Morning Links (and Daily Thread)…

A quick daily look at what’s happening around Steelers Nation. And consider this your open thread for discussing the days events and, well, anything else that comes to mind about the Black and Gold.

– There were some rumors floating around on Thursday that the Cincinnati Bengals might be thinking about releasing Antonio Bryant, possibly eliminating a small part of the appeal to that team: a bunch of insane wide receivers that could lose their minds at any moment. Granted, even without Bryant, they still have plenty of options.

Are you concerned about their passing attack, which has a lot of volatile, high maintenance big-name players? Put me down for a “no.”

Actually, I think I’m more concerned about Baltimore’s receivers, mainly because I’ve always had a ton of respect for Derick Mason as a football player. He’s as underrated as they come — though, I suppose he’s getting dangerously close to that line of being so underrated that he’s actually kind of overrated — and damn productive. And now he has an actual No. 2 (more like another No. 1) to line up across from him.

So, what do you think, fellow loungers: which passing game is a bigger threat? Cincinnati or Baltimore.

In other news, former Browns whipping boy Derek Anderson will be starting the next preseason game for the Arizona Whisenhunts, which doesn’t seem like good news for Matt Leinart.

– Another look at the quarterback situation, this time from Dale Lolley. [NFL From The Sidelines]

– Ryan Clark spent Thursday evening Tweeting about the Packers-Colts game on ESPN, and was very impressed with Aaron Rodgers. And for good reason, the Packers quarterback was ripping the Colts defense to shreds. [Twitter]

– And for your random YouTube of the day: Troy Polamalu’s first NFL touchdown, courtesy of Carson Palmer.

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  • Dean Keaton

    If I have to pick one, I’d have to say that the Cincy passing game will be better, though neither one really scares me. Palmer still hasn’t been the same since his knee injury, and Flacco and the Baltimore passing game will improve a little this year, but the Ravens are still a running team. On that same point, the Cincy offense will be heavily running-game as well, I think, and the passing game will be good but not great (perhaps ranked 10-15 in total yds)

    Bottom line – the key to stopping both offenses is to stuff the run. Either QB can beat you in the air, but not consistently.

  • Cols714

    I think Baltimore’s passing game will be slightly better. Although neither of those passing attacks are scary. Flacco and Palmer just weren’t all that good last year.

  • FW

    Baltimore has a much better OL, IMO: that Dallas-Cinci preseason showed some nasty holes in the Bengal OL. Run support, Benson has been a boon and Bernard Scott flashes some stuff, but Ray Rice is a bona fide beast, and McGahee is his backup. Seriously, there are some teams where McGahee could start. And put me down as a big fan of Le’Ron McClain: I’d give back Ryan McBean and Matt Spaeth for McClain any day of the week. So Balty has the edge there.

    Flacco gets way too much sunshine from the talking heads, and somehow Palmer does too. Agree that he’s not been the same since he was Kemoed, but it really seems like the issue now is the elbow, which hasn’t been as live or as accurate since he had Tommy Johns surgery. IMO, Flacco has better upside, and showed good progression from Y1 to Y2, whereas Palmer is now a solid top-15 guy the rest of the way. Compare Flacco’s stats last year to Palmer’s, and throw in Ben’s 2008 season for fun. Flacco gets the nod if for no other reason than youth/health and a stronger arm.

    And he’s had shit for targets, Mason aside. Heap’s been as reliable as a rusty jalopy, and don’t make me look up the Ravens roster for the other shlubs. It’s been utter misery for the purple rats. Adding Boldin is like adding a Hines Ward; Donte Stallworth ain’t great, but he improves the mix; I think David Reed out of Utah is a nice sleeper pick who could pay dividends in years to come. They also did a great job with TEs in Ed Dickson out of Oregon and Dennis Pitta out of BYU, both of whom will contribute immediately IMO. TEs vex the soft middle of our scheme, and Dickson and Pitta will have their best days against us. With the Ravens secondary looking shabby, the passing game may put up big numbers to comepensate.

    Everyone’s in love with the rejuvenated Bengals receiving corps, but Chad and TO are a combined 68 years old: this ain’t the old days when Chad and Houshmandzadeh were both young threats. Antonio Bryant looks like an IR guy, or a guy they’ll PUP and possibly reactivate when Ocho or TO breaks down: and you know damned well something’s going to explode after the Bengals glide through their first 6 games. Ego, ego, ego. Yes, let’s put out the fire with gasoline. They have some nice young guys to develop (Quan Cosby is a 27 year old 2nd year guy, if you want to call him young, and Shipley could be OK). There’s also a lot of never-weres and never-gonna-bes clotting up the roster. They’ve lacked a presence at TE, and Jermaine Gresham could be a real nice addition, again hitting the Steelers in their traditional blind spot. Chase Coffman might still have a career at TE, maybe. But overall, the Bengals receivers are too far stretched between the extremes of old and young, and if anything upsets the glorious lovefest that is Ocho and TO now, there’s little behind it.

    Bengals sched: @ Pats, Ravens, @ Panthers, @ Browns, Bucs, bye, @ Falcons, Dolphins, Steelers, @ Colts, Bills, @ Jets, Saints, @ Steelers, Browns, Chargers, @ Ravens. I think the Bengals start strong and the Ravens finish strong, which means the Bengals could start 6-2 before running into something of a buzzsaw, with 2-6 a very real endgame. If that starts to unfold, the love is gone, and so is the pass attack. The Ravens are less dependent upon the caprices of their receivers: Mason and Boldin et al. are there to get the job done, lunchpail.

  • Johnny_S

    Great website you all have. I am loving these posts. Keep up the good work.

  • Dean Keaton

    Good thoughts, FW. I agree that the Bengals should start strong and fade, while the opposite might happen with Baltimore. All the while it will seem like we’re playing catch-up because of missing Ben for the first 4 (hopefully only 4) games.

    I think the whole experiment of TO & 85 will blow up right about week 10-11. It’s a good thing this is Friday, because I’m now thinking of good headline predictions… Here’s one to get started:

    “Batman calls Robin a Rat!”

  • Mike L

    An interesting stat I saw at football outsiders, they have Boldin rated 38th among wr, which is very low, IMO and his backup steve breaston is at 27th, Larry Fitzgerald is much higher. Can anyone shed some light on why he is rated so low. I understand he is a very good blocker but it would seem there are some weaknesses in his game.

  • FW

    A single year’s stats can be misleading. Accepting FO’s rating metric, you’re better looking at his 5-year window and noting that Boldin’s had his share of dings.

    Here are his DYAR rankings by year (catch % in parens):

    ’09 – 38 (66%)
    ’08 – 9 (71%)
    ’07 – 17 (71%)
    ’06 – 31 (55%)
    ’05 – 17 (60%)

    I think catch % is always a very telling stat. Hines and Heath always rate reliably high; Holmes was inconsistent; Nate was always about a 50% guy. If you want to build a receiving corps, you need that possesion guy who grabs everything coming his way. Three of the last 5 years Boldin rated 17th or better in DYAR, but 4 of the last 5 he had 60% or higher in catch %. The last 3 years (66%, 71%, 71%) really strengthen the Ward comparison.

    Compare to Ward:

    ’09 – 9 (69%)
    ’08 – 7 (66%)
    ’07 – 40 (64%)
    ’06 – 25 (59%)
    ’05 – 6 (61%)

    Like Boldin, Hines had 3 of his 5 years above 20th (or 17th) best, and 4 of 5 years with a catch rate at 60% or better.

    Average out those 5 years’ ratings for each player (sum divided by five: not accurate, but big-picture close) and the ratings are Boldin 22.4th best (64.6% catch rate), Ward 17.4th best (63.8%). I’d say that gives the edge to Ward, but a decent point of comparison. Both players are steady, with some blips, go-to guys who anchor the receiving corps. It will be interesting to see how Fitz’s numbers move without Warner and Boldin.