Whomever the Bengals hire as their new offensive coordinator (and I do not pretend to know enough to say who that should be), he will have plenty of work to do to fix the mess left by the Bratkowski. (Chad Ochocinco might not understand the firing, but we do.)
Joe Reedy takes a look at some of the challenges facing the new coordinator. I will add some thoughts of my own.
Quarterback: Carson put the position in question with his request for a trade. We may never know if he did it because he couldn’t take another season with the Bratkowski. But once the new coordinator is named, he needs to quell the questions and state his intentions. If he is out, he should say he’s retiring. If he is coming back, give us the word in whatever PC lawyer-speak is necessary. (“I’ve had time to reconnect with my family and put the season in perspective, and I’m excited for next season.”)
If he doesn’t say anything, then open up the spot for competition. Let’s see what LeFevour and whomever they draft can do. Carson can run circles around them if he wants. But make him earn it again.
Running Back: This decision is much more important than WR. Marvin looks like he wants a hard-running, AFC North-style offense like 2009. That’s a good thing. So they had better line up a hard-running, AFC North-style back. Like Cedric.
With the Bratkowski gone, bringing back Cedric should be easier. I’d love to see him back in stripes, but at what price? You’ll hear some fear his age (he’ll be 28 next season), but he has a lot less wear than the average 28yo RB since Chicago buried him his last couple of years there. I’m more curious what his asking price is. Whatever it is, it had better come with fewer drops and a willingness to share the load with Bernard Scott.
Tight End: Jermaine Gresham. Chase Coffman. Done. Unless Reggie Kelly wants to play another year, get him on staff to continue grooming those two.
Wide Receiver: There is no true #1 receiver, whether or not Chad is a Bengal. Ergo, the talking heads believe that the Bengals draft A.J. Green. But as Joe points out, does drafting Green at #4 make sense given the questions at QB?
Returning to a run-first offense, receiver has to wait. The Bengals can’t draft everything they need in the first three rounds. Gresham, Shipley, Ochocinco, Caldwell, Simpson and Coffman won’t strike fear in opposing defenses, but as I see it, the total is more than the some of the parts. There is enough talent there that, with a respectable game plan, the Bengals can keep defenses off balance and can move the chains.
If you insist something has to happen, you’d better look to free agency. Limas Sweed, anyone?
Tackle: LT, check. RT, uh-ohhh. We can’t count on Andre Smith to be able to support his own weight without breaking his foot, so I don’t count on him being available. Until he can prove that he can play more than 6 games in a season, Anthony Collins is the only viable in-house option. And AC has earned a legitimate shot to earn the spot.
Guard: Yikes! I’ll keep preaching it… let Dennis Roland and Nate Livings walk. They might be great guys, I don’t know, but they are in over their heads almost as much as I would be. Evan Mathis is worth keeping. Will Bobbie Williams bounce back from a rough year?
Depth is sorely lacking. That is why I argued on Monday that the Bengals would do best to use their first pick on the O-line, if they can trade down. Solidifying the line must be the #1 priority in the draft and whatever free agency there is this year. Must.
Center: Kyle Cook has been a substantial upgrade from Eric Ghiaciuc. He has been solid enough for me that I give him a new deal.