The Dearly Departed, Regular Season Wrapup


During free agency ’08, the Bengals lost three players — Landon Johnson, Madieu Williams and Justin Smith — and in their final cuts released fan favorites Rudi Johnson and Willie Anderson, as well as Deltha O’Neal and Ahmad Brooks. So, how did this years’ crop of ex-Bengals fare in the final week of the regular season?

First up, those whose year is done:

  • Rudi Johnson didn’t play in the Lions’ record-setting 16th loss Sunday. He finishes the year 76/237/1 on the ground and 12/88/1 through the air, with 1 fumble. Final verdict: The decision to cut Rudi in August in favor of Chris Perry was clearly a poor one, though much of Perry’s struggles were due to lousy o-line play and it’s arguable whether Johnson would have had much more luck given the lack of quality run-blocking. But the arrival of Cedric Benson, who ends the year with 932 combined yards and 2 TDs in 11 games, saved management from looking like complete fools for letting Rudi go.
  • Justin Smith had six tackles, a sack and a pass defensed as the 49ers ended the season with a win over the Redskins. For the year, Smith recorded 73 tackles, 7 sacks, 3 passes defensed, a FF and an INT. Final verdict: Smith’s replacement in Cincinnati, Antwan Odom, had trouble staying healthy, appearing in 12 games and starting just 8. He racked up 26 tackles, 3 sacks and 2 passes defensed in that time. Clearly, Smith had the better year, but retaining him would have meant a huge contract – the 49ers gave him $45 million over six years — that few Bengals fans believed Smith, who has yet to have a double-digit sack season, was worth. So even though Smith had the better year, it’s hard to ding the Bengals for allowing him to leave.
  • Ahmad Brooks was inactive for San Francisco all year. Final verdict: The Bengals have to be given a thumbs-down for this wasted third-round pick.
  • Deltha O’Neal had one pass defensed in New England’s futile victory over Buffalo. His season totals are 32 tackles, 8 passes defensed and 3 picks. Final verdict: Deltha’s spot as the No. 3 corner was taken over by David Jones, a second-year player who had 43 tackles and 6 passes defensed in 2008. While O’Neal clearly had a better year, the Bengals’ defense finished ranked 15th in passing yards allowed, and it’s difficult to see O’Neal’s presence over Jones’ as having more than a marginal impact on that. It looks like the Bengals made the right call in cutting Deltha, but it’s also evident that further upgrades at corner are still needed.

As for former Bengals in the playoffs:

  • Willie Anderson started his 11th game for the Ravens Sunday. Anderson appeared in 12 of Baltimore’s regular season games. Baltimore travels to Miami next weekend for a wild card game.
  • Madieu Williams had 9 tackles as Minnesota squeaked by the Giants 20-19. He ends the regular season with 42 tackles, 2 picks and 3 passes defensed. Due to an early injury, he played in just 8 games. The Vikings host Philadelphia in a wild card matchup next Sunday.
  • Landon Johnson got Peter King’s nod as special teams player of the week for his forced fumble that gave the Panthers a free touchdown which proved crucial in a game eventually decided by a field goal. He finished the regular season with 16 tackles to go with that single forced fumble. The Panthers have a first-round playoff bye next week.