Morning Stripes: Pressure, practice, Dalton

January, 14, 2014
Jan 14
8:00
AM ET
It was inside Cincinnati Enquirer columnist Paul Daugherty's Monday column that a somewhat interesting possible Cincinnati Bengals practice revelation was unveiled.

The overall column was part retrospective, taking a look back at the innovator of the no-huddle offense and sharing his thoughts on the modern-day league and the modern-day team in stripes that still hasn't won a playoff game since he was in his late 40s.

That man was Sam Wyche, the former Bengals coach who helped set an offensive pace that is replicated across the NFL to this day. Although he hasn't coached since 2005, Wyche, 69, apparently believes he still can. His age and health might be an issue for some, but it seems he wishes that wasn't the case.

Deep in the column, while Daugherty shared Wyche's thoughts on the both good and not-so-good versions of Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, the former coach discussed what he felt was a problem around the league with respect to practice philosophies. He didn't believe enough coaches these days were practicing pressure situations with their quarterbacks often enough. He felt too few were taking their signal-callers through two-minute drills every day. Not enough were forcing their offense to drive 90 yards or more to score until too late in the week. Not enough were forcing their playmakers to convert on third-and-longs each day between Wednesday and Friday.

He could be right. With practices closed, though, only the Bengals know what really goes on inside their tree-lined, three-field practice cocoon.

Upon first reading them, Wyche's comments took me back to phrases I used to always hear Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher utter when I covered that team. In practice, he'd say, "We like to put our team in positions of failure." What he meant was, he wanted his quarterback to convert that third-and-13. He wanted to see if his receivers could break at the right spot on fourth-and-5. He wanted to see if his offense could go 85 yards and score in fewer than two minutes.

Fisher said it a lot last season and the season before. I'm sure he said it often this past, national championship season, too.

Maybe Wyche is on to something. Or maybe, with respect to the Bengals, he doesn't fully know what he's talking about. Either way, it all sounds like a novel concept. While practice can be a great time to work on fundamentals, and timing with receivers and running backs, and installing game plans, it also ought to be a time when your quarterback and key players are put under extreme amounts of pressure, so they don't feel it on Sundays.

Because if the last three playoff trips are any indication, the Bengals, particularly on offense, just weren't very well prepared when the bright lights came on and the real pressure came.

Here's Tuesday's brief Morning Stripes:
  • First, the link from the Enquirer to Daugherty's piece with Wyche.
  • Next, a quick blog post from the Enquirer's Joe Reedy on the awards that Bengals players received Monday. Defensive end Robert Geathers, who tore his triceps in the second game of the season, was named the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner. Each team selects a winner for that award. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict also was named to the Pro Football Writers of America's All-AFC team.
  • Speaking of Geathers, Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson has this item on the award winner. With a healthy Geathers, the Bengals' defensive line next season could pick up right where it left off this season. Michael Johnson figures to be gone when free agency starts, but Geathers will return to an end rotation that will feature Carlos Dunlap, Wallace Gilberry and Margus Hunt.
  • One more list of awards and an end-of-year wrap can be found in this item from Bengals.com. Hobson looks back at the season and provides his highlights and low lights.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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