A few musings in the aftermath of the Bengals' 34-21 victory in Buffalo on Sunday: -Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson got the last word on Bills head coach Rex Ryan. Whether it was gamesmanship or whatever on Ryan's part when he A.) signed former Bengals quarterback Josh Johnson earlier in the week and then B.) made him a captain for the game even though he'd been in Buffalo slightly longer than Sunday's snow squall, who knows?
But it didn't work because people are beginning to talk in Western New York. Not many forget the Bills hired Ryan at the 11th hour instead of Jackson after Jackson had pledged to keep defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Bills sack artist Mario Williams apparently questioning the defense in the postgame was a nasty juxtaposition.
Ryan pointed out the Bengals' 355 yards were under their second-ranked average, but the Bills were at sea most of the day against the changeups Jackson pumped at them. Just take a look at the first two drives of the second half that won the game and where 11 of the 20 plays were run out of no huddle.
-In the first one, the Willie Mays Hayes Memorial thanks to wide receiver Marvin Jones' four catches for 66 yards in the drive, the big plays unfolded mainly out of formations consisting of two tight ends, two wide receivers and a running back. But only after the Bengals started the drive with three receivers on one snap and three tight ends on another and the providing a wrinkle.
(By the way, the triple tight end set birthed tight end Ryan Hewitt's first catch of the season.)
The Bengals switched up to the 2-2-1 on the sixth play of the drive and the Bills blitzed middle linebacker Preston Brown and safety Corey Graham on second-and-eight from the Bengals 42. Running back Giovani Bernard got in the way long enough to allow Jones' Say-Hey catch right over the top of his head for 42 yards.
When Jones made his big catch-and-run 10-yard TD two snaps later, it was also out of a 2-2-1. But there were no backs; Bernard was split wide left with Hewitt in the slot and tight end Tyler Eifert at the end of the line. Jones and wide receiver A.J. Green were split wide right with Green in the slot. They ran a screen to Jones coming back from the perimeter, Green got a good block, and center Russell Bodine motored out of nowhere to clean out cornerback Stephon Gilmore at the goal line to make it 24-14.
-The Bills were clearly back on their heels and Jackson ramped up the no huddle on the second series, but did it largely with three wide receivers, one tight end, and a back. On third-and eight the Bengals had Eifert and Bernard next to Dalton to protect against the blitz, but the Bills dropped both safeties and it allowed slot receiver Mohamed Sanu to run past nickel back Nickell Robey for 24 yards.
Cincinnati Bengal travel to face the Buffalo Bills in week 6 of the regular season
Then they no huddled to the line with that personnel and Buffalo had to call timeout when they saw Green, Jones, and Sanu lined up behind one another on the far right and they had only 10 men on the field.
The Bengals stuck with three receivers and they ran out of no huddle four straight times against five DBs with Hill twice for 13 yards and then Bernard for 13 more.
-That set up Jackson's piece de resistance from the 4. They rolled out four tight ends with rookie left tackle Jake Fisher one of them, Hewitt lined up in front of Bernard and when Eifert split out right to be isolated on safety Bacarri Rambo, rookie tight end Tyler Kroft came in motion the other way. Eifert was no match for Rambo in the end zone.
Bengals, 31-14 with 1:42 left in the third quarter.
WHIT, NFL NETWORK REACT:
Amazing that about the only exposure the Bengals get nationally is when they're literally exposed on NFL Network.
It rankled Bengals left tackle Andrew Whitworth enough that he fired on the NFL's media policy Monday and Alex Riethmiller, NFL vice president of communications –NFL Media, responded as NakedGate emerged for the Bengals as they begin their bye week.
Twenty-five years to the month Bengals head coach Sam Wyche launched a crusade to ban women media from NFL locker rooms, they found themselves embroiled in another locker room issue sparked by a mere mistake.
Whitworth, a captain and the senior player on offense, is among some players caught in various stages of undress Sunday when NFL Network taped a post-game interview with Bengals cornerback Adam Jones in the locker room following the 34-21 win in Buffalo and the clip morphed into a social media sensation.
"It was a regrettable mistake by our production team," Riethmiller told a conference call of Bengals media on Monday. "We've already done a pretty thorough review of the pictures and processes that were dropped along the way to make sure it doesn't happen again."
But it probably will since there have been various examples of naked players down through the years of televised sports. Riethmiller said his statement stands as an apology to Whitworth and anyone else affected.
But that probably won't mean much to Whitworth. As the Bengals former rep to the NFL Players Association, Whitworth responded by pushing for an overhaul of the NFL media policy that would call for interviews to be done in rooms separate from the locker room.
"This is a big issue to me. I've pressed this issue before with our union and the fact I think it's wrong," Whitworth said. "This is my office space. I shouldn't have to change in it and be in front of people I don't know or really don't have any purpose for being near me other than the fact they are interviewing other people. If I was a woman, this would be a completely different subject, and it would be a complete firestorm."
Whitworth said he was particularly thinking of his toddler daughter Sarah and what would have happened if she had to go to school Monday.
"For me personally and my wife, we're fine, but I think of it as if I have my daughter, Sarah, who is 16, and she had to go to high school and listen to all the crap that's going on today in the media about me being naked on camera," Whitworth said. "Whatever would happen to her to ridicule or mock her, that's the way that I see it, and as a father and a man, it's wrong.
"We can't always just serve women and everyone else. Men deserve a right too. We have rights. We have privacy. We deserve all the things we want as well. As a man, I think it's right the policy is changed."
Whitworth is urging that rooms in the facility be used to conduct interviews other than the locker room.
"They can interview who they want or pull who they want aside. It's no different than what the coaches get when we come off the practice field," said Whitworth of the Bengals media policy. "You can grab them and have access to them. It could easily happen. Unless you are a quarterback or a star player who gets to go in a press conference, you have to sit in a room, and I've multiple times witnessed guys that are butt naked who are about to do an interview after a game or anything else."
Jeff Legwold, president of the Pro Football Writers of America, said Monday his organization is always going to push for open locker rooms after a game because there has to be an assurance all players and coaches will be available. But this particular case doesn't apply because NFL employees aren't part of the PFWA membership.
EVERYONE HEALTHY: We still have to wait on Pro Bowl WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict to know if he'll practice next week when the Bengals prep to play the Steelers Nov. 1 in Pittsburgh. But head coach Marvin Lewis said Monday anybody that played in Sunday's win in Buffalo is going to be ready to play the Steelers.
So that means a pair of defensive starters who left with ankle injuries in the second half, right end Michael Johnson and WILL backer Vincent Rey, should be fine after the bye. It sounded like Lewis is giving the team Wednesday through Sunday off after Tuesday's practice.
HUE WANTS MORE FROM HILL: Bengals running back Jeremy Hill is tied for second in NFL scoring with six TDs and he caught his first NFL touchdown pass Sunday in Buffalo, where he rushed a season-high 16 times for 56 yards.
But Jackson indicated he'd like to see a little more north and south and a little less east to west.
"I thought he played better yesterday, but he still doesn't play like I want him to play yet, I'll be the first to tell you guys that. I'm not going to run from that, he can't run from it either," Jackson said. "I mean, there's another level for him and he'll get there and I believe that with my whole heart. . . . He scored a touchdown yesterday, he had some good strong runs but I know the player he can be so I'm going to keep pushing him to get there. I mean, we need him. He's going to be a huge part down the stretch run once we get back here."