In their 0-2 start this season, the Bengals haven't moved the ball and they haven't been scoring points as they have in the past. The numbers compiled by their two Pro Bowl wide receivers epitomize that.
Houshmandzadeh and Chad have totaled 11 catches and 129 yards between them. While the Bengals have gone into the season wanting to emphasize the run more, it wasn't meant to be at the total expense of their Pro Bowl receivers. Rather it was to enhance the passing game.
Nothing about the Bengals in their losses at Baltimore and against Tennessee has been enhanced.
"It's going to take one big block, one big run by Chris (Perry), one 50-yarder, one play by T.J., myself or anybody, and it's going to get that confidence back," said Ocho Cinco on Wednesday. "It's going to get that swagger back for us offensively.
"I don't think really – to tell you the truth – any of us are playing with any confidence right now."
That's a pretty strong statement from one of NFL's most exuberant characters, a player who one would think never has lacked for confidence.
"I would tell you from myself, we know the kind of swagger that I carry," said Ocho Cinco. "My confidence is not where it needs to be at all. I'm sort of frustrated with the way things are going the past two games. Again, from myself – I can speak for T.J. also and Carson – it's going to take that one play that's going to put that pep in your step and going to get that swagger back.
The Bengals have yet to get that one big play. Their longest pass play of the season has been a 36-yard gain on a screen pass to DeDe Dorsey on the final play of the first half against Tennessee that did nothing but run out the clock. The longest run has been their only offensive touchdown of the season, a 13-yarder by Perry against the Titans.
"I think we've got to make some explosive plays and right now we're getting outnumbered that way," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "And when we do, and put an explosive play upon an explosive play, that'll make a big difference. Those chunk plays that you get, those things - they change field position, they change the game, they change where you are, they change your call sheet. There are a lot of things they change. And we need to get some of those."
Palmer, for one, is taking the responsibility on his shoulders.
"There are always some situations where they're going to try to double those guys," said Palmer. "There have been some games, especially against Baltimore, where Chad was virtually double covered on every single play. Some of it's me just missing guys, like I had T.J. open on one play last game. It's been a combination of teams saying, 'We're not going to let Chad beat us, and we're not going to let T.J. beat us,' and also my fault, so I need to do a better job of getting the ball to the guys when their shots are called, and we need to keep running the ball and keep being aggressive in the run game to not let a defense take a guy out of the box and get them on Chad and try to take Chad out of the game."
Things won't get any easier for the Bengals this week. They travel to the Meadowlands to take on the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, a team that has the No. 3-ranked defense in the NFL through the first two weeks, behind only – yeah, you got it – Baltimore and Tennessee.
The Bengals are next-to-last in total offense in the league, ahead of only St. Louis.
"For us to actually get to where we want to, before you name the receivers, before you even name the quarterback, it all starts with that offensive line," said Ocho Cinco. "It don't start with us at all. I think it starts with the offensive line. It's going to have a trickle effect. When they're playing well, Carson's going to play well, and it means us on the outside, we're going to play well. Because if it doesn't start with them, the rest of us really don't matter."
Ocho Cinco was asked if he still had confidence in the offensive line:
"Oh, yeah, yeah," said Ocho Cinco. "We've got one of the better lines in the NFL. We've got one of the best and the mojo is going to click. I'm just saying that it starts with them, not with us. We can be as good as we want to be."
Houshmandzadeh and Ocho Cinco combined for 2,583 yards receiving last season, or 62.5 percent of the passing yards the Bengals accumulated. It was 45.4 percent of the total yards the Bengals produced on offense.