Off season game plan—Cincinnati Bengals

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Off season game plan—Cincinnati Bengals

By Bill Smith

The good news for Bengal fans is that there is always hope for the future. The bad news is that the Bengals are not the best team in Ohio and may not be the best team in Cincinnati. The problem is not the Coach. Marvin Lewis is more than capable of taking a somewhat competitive team to success. The problem is that Cincy is not any where near somewhat competitive.

The joke around the NFL was the Bengals were going to be forced to go no-huddle because parole conditions for the players prevented them from being within 20 feet of another felon.

My Dad is the smartest guy I have ever known. One of the first lessons he taught me is that you never do business with a widow or an idiot son. Cincy sports fans have had personal experience with this problem with the Reds. Is the only solution to “Schott” (Marge became a verb after MLB forced her to sell) the Brown family and specifically Mikey Brown out of the league?

That might be the only ultimate solution. But there are some things that Mikey can do to help bring the Bengals into the 21st Century.

  1. Hire a legitimate experienced GM. Mikey, your dad knew football and was a great judge of talent. You are not. Bring in a real GM and leave the football side of the business to him and the coach.
  2. Get some blocking for your biggest asset QB Carson Palmer. He can be an outstanding QB and make up for a lot of defensive problems. He has to be protected. Thanks to one of the few good free agent signings in recent years, RB Cedric Benson, Palmer will have a running game. That will help. But Mikey, you need 2 or 3 starters on the O line and one vet backup.
  3. Don’t let really good players go to free agency. If you really can’t afford to resign quality players, trade them with a year left on their contracts. There are teams out there that will sign quality players to extensions or new deals. Besides, the players would probably thank you for allowing them out of the loony bin known as the Bengal locker room a year early. You did it again with WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh. You didn’t get him an extension and now he is an unrestricted free agent. Put the franchise tag on him and do a trade if you’re too cheap to pay him what he is worth on the open market.
  4. Mikey, you’re going to have to learn to control your temper. Cutting one of your best O Linemen last year was not only bad football it was stupid. When OT Stacy Andrews was hurt it exposed you to be the dolt you are. You have to get something in return for the few assets you have.
  5. Try not to cut the legs out from under your head coach. You did that when you brought Chris Henry back after Coach Lewis publicly said that Henry would not be brought back under any conditions. You can’t do that and expect your coaching staff to have any credibility with the players.
  6. When someone offers you the sun, moon and several stars for a player, take the deal. You could have gotten a couple of first round choices from Washington for WR Chad Johnson, or whatever his name is today. Now you have a head case that doesn’t want to be there whining to the media. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING MIKEY? Or maybe a better question is WERE YOU THINKING AT ALL MIKEY?
  7. Consider drafting guys that don’t have a criminal record. You have more than enough bad actors in your locker room. If you ever expect to lead the team to success, you have to do a better job of weeding out the troublemakers.

Now there are many needs on the team. A couple of extra draft choices for WR TJH or WR Chad Johnson would help a lot.

  1. Fill in the trouble spots on the O Line. C Eric Ghiaciuc gets tossed around like a rag doll. RG Bobby Williams is 32 and is not getting better as he ages. The Bagels (sorry, I just can’t help myself) need to upgrade both positions. The Andrews injury at OT is another major concern. They also need a couple of young backups they can develop. One of these new guys should be a vet and the other a rookie.
  2. If WR TJH is traded or allowed to leave via free agency, the Bagels should find a vet free agent WR to fill that spot. There is also the issue of Chad Johnson. He needs to be traded or get therapy. If he gets his head on at all, he can help the team. WR Andre Caldwell is coming along but is not ready to be a #2 or #3 receiver.
  3. The D played better the last few games of the season. However, they did play teams over that stretch that were struggling offensively. Injuries wiped out a good percentage of their linebacker crew. All the walking wounded should be back and the fill-ins that played got valuable experience. They still could use another OLB with speed.
  4. The D line needs work. Given the team got only 17 sacks last year, it needs a better pass rush. DT John Thornton is a workman but at 32 wears down quickly. Given his salary cap number, there is a good chance he will be elsewhere next season. DE Robert Geathers, DT Peko, and DE Odom are just ok but could get better because they are in their 20’s. Beyond DE Frosty Rucker there is no depth and it must be upgraded.
  5. The D backfield can survive another year without too much tinkering. Given the other needs, this will be a low priority.

Given the draft history of the Bagels, it is difficult to imagine they will pick players that can develop into stars. They will pick 6th, so they should have a shot at 2 quality players with their first couple of choices. The question is can they choose wisely.

That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.

Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He is a senior writer for and edits fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and edits .


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