Apr 7, 2008
There’s not a lot going on right now, but plenty with the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals are in bad shape, obviously. Head coach Marvin Lewis is a fraud and it was a mistake to bring him back. They should have blown this whole thing up in the off-season. Not that Lewis is to blame for Chris Henry’s latest transgression, but Lewis is ultimately accountable for the litany of problems his players have had – and of course their lackluster play and poor W-L records the last two years. He’s supposed to be a guru on his side of the ball, yet his defense has been miserable in his five seasons. He’s been the Brian Billick of the defensive side of the ball. It took a while for Billick to get canned, but he finally did, and Lewis will be soon as well. I will say that the frugal (ok, cheap) Bengals don’t help Lewis at all. DE Justin Smith is gone, and so is S Madieu Williams, for example.
I feel really bad for Carson Palmer. He must feel like the only normal person in a family full of dysfunctional nut-jobs. The sad thing is Henry was to be a huge key to their offense this year, especially with veterans Chad Johnson and TJH not participating in the team’s off-season workout program. The Bengals greatly missed Henry the first half of the season last year, and they will big time in 2008.
I understand Johnson’s beef to an extent, but he’s brought a lot of it on himself, and he’s not capable of dealing with the ugliness in Cincy in a professional manner, the way Palmer is. He just can’t do it; he’s too much of a crybaby, and a selfish front-runner. Unfortunately, the same things that make Johnson a charismatic and interesting character make him a head case.
The Bengals will certainly look to resurrect their slumping power running game, which could be good news for Rudi Johnson. Problem is, Johnson looked horrible last year on film and live on TV, so he might not have much left. Even worse, their line, one of the best in the league two years ago, is now below-average, or worse. And if you’re thinking that dynamic second-year back Kenny Irons can inject some juice in their lineup, think again; Irons’ comeback from his devastating knee injury isn’t going all that well. So if there’s one player who may come out of all this looking good, it’s backup Kenny Watson, who really looked good last year. He showed some power in between the tackles, some juice, and he’s a very capable receiver out of the backfield.
Of course, with or without Johnson on the team, T.J. Houshmandzadeh should continue to be Palmer’s go-to guy. He’s the only guy in the passing game Palmer can truly rely on, I think. I can’t check right now, but I know Houshmandzadeh’s contract is running out (it ends after 2008 or 2009), and I know as of even two years ago TJH was looking for a lot more money. His relationship with the team could get ugly, too.
In short, it’s a complete mess in Cincinnati.