Sunday, October 12, 2008

Your Cincinnati Bengals are NOT going to go 0-16. It’s harder to go 0-16 in the NFL than it is to go 16-0. Even in the deep, dark bad old days (and I know anyone under 20 can believe there were bad old days worse than these new days), even back in the David Klingler, Artie Smith, Rod Jones-The First, Jeff Query bad old days, the Bengals never managed to go 0-16. Always, late in those lost seasons of the 90’s, there was a team or two that’d swagger into Riverfront Stadium all full of itself and expecting a win just for showing up. Invariably, the Bengals would get a win. Doug Pelfrey would kick a last second field goal, Harold Green would watch a couple of defenders slip and run for a score. Presto, 3-13 season. Believe in those miracles. They could happen this year too.

What we’re witnessing this season should come as no surprise to anyone. It’s the mythical tri-fecta of bad football: poor drafting, bottom feeding in free agency, injuries. That not opinion. It’s fact.

Look at the Bengals drafts since 2003, the year Marvin Lewis arrived. They had the number one overall pick that season. Hard to miss on Carson Palmer. Who were you going to take besides him? Byron Leftwich? Terrence Newman? How about Charles Rogers. That would’ve been a stellar selection. Fact: any of the other 31-teams would’ve taken Palmer with that first overall. Everyone of the first 10 teams selecting needed a quarterback that season. But look what happened after that.

Eric Steinbach in round two, good selection. Bad business decision to let him walk after the 2006 season. They passed on Antwan Peek from right here at UC and Lance Briggs. Rounds four through six, busts. Only tackle Scott Koostra remains. They took him in round seven.

2004, trade down with Denver. But, there’s Steven Jackson sitting there. Oh, wait a minute, here comes Chris Perry. Up until this season, a litany of injuries.

2005 draft. We know that sad story. David Pollack round one, Odell Thurman round two, Chris Henry round three.

At a time when high draft picks should be playing in their prime in Cincinnati, they’re either out of the game, or someplace else.

And what about the free agent market? Best free agent on the block in 2007 was Adalius Thomas. He was done in Baltimore. But what a ride he had there. The Ravens played him at linebacker, down lineman, even safety. He was a playmaker, difference maker. Would he have made a difference here? Are you kiddin’ me? Did the Bengals make a run at Thomas? Are you kiddin’ me? No, they dropped a chunk of bonus money on Justin Smith two weeks before free agency began that winter. They couldn’t, or wouldn’t do a long term deal with Smith before the 2006 season. That money they used to tie up Smith with a franchise player tag would’ve been a nice part of a deal that might’ve attracted Thomas here. Instead we got this bucket of bolts in free agency that winter: defensive linemen Kendrick Allen and Michael Myers and linebacker Ed Hartwell. Allen and Hartwell were gone by the final cut of the 2007 training camp. Myers turned out to be, just a guy.,

Thomas, meanwhile, helped the Patriots to a 16-0 regular season.

And injuries: Pollack broke his neck, done with the game. Perry hasn’t been healthy, really, until this season. 2007 second round pick, running back Kenny Irons blew out his knee in an exhibition game last summer. He’s never recovered and has been released.

So where the Bengals are today should be anything but a surprise. They have a good quarterback, two, maybe three good wide receivers. If this was arena league football, they’d be all set. On defense, it’s better this season, but where are the playmakers? Why do they constantly lose the time of possession,? Allow, consistently 200 yard rushing days by their opponents? Where is the defensive lineman who can rush and sack the quarterback?
Opening remarks pp.3

The Bengals want to do it there way. They don’t want to hire a general manager, they have a small scouting staff, they don’t manipulate the salary cap like the Patriots, Cowboys and Redskins.

Can they win doing it their way? Yep. Why not? But their wiggle room, their margin for error, is a lot tighter than it is for most of the other teams in the NFL. It’s a lot of pressure to get it right.

Doing it their way, the Bengals have to “hit it out of the park” with every draft pick and with every free agent they sign. They haven’t, they’ve had too many whiffs.

No secret, no mystery why they are now 0-6