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  1. Think we got our answers on Green yesterday. Both injured (chronic groin issue) and has lost his connection to the game. It's time to let him move on... by trade to whatever team is willing to give up a decent pick. Waiting for him to go UFA in 2021 gives us a Comp pick in 2022 (if the UFA signing differential dictates), but what will that be... figure he might get a one-year from someone for $5-6 mil maybe? That's prob a 2022 5th Rd Comp. Better to get a 4th maybe this year and get rid of 12/17ths of his $18 mil cap hit... $12 mil back for cap is a win.. or even half that if we need to pay some of his contract to whoever takes a flyer.... figure Vegas, TN, NE, Phi, NO, or Sea might be teams willing to take a look... cap will be the biggest issue as few teams have $10 mil left to spend on a WR. John Ross is also a guy who we should consider letting go now if there are any takers. However, the Bengals FO will likely not make such a move which will (and should) be seen as already throwing in the towel on this season. But let's face it: when you're 1-3-1 with the other three in your division 4-0, 4-1, and 4-1, your DL decimated for the season, and your OL dysfunctional five years running ... well, it doesn't take a genius to conclude that hope is no more than a city in Arkansas.
  2. Sticking with the column, I don't see the need to repeat over and over the many failings of this team. This week I'll go to the top and bottom characteristics of this organization as it stands at present. But first, a couple of notes on the game: * The Bengals played a real team on Sunday and showed what the have: not much. No real strong points, no heart, no strategy. * I'm not too sure anymore if there is light at the end of this tunnel. * What Marv Lewis accomplished in Cincinnati is a miracle. I'm not advocating his gameday skills but am advocating his organizational skills given the broken Front Office that has run this team for 3 decades. The strengths of the current team: * Good RB in Mixon * Hope in future of Joe Burrow * A nice trio of younger WRs * A pair of young LBs who are giving great effort * A nice set of DBs who have been consistent every week this season * A great STs coach and consistent unit that has limited giving up Big Plays Weaknesses: * Ownership/Coaching staff: from Taylor on down, there just isn't a good sense of rhythm or balance. The planning for the season was terrible. The OL is what Peter King today called the single worst unit in the league (other than the whole NY Jets team). The DL was pushed by injury and lack of experience to play the healthy way too many snaps, and now the biggest investment (Reader) joins the ranks of the fallen. Taylor has got to go. At a 21 game career record of 3-17-1, he's below Dave Shula type numbers. Further, he has no presence and, it appears, has lost a number of vets in the locker room including Green & Dunlap. Mike Brown has again made a bad hiring decision. Further, he has allowed this young coach to select a group of positional coaches that mostly aren't getting it done. He has allowed his de facto GM to offer up really bad draft decisions for 5 or so years. And now he is allowing a deju vu situation in which bad OL personnel decisions threaten to ruin the development of a franchise QB. * Offense: The cap investment in A.J. Green looks like it will be a total bust. Not sure what happened to Green's groin, but some are saying that he was mouthing "just trade me" on the bench yesterday while he could be seen sitting the rest of the 2nd half and ignoring the game. Ross is also a total loss. Not sure what's going on there with him missing two practices last week due to "sickness" after being inactivated the prior two games. I think it's another player defection. The team also inactivates its #3 RB (Williams) every week instead of getting him some game experience in case Mixon goes down (which behind this OL he will inevitably do). We hear nothing from this team's Offensive Coordinator. Play calling is leaving the team consistently in 2nd and 3rd and longer situations. The OL might be worse than last year's squad. Redmond's performance fell back to earth yesterday with penalties, pressures, and lack of push up in front. Burrow is going to get killed... at 22 sacks in 5 games, he's on course to get sacked 70 times if he lasts the season. * Defense: The team played a decent game once Baltimore got up 17-0 early. They still gave up three long runs and 6.5+ yards per carry. The allowed Raven TE Mark Andrews, who is a damn good player, to dominate the game when it mattered in the early going before tightening up on him. But they did a very nice job on a wet, slippery field containing Lamar Jackson with a really a nice effort by the DBs. So this sounds like almost a strength until you look at the DT situation where Daniels and Reader are on IR joining Wren and Opted-Out Tupou, where highly paid Geno Atkins was barely recognizable in his first game back, where the team is now starting journeyman Chris Covington, and where the team is playing players who aren't even good enough to be on most other teams' Practice Squads. Further, the DE end production is stagnant with Dunlap disgruntled, Lawson unable to finish on his pressures, and Hubbard apparently injured as well. The DL was billed as the strength of the team (which shows what the marketers don't know), and now it almost looks like this area is in need of a major overhaul. If you can't evoke a draw in the trenches, you are not going to win very many games. Five games into the season, I am beginning to lose interest. I am worn down by the inability to really do game day in a manner that lets off some stress and makes the Bengals bearable (with a few beers and some laughs from friends). I am worn down from the year-to-year cycle of the Bengals talking about how they will compete while dismissing the rest of the league's analysts ranking them in the bottom 3-4 teams.. and then having the analysts' opinions emerge to be correct. I am worn down by watching the young players come in with hope and then having that energy being beaten out of them over the course of a season or two. Just look at the faces: Burrow, Mixon, Green, Ross (if you could even see him), Jonah Williams, Dunlap. The 27-3 beatdown by the Ravens was worse than the score indicated. They staved off a shutout with a cheap FG in the last minute of the game. The effort didn't seem to be there indicating that the coach has lost something more from what already appeared to be a limited motivational presence. Giving out 25 or so game balls for a cheap home win over an equally bad Jacksonville team the weak prior did not elevate the team... it was more like your Knothole coach fulfilling his promise for ice cream after the game with a spoonful from a half gallon of UDF for each of 15 kids. I'd say it... the team needs a total coaching rebuild, a near total re-do on both lines, a purging of the salary cap to rid the aging guys who are essentially done... but it has already been said over and over for three decades under Mike Brown. So I guess what is left is to stop for this season. It's time to stop investing so much time, and hope, and energy into following the team for the rest of 2020 for me because I have so many other things to do with that time and because, sadly, this hapless organization is about as low as it has been since Carson Palmer folded up shop. There will be some good days... probably to follow. I'll check the scores.. maybe watch a bit. But I just don't see the point in putting out the analysis and saying (mostly) the same things every week when the people in charge can't or won't even look in the mirror. But before I hang it up, one last note of what I'd do right now to/for this organizations: * Immediately fire Zac Taylor. He has no overt leadership skill, sucks at play-calling, has no connection to the Defense, and hasn't been able to win games. * For the rest of the season I would have Simmons be the head coach and see whether I think he can continue in that role in 2021. I think we're mostly stuck with the position coaches for the rest of 2020, but we probably need new OL and DL coaches next season as well as a new OC. I might stick with Anarumo simply because he seems to be improving over time. * Immediately, if possible, trade A.J. Green and John Ross. Both are gone at the end of 2020, and the team is going nowhere. Plus, they have both apparently become locker room detriments. * Be on the lookout to acquire an upgrade at either RG or RT who will be around for 2021. * Adjust play calling so that Burrow does not take so much beating. This means short dropbacks, roll outs, more running plays. Losing in 2020 but keeping Burrow healthy and not shell-shocked should be the offensive focus since we know that we're going to lose these two vet WRs and that the OL is terrible. Lastly, a big thanks to the site's members who read and make comments. I apologize for shutting down the weekly posts, but everyone has a breaking point. Big kudos to INdy who has been a good friend over the past several years. You have my contacts, and we can chat informally moving forward.
  3. Hey INdy ..... good to hear from ya. Yes, this is some of the great weather that I remembered from my many years in the Cincy area/region... love early October when you can work outside, not get too hot, and not freeze. Nights are nice and usually not too cold. I have lived mostly in Florida since 1995 (don't let the W TX moniker fool ya.... did stints there and in NW GA for 2-3 years each as well) and am finding it increasingly more difficult to do yard work as I move farther and farther into the Old Fart Zone. I'll hit back at some of your thoughts/comments: * Mixon: we can see from the Jax game what we are wasting in all the other games when we don't get Mixon the ball in space enough. He is just an amazing athlete who moves like a RB who is much smaller than the 240-or-so that Joe carries. And let me say one other thing about Mixon... I want to give this guy kudos for his on and off-field demeanor. He made a mistake as a Freshman in college at OK, and many people gave up on him. To his credit, he focused on restitution to the person he hurt and to his own reputation. This story, in contrast to many other incoming ones of similar background for this franchise, has worked out for Mike Brown and the Bengals. And in this climate of national concern and uprise, it is super refreshing to see the example that Joe Mixon has set in managing complex social issues in a positive manner. Off my soapbox now on that one... just very happy for Mixon to see a young athlete making great choices and overcoming odds to have a successful career. * TEs: with Burrow, I think we can get more out of a lower caliber type TE coming into the franchise; any pro caliber TE can catch and run to a decent degree, but the really great ones make average QBs look superb; in contrast, a really great QB (like Rodgers, Mahomes, Wilson, and how we hope Burrow will become) can take average receivers and make them very productive. So this is what I keep saying over and over about everyone else besides Sample and Carter... find a young guy with decent athleticism for a low cost... heck, find two and another for the PS (e.g., maybe Wilcox is such a player?) to utilize as passing situation receivers. You know these guys are going to get hurt, on the average, over a season because the NFL TE takes some of the worst beatings (along with the Safeties) of any player on the field. But you don't wrap up a lot of cap into guys who statistically are going to spend 30-40% of their careers on the injured lists. One thing here... Cethan Carter is drawing early wide league attention for his STs play and needs to be kept in the longer term discussion especially if he can make 1-2 catches a game like the one he hauled in vs. Jax. If you prorate those catch numbers and his STs play, you have a guy with maybe 20 catches and 10+ STs tackles on 400+ STs snaps over a season. We paid him the $2.13 RFA contract to retain him, and I'd be thinking about a 3-for-$ 10 mil deal for him in the off-season if he stays healthy and continues to produce (especially with our TE numbers down). Another last thing: was watching a lot of the analysis of individual plays on CJ and saw the work that Sample is doing in the run game.... very damn impressive even tho some will harp on him missing an iso block here and there on a DE etc. If Sample caught those two passes on Sunday, we'd be having a total different conversation right now about him and his progress.... BUT... if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle... hope that didn't offend... I always found that comment, albeit a bit graphic and maybe now not as PC as society once held, to shoot down a lot of “IF” type scenarios that aren't relevant unless they truly occur. * WR: sad to see A.J. where he's at but also inevitable. While the Falcons paid $22 mil per year (95% guaranteed) for THREE years to Julio Jones (and are having similar health and production issues with him now), the Bengals refrained. 32 years old, while a great age for many, is pretty old for most NFL players who aren't playing QB, P, or K. Green didn't get on the field for so long that, I fear, his physical capabilities fell without us being able to appreciate his final "golden" playing years. If he's just not in good enough shape, well, then that's his own fault. Jerry Rice is the guy you think about when it comes to a WR who kept his body in immaculate shape and prolonged his career into his 40's. Green, perhaps, hasn't committed to that type of training? Or maybe he just isn't aging as well as Rice, who is the exception rather than the rule in this area? A.J. has 12 more games to show that he can still play. I'm starting to think that he might have to accept a Larry Fitzgerald type role (and salary) to keep playing in this league when you consider that the cap will almost certainly drop in 2021. So Green could return on a one-year, maybe $8-10 mil deal? Don't scoff.... who else is going to pay that much to a guy who now (without a dramatic change) hasn't produced up to par in three seasons and will be 33 years old to start the 2021 season? One thing here.. reminiscing... Cris Collinsworth's final years kinda went this same way. Collinsworth's last season was the 1988-89 Super Bowl year. His catches went from 60-something a year for 6 seasons to 30-something and then 10-something over those last two years. He came to camp in 1989 and then retired when it appeared he'd probably be cut. That all hit Collinsworth after 8 seasons. Green has played 9 officially (when counting the past 1.5 years of being mostly in IR condition). Collinsworth still made a few good plays that last season, but he no longer could get separation and control the field. And maybe that's where Green is now? Death, after all, comes even to the Archibishop! Also sad (but predictable) to see is John Ross again struggling despite all of Hobson's typical pre-season hype. Although difficult to criticize, Ross' decision to return to LA to take care of his child and the child's mom after they caught COVID in mid-August may have been his death knell. At a time when he reportedly was doing well and showing new promise, he left and apparently lost the Mojo he was developing with Burrow. Ross has always been an enigma... a super fast and quick guy who is injury prone; a guy who flashes some very athletic plays (I'm thinking the Seattle away opener last year and the catch at Baltimore in 2018, and his catch and run TD late in the SF game last season) but then drops the most mundane pass in a critical situation or cuts off his pattern leading to a wasted down or INT. Taylor shutting Ross down the past two weeks, I think, depicts a couple of things. First, Taylor had to decide right now whether he was going to value what Tate has been doing or what Ross might be able to do - Tate being signed through the 2021 year and Ross being a UFA next spring. Second, Taylor undoubtedly has issues with Ross just as Marvin Lewis did... there is something about Ross that we don't see in regard to his commitment, preparation, professionalism, work ethic, and/or output. Where Ross should be tearing things up with the occasional situations that ensue for a guy with his skill set, he's producing nothing (often with a high snap per game count). Third, there is one question about Burrow here that relates to the combo low outputs of both Green and Ross: is Burrow's longer game too weak and/or undeveloped right now to utilize these two WRs who have the best downfield weapons on the team? This last question is relevant when you see that Burrow is something like 1-for-22 in the deep passing chart right now, and you have to keep in the back of your mind that perhaps Burrow has Andy Dalton Syndrome when it comes to stretching the field? Oh yes, I hear the groans now. But frankly, Bengals fans, you gotta think about the real possibilities. Very few QBs have every part of their game in the top level of peers. Burrow excels in extending plays, pocket vision, finding all of his receivers. But we knew before the draft that he doesn't have a cannon arm like Mahomes, Josh Allen, or Matt Stafford. Will this be a continuing issue or is it a matter of simply getting him more pocket time to set up the longer routes? * OL: Agree on the Redmond assessment. We're at 2019 (deja vu all over again). Unbelievable. They make all of these roster adjustments and even cut Redmond as the OL9 on the roster in favor of a Dolphins cast-off only to find Redmond STARTING by week 4 (and outplaying to date all the other guys considered for or occupying the RG spot... which is a long list and doesn't necessarily mean that Redmond's play was anything better than average). My point in going over the whole OL roster again and again ... as well as the coaching staff ... is that the Bengals FO simply MUST do something ASAP in order to get this team the protection it needs for its future (Burrow) as well as to give it any hope of being a relatively competitive team on a weekly basis. I'll only mention one other thing... about Hart. My mental model of Hart now is that he is a LT without the ability to Pass Block well enough to play that spot. The Bengals now admit that they don't think he can play RG either because he doesn't have the drive blocking capability required. So by default he becomes a finesse RT who isn't much of a Run Blocker and sometimes is beaten off the edge in Pass Pro. He fares decently when he's going downfield and helping on movement plays where he gets someone in space, but he's definitely not the prototypically big, Art Shell type RT you'd like to anchor the running game for Joe Mixon and seal the speed rush to protect Joe Burrow. But he is what we have for 2020. And even if we draft a 1st Round RT, he may still be the better player to start 2021 (considering that we don't know the depth of the OT draft pool). We'd like to dump his final year and save the $5.9 mil for other cap uses tho. And you just never know what the Bengals are going to do on personnel matters even tho spring 2020 demonstrated that they might be coming out of the Dark Ages in their personnel management approaches. * DL: Not Nostradamus on Dunlap. Just looking at the roster, the 2021 cap, and the player's ages & productivity. Geno & Carlos are the last of the Fisher Price Kids... remember that line? Now they are the Fisher Price Old Farts. And they have two of the highest cap counts for 2021. If you're not getting 7-8 sacks and 15-20 pressures from Dunlap (basically 2 sacks or pressures per game), then he's not even close to worth the $11.25 mil you save by moving on from him. His run D has dwindled over the past few years from being a strength to being one of the worst in the league... to the point now that Carl Lawson's Run D is demonstrably better such that they're going with Lawson as the starter. So death comes (again) for the Archbishop here, and they are forecasting that they'll try to re-sign Lawson (certainly for less than $11.25 mil/year) and move on from Lawson if all remains the same moving forward. With Geno, we are starting to get an A.J. type feel. The guy struggled the last two seasons to get his game going after on-and-off injuries, did play well at times, but now is very highly paid to the point that you can't justify at least considering moving on from a $9.6 cap savings in 2021 UNLESS he shows up soon and demonstrates a different kind of Bengals DL production when combined with Reader. We already know what it's like these four games with minimal output from the remaining FPKs, so it's no big deal in my estimation to move on in 2021, plan for something different, and save $21 or so mil in cap for other uses (like getting Lawson and WJax back). But one last note: again Zac Taylor shows poor leadership and communication skills within his own locker room in how he handled Dunlap's demotion... maybe Dunlap dramatized, but the coach should call a vet player in these situations and let him know that we're going to start Lawson over you this week and see how things go with that. I just don't think Taylor is going to work out here in the long run as he doesn't fit into any profile niche for head coaches who have had ongoing success (e.g., "player's coach" like Pete Carroll; high discipline coach like Belichick; strategy coach like John Gruden; organizational coach like John Harbaugh or Mike Tomlin). * DBs: Although not the team's standard, I agree that you're best off extending Bates and WJax sooner rather than later. Bates won't be a UFA until 2022, so I can see them waiting until August next year to approach that situation... not that I disagree with your approach but rather just noting that the Bengals prefer to wait on these extensions until they are more sure the guy doesn't have a career changing injury during the interim. Call it cheap. Call it crafty. It's how Mike Brown has done it and will keep doing it until his golf cart is put into the shop for good. With WJax they might be waiting to get more clarity on what the cap might/will be in 2021 before they "overspend." I think they already overspent slightly with Mixon, but again they're rewarding a guy who has done it right (as pointed out above).... and that's how he (Mike Brown) ldo. * STs: Wondered if you'd see that Bullock note in the first post of this thread. I know I can't change your mind on the K, but I'll just throw this out there (in addition to those 1st quarter stats that show him in a very good OVERALL light)... the NFL K is similar to the QB in that you usually don't get perfect in all areas (e.g., FG %, FG max range, pressure kick efficiency, KO efficiency, KO average for starting opponent location, onside kick abilities, health over time, contract value). You put a team together to try to max the team with respect to cap and time. The Bengals have never been a team to upgrade to a flashier K in exchange for the stable value kicker. And one further, I really hold Coach Simmons in high regard... I think they screwed up by not naming him head coach instead of Taylor. I'm totally on board with how he manages STs as long as the unit continues to yield top 10 output. As Billy Bob says in Bad Santa, "He kid, they can't all be winners." Moving to the Huber discussion, you note when perusing P stats that he's slightly below average in yds/punt and net yds/punt simply because the younger P's are now getting in the 45-50 yds/punt range while Huber is in the 40-45 range. That said, Huber is very good kicking inside the 20 and has always been an above average directional P as well as a holder. So again, when you're looking at the STs package, you probably are happy with a top 10 unit (especially when your O and D have more recently been in the lower 10). What I think we're going to see this off-season is both Bullock and Huber getting about 2-year, $5 mil offers ($2.5 mil/year cap)... Huber is 35 and is winding down; Bullock is 31 and is not flashy. It will be a complicated off-season staying under a shrinking cap and trying to improve a team with a lot of holes. That said, it might be time for Clark Harris, who is 36, to think about retiring. However, he's a near vet min player (about $1.13 mil 2020 cap) and def should be retained (as long as he continues to be a flawless snapper and can reasonably cover punts) if he is willing to keep playing. I like your Indiana LS Dan Godsil but think you don't change a good thing for a marginal cost savings when your overall unit is a league leader. Overall at the 1st quarter mark of 2020, I'm a bit disappointed in the value return from high cap players like A.J. Green, Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, and Trae Waynes. These are 4 of our 5 top cap players and account for about $53 mil of the $198 2020 cap allowance (over 25%) with virtually no production. Throw in another $20 mil in cap for I-told-you-so player production from Ross, Price, SWilliams, and Hart, and you see that a good 40% of our 2020 cap has been arguably wasted. Some of these were decisions that couldn't be changed (e.g., Ross and Price with guaranteed contracts through their first 4 seasons). Some weren't going a different way (e.g., with Green, Dunlap, and Atkins, you had to let things play out). Waynes was just bad luck (so far, but who knows how things change once he's healthy and is added to the CB stable). But with SWilliams and Hart, you could have followed 90% of the locals' pleas to release them in March, saved $7 or so mil, combined that with XSF's $2.2 mil, and had $9 mil in cap to fortify a starting R OL spot. So despite the perceived gains we saw from FO roster building behavior we saw last spring, there were missed personnel gains that many other clubs (the successful ones) would have made at that time. Further, we might be 4-0 right now with a better RG or RT. I won't waste time naming players we could have tried to get (because many players still don't want to play in Cincinnati) but will just say that we failed to shore up the OL with moves that could be respected by more than a hopeful front office and a delusional OL coach. That all said, I guess that there is hope in Mudville as long as Burrow keeps playing well while still on his learning curve (i.e. portending future greatness), as long as Burrow is not maimed, and as long as there are reasonably low-hanging fruit to make this team better. Adding more catches at TE, a better R OL presence, and more reasonable DT play, this team can actually play with anyone in the league. Then you just need to have a coaching staff with a clue.
  4. Hey Windy City.... combined your two remarks above for response The total losses in the 1st Round since 2015 have basically capsized a franchise that claims to build by the draft. If you built your house with cement blocks that crumbled way too early, you might imagine a similar situation. Only William Jackson in 2016 has given anything back with Williams and Burrow, of course, trying to reverse that trend this season. Overall, the drafting in all rounds combined for this type of "build through the draft" mantra has been terrible and explains by itself why the franchise has sunk back to the cellar of the AFC North. And that doesn't even touch what appears to be shoddy coaching from a an under experienced staff. It's a lot easier to see what needs fixing once the season is going and the voids are visible. Our problem is getting decent evaluators working on these problems during the off-season and coming up with some real solutions before we even start practicing in the spring. But they are a stubborn group down at PBS and are going to eat what they kill when it comes to sticking with marginal players who were given long-term contracts (e.g., Price, Hart, Ogbuehi, Fisher).... which is why I predict that we'll be dealing with this problem again in 2021 when we'll likely be working with a reduced cap (from 2020) while also needing to think about other positional areas (e.g., DL: Lawson expiring; Dunlap/Atkins output declining well past their cap costs; LB: Evans and Bynes, the two most vet LBs, become UFAs; CB: WJax, Alexander, Sims, and T Brown all moving to UFA; WR: Green and Ross become UFAs; STs: all three specialists become UFAs). You look at the current starting five and must figure that they'll stick with the left side of Williams, Jordan, and Hopkins who collectively are getting average (or so) PFF marks while all being under contract for 2021. On the right side we have a bigger mess with below average PFF ratings. Hart, the RT, has a year left on his contract, while we don't have a bunch of experienced OT depth.... so you must guess that he stays on the roster EVEN IF we draft a RT who is capable of beating Hart out for the starter spot (in which case we'll still be dealing with rookie growing pains on the right side). And then there's the cursed RG spot that has been a $hitshow since Zeitler left as a UFA in 2016. We have started 3 and played 4 in the first four games of 2020 at RG. The XSF signing brought us a very average vet with a bad ankle who wasn't ready to play right away and now is back on IR-return with an early ankle aggravation. Not sure what Turner was thinking by putting a 6' 8" player (Fred Johnson) at OG where such height is usually a distinct impediment against opposing interior DL whose shorter height and tremendous lower body strength allow them to get under the tall man's pads (and center of gravity) and eliminate his inertial push. With Price we got all the usual Hobson propaganda in summer with notes how Price gained weight, looks like a new man etc. etc. When you see Hobson writing this stuff, be aware of a con job. Price has played about as badly as he has looked during his two plus years here... the rub tho is that Price, in 2021, will be in his 4th season with a guaranteed contract and the last quarter of his amortized bonus all on the cap... unless some other team will take him for some or all of the contract value. He's become virtually worthless here, so the question is whether he's worth keeping as OL9 (in 2021) or are we better off cutting him and taking the $3.7 million hit in dead cap? At this point from paragraph 2 above, we have a virtual 2021 OL of L OL starters JWilliams, Jordan, and Hopkins and question-marked, still-under-contract R OL failures in XSF, Price, Johnson, and Hart. To round out from what we're currently carrying on the 2020 rosters, we have rookie OT/OG Adeniji, UFA-to-be (and part of the R OL failure squad the past 2 plus seasons) Alex Redmond, two cast-offs from a really bad Miami Dolphin OL in OG Shaq Calhoun and OL Keaton Sutherland, and OT opt-out Prince. After the first three listed, I see the rest of these guys similarly to how I view the back of Fred Sanford's pickup truck. The problem, as I see it, is that the Front Office here will look to replace 1-2 guys from the list of the final 9 (XSF, Price, Johnson, Hart, Adeniji, Redmond, Calhoun, Sutherland, Prince) from which to find the last 6 roster OL INSTEAD of getting rid of 4-5 of them, bringing in 2-3 vets, and drafting two rookies). What I'd prefer to see is the team to do this with each of the latter 8 and the coaching staff: * Adeniji: continue to develop and consider whether he's a better fit to backup at LT/LG or can compete for a R Side starting spot (in which case he needs to add off-season bulk) * Price: try to trade him, include offers to pay for half of his salary for someone else to take him, or cut him before spring if there are no takers at a dead cap hit of $3.7 mil * Hart: cut him when the season is over to save $5.9 mil in 2021 cap; Johnson & Prince: compete in camp for roster spots * XSF: hopefully he gets back later this season to show what he can do; I'd personally lean towards cutting him tho (because he's just another marginal OL) with a $2.6 mil savings in cap * Redmond: have to let him go (as a UFA-to-be in 2021) if he won't sign for the vet min; he's just not that good (bad health history; prone to mistakes; relatively poor pass blocker) even tho he's far better than the three prior misfits who played RG thus far in 2020 * Johnson, Calhoun, Sutherland, Prince: low-priced guys, let them compete for bubble and/or PS spots along with off-season FA and draft pick acquisitions * Coach Turner: find a new OL coach who can better evaluate talent, communicate honestly, and come up with scheme adjustments in real time These adjustments would have us go into spring camp with 4 probable roster guys (Williams, Jordan, Hopkins, Adeniji), 4 guys competing for spots (Johnson, Calhoun, Sutherland, Prince), and 4 departing failed vets (Price, Hart, XSF, Redmond) with a total cap savings of $4.8 million (and more if we can get someone to trade for Price while taking on part of his 2021 contract). Use the $4.8 million in a retracted cap year to find a player who can be a stopgap (or better) RG. As an alternative (if XSF returns and plays up to that "stopgap or better" level), retain XSF at the cost of $2.6 million. Draft two more OL: a RT in 1st, and the best guy you can get somewhere in the 4th to 6th. The RG/RT spots are up-for-grabs from the get-go. RT competitors include Johnson, Prince, and the draft pick. RG competitors include the new FA vet (or XSF), Calhoun, Sutherland, Adeniji, and the later draft pick. The main thing from this, tho, is that you purge the roster of players and coaches who have losing mindsets and failing records as NFL OL. For those who want to go one better and sign a top end RG in UFA, good luck on that with the declining 2021 cap. This could be possible, however, if the Front Office decides to drop either Atkins or Dunlap while using the cap savings for the new RG. The things to consider here are all of the other expiring vet contracts and how much we also need to retain these players in comparison to getting a very costly RG upgrade. Our already marginal pass rush will not be the same without Lawson. Our CB play will not be nearly as good without WJax. Our two speed WRs will be gone without AJ and Ross. We are depleted at TE. Two vet LBs (of our current roster of 6) are UFAs. All three specialists are UFAs (so we'll prob need to bring back two at least to maintain continuity on what has become the team's most consistent unit). One other thing to remember is that Joe Burrow can probably make due with an OL having 4 very consistent players and one marginal player. We're going to need consistent play at RG then if we plan to start a rookie at RT.. or vice versa. Ultimately, however, this hole mess is something the Front Office needs to solve first. Get enough players; get a decent coach; protect Joe Burrow before you lose the thing that gives this franchise some hope moving into the future.
  5. Good thoughts. Have to give some ground to Turner/Hart that he looks/plays better when you remove the turnstile next door. Yet, he’s still lower level average at best, and we need better in the long run. I think of Whit to some degree when I see Williams. Whit’s a bigger guy but similarly was felt to be too slow to play LT in the NFL. Williams is 4 games into his career and, like Burrow, is playing at the highest level of anyone on the O. And I agree on your notes of Redmond and Jordan. From PFF standpoint, Jordan is coming in at average which is good for an unheralded draft pick in the mid rounds. Redmond is an upgrade over two very bad prior RGs in Johnson (too tall at 6’ 8”) and Price (too pathetic to play anything in the NFL).
  6. Last Sunday's game at PBS demonstrated a few things to us. It was certainly a tale of two halves - the 1st after which the visiting Jags led 13-10; the latter in which the Bengals finally seemed to have some consistent success on O. I like to frame the games in terms of the roster ... what he have, what we need to think about moving forward, what we might expect. This game definitely added more information in these respects. Offense: In general, the O started clicking after halftime as the team finally found the running game. For perspective, it's important to understand that in yards/game and YPC Jax is 27th and 16th in the league, respectively. For comparison, the Bengals currently stand 28th and 24th in the league. Essentially, Jax, which has lost a ton of top end DL in the offseason (measured in both weight and talent), is about as bad now on the DL as the Bengals when it comes to run D. Further, their 4 total team sacks (tied for 31st) is half of our 8, which incidentally haven't been that impressive. And Jax points allowed per game (23rd) is worse than ours (16th). So, yes, enjoy the win and the success. But also, be wary of who you are beating before drawing too many long-term conclusions. QB: No complaints here. Burrow's total stats at 4 games 116-177 (65.5%), 1121 yards (6.3 YPA, 280.3 yds/game), 6 TD/2 INT (1.50 per game & 0.50 per game), 15 sacks (3.75 per game), 89.7 passer rating compare favorably to Andy Dalton's 2011-2019 Bengals' Regular Season stats [133 games, 2757-4449 (62.0%), 31,594 yards (7.1 YPA, 279.6 yds/game), 204 TD/118 INT (1.53 & 0.89 per game), 278 sacks (2.09 per game), 87.6 passer rating], especially when considering that Burrow is being compared to a 9-year vet after only his first 4 games following no pre-season games and with an A.J. Green who so far appears to be a shell of the former player who largely made Dalton who he was. The stats aren't meant to go backwards, so I hope readers don't take them that way. They are meant to demonstrate that our rookie QB has replaced the prior vet with no statistical step-off AND certainly with an upgrade in performance in plays where the pocket has broken down. Lastly, Burrow (if he isn't maimed) is going to get a whole lot better. Behind Burrow, we have Finley about whom we really don't know much except that he has never stood out when the bullets are live. RB: It was nice to see that Joe Mixon is still amazing when he gets even the smallest amount of help. We got him into space, and he made defenders look stupid. For those who are ready to ditch Gio, I think the Jax game showed what he can still do. I def do not favor cutting Gio in 2021 to save $4.1 million unless things take a dramatic turn downwards for the rest of 2020. TE: I have been harping on the lack of speed at TE, but Burrow did manage to use Sample and Carter for two nice extended gains. Sample showed, however, why he's currently not on track to be a Jason Witten. In one narrow portion of the game Sample turned a TD into an INT and then alligator armed a TD pass. His blocking improved, but I'm still not seeing 2nd Round pick quality out of him. Some are arguing that we should spend $10 million and get an upper tier TE. But I really like the concept of finding athletic mid-round TEs who can run and catch, using them in passing downs, and understanding that these guys are going to get hurt. That gets you better targets on the field without wasting a ton of cap money when the inevitable injury ensues. Look, I'm not a big Schreck fan. But he's the kind of later round pick who can fill the TE void for a few years at low cost IF you can get the positioning and catches out of him... while Sample and Carter can provide the better blocking and STs play. Joe Burrow will find the TE if the TE can run and catch. That's what I got out of the Jax game. We just don't have much run and catch on our TE roster right now and have wasted a lot of money in the past 10 years on such players who spend a lot of time on the IR list. WR: Let's talk about what is good. Boyd continues to amaze... great footwork, body position, hands. He just gets it done. Higgins is looking good and seems to be improving every week. Tate is consistent and is good for 3-4 tough catches a game. If we keep this trio together a few years, Burrow will have a good head start. We also know that Mike Thomas is a steady guy and that Erickson has good hands in a pinch. So let's look at the disappointments. Not sure what's going on with A.J., but I saw a few things that just didn't look right from him. Early in the game he broke loose, and Burrow led him to the sidelines and away from the Safety. But he didn't run the route right instead going straight downfield and having Burrow's throw land way outside of him as he ended up with the Safety in his face. It seems to me that Green has lost both a step and focus. I'm thinking that if he can't get things turned around in the next 4 games that his time here will become increasingly less likely (as will his argument that he deserves Julio Jones type money at $22 mil per season). Finally, there is Ross. What a mess! is all that I can say. Is it coaching? Is it just a lack of "what it takes?" Not sure but it is crazy to see the Jerome Simpson 2.0 thing going down here. OL: Let's be happy with the Jax results (passing: 1 sack for 0 yds in 37 dropbacks; rushing: 34-205-6.0 YPC). But still we need to know that beating up on a deplete Jax DL is not going to translate over well to Balt, Pitt, and Cle. What looked better was Redmond's drive blocking (despite his typical penalties). The odd thought here now is why Redmond had to be cut and sit on the street two games before he returned via the PS and ended up being the 4th starter at RG in 4 games? So before we start going over all the inadequacies of this OL, let's start with the OL coach, OC, and Head Coach ... none who seem to me to know WTF they're doing after 20 games. OK, I'll give Turner a little confirmation that Hart looked better when his RG wasn't letting DL run by his face every other play. On the bright side, Jonah Williams is really improving every game, and Hopkins (despite the holding call that negated a nice Boyd TD catch) continues to play solidly. What is likely to occur with this team and this OL over the next 6-7 months? This is the part that is going to hurt... really admitting how the Bengals Front Office will handle this weakest of weak spots. All five of the current starters will be deemed important and will return as will XSF (because he signed a 3-year deal and "didn't get a chance" in 2020). Adeniji will be back as will, most likely, Fred Johnson. That's 8 players on a 9-man OL, and these guys aren't (and will not become in an off-season) very impressive. That last spot will be, hopefully, a rookie 1st Rd RT. The bubble scrum might include Price (who does have a guaranteed contract and thus gives no cap relief if cut.... I was wrong before on this one), Sutherland, Prince, and Calhoun. Redmond is the only player on this list who would need to be re-signed as a UFA. But bottom line, I suspect, is that the FO will go yet another season keeping the same general group of OL and the same coaches. We can get better by mid-season 2021 if we draft a rookie RT who picks up the game quickly. I guess what I'm getting to here is that the immediate future here on the OL (under the current methods of managing the roster and coaching) does not look favorable irrespective of the relatively good game we had vs. Jax. DL: We got 3 sacks and only allowed 20-89 (4.5 YPC) rushing. That's better than what we allowed in the prior 3 games, so let's trend this game and see how we feel after watching the Baltimore game next Sunday. Although it seemed the season was already over, we're hearing now that Atkins will be ready to play this week. So let's see how Reader and Atkins look side-by-side, whether Lawson can stay healthy and keep generating pressure, and whether Dunlap and Hubbard can do their parts in balanced run and pass support. The jury is out, and decisions on personnel for 2021 (i.e., Atkins & Dunlap) are probably in the balance. Other notes worth making on the DL: Kareem looks like he might be a decent player; Andrew Brown is a good DL who can play multiple positions adequately; we were lucky we got Covington late in camp (even tho he is very average). LB: Kudos to Evans. I don't think he's improved much, but you gotta respect that he was ready to play last Sunday when he got his chance. Not sure whether anyone else noticed, but it looked like Pratt struggled on Sunday. LBs are covering TEs and RBs a lot better this year. ADG looked really slow in pursuit of Chris Conley on one play, but maybe he deserves some credit for the improved coverage in middle zones (along with Bates and Bell)? What I can say, tho, is that we need to keep working to improve our LB personnel. We're no longer worst in the league here, but we can't expect all four draft picks the last two years are going to pan out. Bynes and Evans are UFAs next spring, so I'd like to see us pick another LB in the 2021 draft if we decide not to re-sign both of these guys. DB: I like how they're playing. Bates and Bell look really good together. The CBs have been doing decently especially given the average (at best) pass rush and the early losses of Waynes, Alexander, and Sims. I think the off-season focus here needs to be getting WJax back along with either Alexander or Sims. STs: INdy... c'mon man. Give Bullard/Bullock a break. At 88% Touchback on Kickoff efficiency, he's 2nd in the league. At 12-13 in FGs, he's first. Yes, it was a troubling miss, but I like the guy and what he's done as an efficient kicker here. It will be interesting to see how the specialists are managed this off-season when all will be up for UFA. That's it for now. Celebrate the Jax win. Overall, you gotta like how Burrow is growing while remaining concerned about some of the hits he's taking as either his learning curve of what not to do or as the total failure of the OL. We're hoping that Redmond's return as a better drive blocker is the thing the OL needed (and we're wondering why the coaching staff didn't know this when they cut Redmond in favor of Calhoun). We hope no more DTs are injured and that Atkins returns with some quality play. And we're curious to see how the Bengals will handle Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore O that has destroyed several teams so far this season.
  7. 1) Difficult to argue against this. For this reason, tho, we should be getting TWilliams snaps right now (and we aren't). One other thing... I usually discuss my ideas around the realm of what the Bengals FO is likely to do. I think they're likely to retain Gio... could be wrong but smells like something Mike Brown would insist upon (because $4.1 mil cap savings will be weighed against his family traditions). 2) Agreed that we need one (probably 2) TEs who are better receivers than Sample. Sample will still be the starter as a guy who can block and hit the shorter routes. I can promise they won't spend $10 mil on a TE. I disagree with those who say that we won't use a TE with Taylor because Burrow was already effective doing it this season before Uzomah went down. Uzomah may be back for 2021... players have been doing a lot better after Achilles repairs more recently. But he's still not worth $6 mil in cap... and cutting him saves $5.25 mil. My concept here is to simply find two TEs who are decent route runners and can do 4.65 or better 40's to replace Uzomah and Cethan Carter (if Carter won't return on a minimal raise deal from his current $2.13 mil contract). I don't think we need to spend a lot on a TE but still can have personnel who Burrow can make better based on their specific traits and Burrow's know-how. 3) If we spent $22 mil on these two positions, we'd be out of cap.. and here's why... see answer 6) 4) Agreed totally except that maybe Atkins/Dunlap are off the bubble on the wrong side.... either would have to rack up some real numbers and make a difference in games moving forward to deserve the $$ they have in 2021. And see 6) again.... 5) Irrespective of Price's guaranteed contract, dropping / trading him saves $2.1 million in cap... so you can bet here and now that he's a favorite to be elsewhere (since he's no good at center and is pretty bad at RG). 6) The big message... drum roll. Bengals quoted (per Spotract) to be at $151 mil in cap for 2021. However.... the league is estimating/warning that the cap will drop next year ... maybe as low as $175 mil ... to reflect the losses due to COVID in 2020. If that's the case, we're $24 mil under the cap. Remember that we WILL retain about $15 mil for rookie contracts and in-season signings due to injuries. So that gives us $9 mil before we make any cuts or signings. Dropping Geno and Dunlap returns about $22 mil. Gio and Uzomah's releases would give back $9.3 mil. Let's say that we re-sign Lawson and WJax... Lawson would probably get $6-7 mil per year, I suspect. WJax is going to get $9-10 mil... maybe more... but let's say $10. So that's $16.5 mil right there... you drop Geno/Dunlap to retain Lawson/WJax and have $5.5 mil to show for it. Pair that with the $9.3 mil for Gio/Uzomah and the $9 mil in cap noted originally, and you have about $24 mil to fix your problems outside of the draft. What are the problems? We will lack a speed WR, a RG/RT combo, a #2 RB, 2-3 TEs, a pair of DL, a pair of LBs (Bynes and Evans will be UFAs), 2-3 CBs (Alexander, Sims, and TBrown are all also UFAs), and all 3 STs specialists. Are we expecting to compete for the playoffs in 2021? If so, nobody you draft at these positions is going to make a playoff berth more likely at least for the first half of the season.... so you need to re-sign or pick up outside UFAs for a good portion of your losses.... which will eat away at your available $24 mil. And God forbid if the FO decides that any or all of the cuts (Gio, Uzomah, Geno, Dunlap) or non-resignings (Green, Ross, Bynes, Evans etc.) are viewed differently. I think some may have gotten the wrong idea from the UFA splurge this past spring. I'd be shocked to see us not revert back to the old "do nothing substantial in UFA" approach next season, especially if the cap is retracted.
  8. You do have to keep a few vets to maintain locker room stability, so I don’t advocate dropping Gio yet. Instead of a one-shot spending spree on Henry, I’d like to grab 2-3 guys who can all run well for TE 2-4 to add to Sample’s run-heavy abilities. Then you don’t end up with zilch when Hunter Henry goes down for a few (or more) games. This is what Pitt has done well at TE with Big Ben ... using multiple value, relatively athletic TEs to pressure D’s throughout the passing tree. Since Burrow is so good at moving through his reads, extending plays, and ball placement, it makes sense to open the field to maximize those strengths. Do that in higher quantity, medium quality instead of lower quantity, higher quality at a position where your players are highly likely to be injured at any given time. Save your big money investments for the players who are likely to stay on the field consistently.... like a new RG/RT combo; another pass rusher; and maybe a younger speed receiver.
  9. I think that’s where you draw a lot of enjoyment (re: loyalty and watching “our guys” get better over time). Nothing wrong with that except that loyalists tend to get their souls crushed these days. Of course if the cap is $15 mil more, then you adjust your approach. We have so many fires going tho and just don’t admit and deal with them the way winning franchises do. By the time we got a winning QB, out LBs and lines were depleted. Now the WRs are turning over. I think we need to retain a high level of DB play, allow our LBs to mature, and replace our aging, high dollar DL in the next go around. I agree that Lawson is a binge player (and has t been consistently healthy), but Dunlap is at the end of his usable life unfortunately (and also disappears at times). Lawson played well simply because Eagle LT is also at the end of his usable life. On the O side I prefer Nix’s idea of playing Adeniji and Johnson for a while on the right side. Do I think that will fare better? At first, No. Johnson is raw, and Adeniji is not the push type run blocker we need to fortify RG. But they might be better in Pass Pro pretty quickly than what we’ve used so far. And we just need to do something differently because this crap isn’t working. The TE area is a mess over losing one average player, and your roster should never be set up that way. My insistence in talking about Schreck isn’t to note that I think he’s a realistic answer but rather to note that he’s the only guy on the TE roster who has the ability to get downfield into medium routes in the passing tree - something we need to fully optimize and develop Burrow’s abilities. Sample has improved but will NEVER be a big option receiving TE (too slow; lacks footwork) and still is occasionally coming up zero in blocking (yes, Barnett beat him and made him look really bad with a very basic rush move). I’ll finish by mentioning Green and Ross. Green is the guy you want to emerge and play top level another 3-4 years as he claims he can do. But there’s only one Jerry Rice, and Green is not showing us elite skills so far. If it takes him 8-10 weeks to emerge from deep thaw, what’s the use when you’re spending almost 10% of your cap on him? With Ross, it’s the Bengal policy to keep waiting on early picks on basis of recovering sunk costs (which is a losing financial decision making policy) and thinking the egg will hatch any minute. He’s basically been a glorified Jerome Simpson (minus the megaweed). He was on the field with Burrow for about 100 snaps the first two games and has two catches for 17 yards (with two drops). He is the “fastest guy in the league” but fails to get separation? And drops half of what he is thrown. He’s just a guy who’s skills don’t pan out at the next level and is a total embarrassment to the front office that took him a pick after Patrick Mahomes and has spent 3 years trying to get him to focus, act like a professional, and show a consistent level of play ... none of which has ever emerged. He won’t be in this team in 2021, so I say to keep him in game-day inactive until a WR is injured. Overall, it’s a good move to keep the WRs on an even rotation, get them all opportunities, and let the future trio of Boyd, Higgins, and Tate continue to develop. I think this season is already in the tank. You won’t win consistently without the ability to win up front, and we’re doing very little of that on either side of the ball. Nonetheless, we can figure out a lot in the rest of a season that has just started including which players we need back, which positions need fortification, and which coaches we need to drop. It’s been a three decade recycling theme tho ... I guess we can be happy for a few years to say we have a decent QB... a lot better than losing every week with Opie Taylor at the helm.
  10. It is when the play caller is 2-16-1 for his career with the Total O in the lower quartile throughout. That's Hue Jackson territory.
  11. INdy, you are a loyal guy. I think Geno/Dunlap go if cap $175 mil because that leaves us about $24 mil right now while prob needed WJax, Lawson, and 1 other vet CB re-signed (while also saving money for FAs during season and rookie contracts.. about $15 mil). We can't do anything with $9 mil. Hart gives back about $6 mil; Price about $1 mil. Geno is $10 mil and Dunlap $12 mil. Drop all four and have $29 mil to spend (which still isn't much but will go farther with a contracting cap). If Geno or Dunlap play well, we might even get a pick for them. But we're not winning with this squad this year, and won't win next year with only $9 mil (or $16 mil if you dump only Price and Hart while still considering re-signing Green, Lawson, and/or WJax. Time to let this franchise grow up and move on. AJ at 34 ain't getting better. Nor is Geno or Dunlap. We retain these three, then we can hope to remain status quo until we make the hard decision.
  12. I think overall that we’re in a 5 game window (re:1st half of season) to see whether Taylor ever figures it out. I personally don’t think he will - he just doesn’t have the leadership chops. I liked one other reader’s idea about grabbing Zimmer.. but he just extended thru 2023, so that’s unlikely. Unfortunately, the Brown family’s rep is so bad that most coaches do not want to come here (as it’s viewed as a bad mark on their resume). Heck, they’re now putting their 20-something grand daughter out there as a decision maker (which, I don’t know about you, but admittedly was a real odd feeling for me). One other thing that I have missed noting: WTF is the deal with OC Brian Callahan? Does he do anything? You never hear a peep out of the guy, and Taylor calls the plays. He’s kinda the Barney Rubble of the Offensive coaches.
  13. The telling comment of post game was Taylor’s Eureka moment in saying we need to block better. Took him until now to realize that? Wow!
  14. Lack of talent + $hitty OL coaching = Bengals OL situation
  15. I like your ideas (as always), but here are the issues: * They’ll never play Finley over a healthy Burrow * Whether Geno plays decently or not, you can’t keep him in 2021 on a restricted cap. They might, but that’s what makes the Bengals who they are (keeping a burnt out DT over an improved OL that protects your franchise QB) * I agree on CBs even tho I see CJ ripping their play. DL has gotten poor rush over the three games and Pass D still #7 in league. Passing YPA, I think, in top 3-4. That’s mostly coverage. Get WJax, Sims, and Alexander all back. Trayvon replaces Shawn Williams. Keep this crew together as it won’t cost a lot other than $8-9 / yr for WJax. * Agree on LBs. Pratt still improving. Coverage on TEs best it’s been in a while. * Î personally like Anarumo’s idea on 3-4/4-3 but think we’re still short on the 3-4 OLB type. We’re also short now (with Wren and Tupou out) in the NT area irrespective of Reader... just need more interior size as even Daniels and Geno not big enough by today’s line standards. I’m on fence whether Dunlap is worth keeping in 2021 when we can get $12 mil in cap relief by moving him. DL is so bad that I think you move Geno/Dunlap, get $22 mil back, and build with your scheme in mind... which means you gotta figure out DC and DL coach right away when season ends. * At LT I think you stick with Jonah. Moving him to OG means you’re paying 1st Rd money to OG and starting over at LT - both tough choices - when Williams is making progress. Hopkins is still playing well and Jordan is average-ish. Gotta get a RG who can get run push and use your (what looks to be) high 1st Rd pick on best OT ... size and run blocking would def be a consideration. I’d prob move in from Hart (rather than use as backup) because it saves $5 mil in cap. I’d drop Price because it saves money and because he’s terrible at every spot he’s played. * At TE we can draft a guy in 4th or 5th who is a decent receiver and might need to get a second receiving TE in UFA if Uzomah is done (we screwed up paying him so much). Usually you can find a guy for $3 mil or so, but we need guys who can optimize Burrow... right now we don’t have that. * I’m already set to move on from Green & Ross. With a reduced cap you can’t gamble on either. Only a miraculous wake up by either changes that... but I think that Ross is a lost cause while Green didn’t come out of deep freeze as well as we’d hoped.
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