As the Cincinnati Bengals take the field for their first OTAs of 2009, the Doubting Thomai are out in force. Doc tinkles in the team’s Cheerios, writing that “the D is good, but still not Pittsburgh good or Baltimore good. The running game is suspect, the pass defense still lacks a consistent rush and anything approaching a shutdown corner.”
Over at ESPN, John Clayton continues to damn the Bengals with faint praise. “The only true additions to the Bengals’ roster were defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who signed a one-year, $670,000 contract; safety Roy Williams, who signed a one-year, $900,000 deal; and fullback Brian Leonard, who came from St. Louis in a trade. He’s making $460,000,” he notes. “That’s barely $2 million of additions.”
And, of course, there’s WDR, which can always be counted on to accentuate the negative: “My harping is not aimed at these players themselves. It is aimed at the coaches and the owners ability to put their talent to proper use…And they have proven over the last 18 years that they cannot do it.”
All three raise fair points. Daugherty is right that there are questions at many positions. Clayton is right that the Bengals weren’t the biggest spenders. And WDR is correct that developing top-tier talent like Andre Smith, Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson hasn’t exactly been the Bengals’ strong suit.
Yet at the same time, I can’t help but be amused by how far afield the doubters have to go to kill the Bengals’ hopes. “The D is good, but still not Pittsburgh or Baltimore good.” Really, Doc? Well, y’know, there aren’t too many defenses that are Pittsburgh good. Isn’t that sort of like complaining that a wideout is good “but not Larry Fitzgerald good” or a running back is good “but not Jim Brown good”? Why not complain that Carson Palmer is good “but not Johnny Unitas good?”
And I’ve got just one question for Clayton: if the Redskins had signed Albert Haynesworth to a one-year, $900,000 deal, would you pooh-pooh that, too? As for WDR, as one of their commenters pointed out, if you have to go back three years and two teams ago to complain about Tank’s troubles off the field, you’re reaching.
Again, that’s not to knock any of the basic critiques. Positions do need to be sorted out, players do need to be developed and free agents do need to perform. And that’s precisely what offseason workouts and camps are supposed to accomplish. So welcome back to the field, Bengals. Time to stop talking and start doing.