When you really run the ball efficiently and effectively, it makes a huge difference," Hayes said. "It creates a lot of situations that allow your tight end to get open."

The Bengals, who aim to establish the run each week, rank 12th in the AFC in rushing offense (100.1 yards per game) and 13th in rushing attempts (25.4).

They have run the ball 178 times for 701 yards, down from 195 attempts at this point last season.

"One helps the other," Hayes said. "If we're running the ball well, you're definitely going to open things up with the tight end."

But the value of a tight end is not solely in the reception totals and receiving yards.

Much of the job involves blocking for the running backs and pass-protecting.

"We do a lot of blocking, because it's very important in this style of offense," Kelly said. "We also run a lot of routes. It goes both ways. It just depends on the game."

Kelly, Schobel and Stewart have their own strengths and roles. Rare are those tight ends who excel in every facet of the position.

"To be quite honest, most of the time you're finding a guy that can do one, a guy that can do the other," Hayes said. "You try to work it all together so that it will fit what you have.

"We have very capable players and we've got to make sure we put them in situations where we can show off their strengths."

ROSTER MOVE: The Bengals waived defensive tackle Greg Scott on Tuesday.

The second-year player, who was active for Sunday's loss against the Titans, had been signed Friday after spending the first six games on the practice squad. He can be re-signed to the practice squad today if he clears waivers.

Run to pass

An effective running game often benefits a tight end. Seven of the AFC's top receiving tight ends play on teams that rank in the conference's top 10 in rushing offense or rushing attempts per game.

AFC TIGHT ENDS (ranked by receptions)

RankPlayerTeamRec.Yds.TD
*1.Antonio GatesChargers495465
2. Randy McMichaelDolphins425353
*3.Tony GonzalezChiefs344534
*4. Daniel GrahamPatriots181805
5.Doug JolleyRaiders171862
6. Jeb PutzierBroncos162441
*7.Marcus PollardColts141293
*8.Chris BakerJets131103
*9.Ben TroupeTitans131220
10.Courtney AndersonRaiders131751
16.Matt SchobelBengals11671
25.Tony StewartBengals6380
28.Reggie KellyBengals5280
NFL'S TOP RECEIVING TIGHT ENDS (through Monday)

RankPlayerTeamRec.Yds.TD
1.Antonio GatesChargers495465
2.Eric Johnson49ers464932
3. Randy McMichaelDolphins425353
4. Jason WittenCowboys393913
5.Tony GonzalezChiefs344534
6. Alge CrumplerFalcons314412
7.Jeremy ShockeyGiants273192
8.Jermaine WigginsVikings242022
9.Freddie JonesCardinals221921
10.Chad LewisEagles211861
30.Matt SchobelBengals11671
43.Tony StewartBengals6380
50.Reggie KellyBengals5280

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E-mail kkelly@enquirer.com




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