Did anyone think at this point last year that we would be in this situation this year? We all of the sudden may be looking at a completely new Offense. Carson wants out…..Chad is working on that exit ticket……T.O. is a free agent. Everyone was talking playoffs and championships. Now barely one year later we are just hoping for 8-8 and a win or two against the Steelers. Here is a quick peek into the future of our new look Offense.
QB- Palmer took a lot of blame last year for a lot of different things. Some were his fault, but looking back a lot of it wasn’t. Coaches harped on Simpson not being ready because they couldn’t trust him to be where he was supposed to be while running his routes. How many times did the “Diva Twins” run the wrong route? How many times did they just make up things as they went along? Answer: WAY TO MUCH!!! Now Palmer is fed up and wants out and we had to draft Andy Dalton this year. Dalton is a great pick up for our team and I am very excited for his future. All that said I do not believe he is ready for the Ravens or Steelers this year. If we had the O-line of 2005 then it would change things completely. To many young quarterbacks get pounded behind bad lines and lose their confidence in themselves. Not what you want happening with your new franchise QB. If we drop the divas on Offense then I believe we can get Palmer back for a year with the promise of a release after this season. Mike Brown will not let him go to another team unless he stays and helps out this year.WR- This is where we are going to see a big turnover. Chad and Lewis are fighting like school girls writing notes back and forth. T.O. was running his mouth as usual at the end of the season and doesn’t want to come back. AJ Green was taken 4th overall in the draft. He is a very high character guy that speaks softly and just wants to play football. Even if he is never more then a number 2 WR (I highly doubt) we will be a much better team. With Chad and T.O. more than likely on their way out it doesn’t make me nervous one bit. Without them two I don’t see any issues involving character. Hard hat blue collar guys that will come to work everyday. I think even if Green caught 8TDs in one game he wouldn’t brag or boast. He would probably be all smiles but still respectful. Very young group with buckets of talent and heart. Caldwell is probably our number 4 which is sad because I really like the guy and believe Gruden’s system fits him much better. Cosby might be one of the last cuts of training camp. Shipley will increase his production at the stat perspective, but I envision more clutch moments this season. Simpson is going to blow it up this year. The little taste he got last year will only make him work harder. Chad is a great person and loves helping people, but we are all growing tired of his other side. Let them two walk and give the young guys a shot. Can’t get to much worse then it is already.
RB- If we can not get Benson back in the fold then look at us to hit the free agent market hard and fierce. I believe Benson will return, but if he doesn’t we could always get a guy like Michael Bush from Oakland. We tried to get him a few years back and the man is HUGE and can make plays. Perfect for our division. Plenty of fish out there if we are forced into that route. B Scott is a playmaker with tons of potential. Brat had no clue on how to use him or when. No matter who is back or brought in you can bet your bottom dollar Scott’s touches will go up this year. Brian Leonard was a hero in the 09 season, but like Caldwell went to the back of the bus. Leonard was hurt for a little while so we can’t fault him to much. Cedric Peerman is still young and has shown some potential. If Benson leaves and we don’t get a free agent it will be tough sledding this year. I would say this is the most critical position this offseason.
TE- Reggie Kelly should be back this year and be much more improved. Year two is always better after an achilles injury. Age is a little concern for most, but we need more players like him to help the youngsters out. Chase Coffman showed much improvement in his second year. He will help us in jumbo sets and goal line packages in the redzone. Add in Gresham and Green and we shouldn’t have much trouble down there this year. Also who really expected Gresham to block as well as he did? Sure Kelly helped him a lot on that, but he was supposed to be another Coffman when it came to that. He will improve much on that in year two. Gruden will use the heck out of this guy if Dalton starts the year so his numbers will improve. Much more then numbers though look for him to bust out in the leadership department as well.
OL- That Whitworth pick a few years back is suddenly looking genius. Elite started who will one day earn that Pro Bowl invite. LT….Check. LG is wide open and I am so happy with the Clint Boling pick. He is very smart and versatile. I have no doubts that he will be a starter this year. LG….Let us pray. Center Kyle Cook should be back this year for us. He’s not great in pass protection, but he’s much better then what we had before or without him. C….Check. Bobbie Williams is getting up there in age very quickly. He is very durable though and is solid for us there. Helps our running game more then people give him credit. He has been the glue on the right side for awhile now. LG….Check. RT Andre Smith or Anthony Collins? All of us hope Smith gets healthy and stops eating twinkies. He is a huge man that is very athletic for his size. Chronic foot problems have plagued his career thus far although when he is out there he shows flashes of greatness. If there is any doubt about his foot or weight then sit him. Collins is not elite, but he gets the job done. Keep a tight end by him in the run game and he will do fine. RT…..Let us pray some more.
With so many questions and what ifs this has to be one of the weirdest offseasons in a long time. We were so content and complacent with what we had most of the younger generation thought it would never end. Out of nowhere we fell back to reality.This is the NFL (Not For Long) and things change suddenly. We will look completely different than one year ago. No more reality shows (unless Chad stays) or Superbowl hoopla. All the sudden we have a new rookie OC and more then likely a new WR/QB tandem. That is a lot of change for any team let alone one as fragile as our beloved Bengals. As I said before I am very glad our schedule isn’t like last years or we’d probably be picking #1 overall in next years draft. Look for us to play solid D and run the football. All in all I would say we would be looking at 7-9 next year. Not bad for all the changes. Our new guys will have growing pains that will cost us some close games, but the main thing will be the hope and flashes of our future that will keep us optimistic for many more years.