The Bengals are getting out of their comfort zone and doing “un-Bnegal-like” things. There may be more moves to come and the next move could surprise many!
Mike Brown and Marvin Lewis are two of the most loyal guys in the NFL. The majority of the time, if a player signs a contract with the Bengals, that player can expect to play out his contract, even if their performance slips. This is why the release of Brandon Lafell was surprising and very un-Bengal like.
In fact, this whole offseason has been filled with moves that contradict the Bengals’ usual patterns. The Bengals let long-time assistant coaches walk, such as Paul Guenther and Paul Alexander. They were willing to completely scrap systems that were comfortable for them, deciding to go in a new direction both offensively and defensively. Again, this change went against the Bengals’ usual course of action. The Bengals are making moves that in the past would make them very uncomfortable. In the past, the Bengals have relied upon known quantities – one in the hand is better than two in the bush for Lewis and Brown
The way this off-season has gone has made me very intrigued and excited. It also has me thinking what could be next, or even who could be next
I know some may think the next surprise cut could be Michael Johnson. That move would make sense because he has a big salary for someone who is now more of a rotational guy. Cutting him would save money against the cap (roughly $5 million), and they could use that extra money to extend the likes of a Geno Atkins or Carlos Dunlap before the season. In my view, that decision makes so much sense that it wouldn’t be a surprise to me at all.
So for my first article as a contributor at Stripe Hype, I figured there was no better way to start out other than to toss out a move that no one sees coming. However, it has a lot of merit. What if I proposed that the Bengals kicker for opening day isn’t even on the current roster?
Bear with me for a minute: It’s the 4th quarter. The Bengals are losing to the Steelers 21 to 20 and there’s 4 seconds left on the clock. The Bengals have possession and need a 45 yard field goal for the win. Out runs Randy Bullock to make the kick to beat the long-hated Steelers. Well, we have all seen this script before and we will know how it will play out. Chances are Bengal fans aren’t going home happy that day. Now, that’s not really a shot at Randy Bullock (although he is 0/1 on game-winning field goals as a Bengal), but that is just how things seem to go whenever we play that black and yellow team in Pennsylvania.
Randy Bullock has done nothing to lose the job based on performance. He was 18 for 20 last season on field goals, and 31 for 33 on extra points. When evaluating those numbers, there’s not much wrong with them. So while he has done nothing to lose the job, has he done enough for the Bengals to trust him when it matters most? Is he the guy you want kicking it when a game or season is on the line?
To me there are two type of kickers you would want to have. You want to have a kicker who you can trust in the big moments, or a kicker who is a weapon. The best kickers are both, such as Justin Tucker of the Ravens. He is a weapon with his huge leg, but he’s also reliable. A kicker the Bengals cut last year, Jake Elliott, may have not been reliable at that moment, but he was a weapon. Meaning, while he may miss a few early in his career that he should make, he can also make those game changing kicks from far away that gets points on the board to help win the game.
This is what Jake Elliott did last year for the Eagles. Last year, the Bengals were still the same old Bengals and went with what was comfortable, rather than take a risk on someone who may bring another element to the team. The Eagles took a chance on him and it paid off. Elliot nailed a game-winning 61-yard field goal during the seaosn for Philadelphia, and he now has a Super Bowl ring to show for it.
With how the Bengals have approached this offseason, it seems like the Bengals are switching from going with what they are comfortable with to going with guys who have the potential to bring another element to the team. A prime example of this new attitude is cutting LaFell in favor of the young wide receivers on this team.
So if the Bengals’ kicker is not on the roster, who will it be? Back in 2003, the Bengals had Neil Rackers throughout preseason coming off his first good year in the NFL. Yet, the week of their opening game, they cut Rackers and signed Shayne Graham who had just lost a kicking competition with the Saints. That moved worked out very well for the Bengals, and Graham had a nice run with the Bengals.
I wouldn’t be surprised if we see something similar happen this season. I believe the Bengals like Bullock, but might not fully trust him. I feel like the Bengals are in a true win-now mode, and the last thing they want to do is have kicker problems when the game is on the line.
A place to keep an eye out on is the kicking competition in Minnesota. Minnesota has a veteran kicker, with a strong leg, in Kai Forbath, and they drafted a rookie kicker with a strong leg in the 5th round (sound familiar?) named Daniel Carlson. If Forbath loses the job, he can be the reliable kicker the Bengals need. He made several clutch field goals in the divisional round last year again New Orleans.
I’ll state again, Randy Bullock has done nothing to lose the job based off of stats. I truly like Bullock and I would be perfectly fine with him as the kicker. He definitely would be the safe choice because you know what you have with him. However, in this offseason, the Bengals have made moves that in the past they wouldn’t make to try to give themselves the best chance to win.
Don’t be surprised if the Bengals have one more un-Bengal-like move and try to get a kicker. They may possibly trust him more or view him more of as a weapon for this season. With the Mike Zimmer connection the place to keep an eye out on is in Minnesota. There may just be one more of these moves on the way!