June 5, 2009
By Donald Starver
Today we will be continuing our AFC North review. As I explained yesterday, I have recruited 3 fellow AFC North bloggers to help me with the review. Joe Barnes from the Baltimore Ravens blog The Ebony Bird started things off yesterday. Today we will continue with blogger Adam Kiefaber from the Cincinnati Bengals Blog Bengal Stripes giving us his review of the Bengals off-season. On Saturday we will have Don Delco from the Cleveland Browns blog No Logo Needed. And finally, I will finish up on Sunday with my review of the Steelers’ off-season.
You have the floor, Adam.
AFC North Offseason Review: Cincinnati Bengals
2008 Record: 4-11-1 (AFC North: 1-5)
Key Free Agent Signings:
Key Draft Selections:
Best Free Agent Signing and Impact:
The best free-agent signing in 2009 has to be Laveranues Coles. The top reason that he is the best signing is because the team had lost its third-down go-to receiver in T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency. While fans in the Nati were bummed to see one of their favorites sign elsewhere, the signing of Coles is believed to be an upgrade over Housh in some keg lines of Bengals fans. Coles may open up the vertical passing attack and still be able to catch those clutch short over-the-middle passes that Housh was so great at. That being said, the upgrades on defense through free agency could provide the Bengals with a big boost. While Coles should be the best signing, I wouldn’t be surprised if either DT Tank Johnson or S Roy Williams have great seasons.
Biggest Loss and Impact:
The biggest name lost has to be Houshmandzadeh, and I wasn’t referring to how many letters are in his name. However, the Bengals could lose the most from its tackle spots. The team let Stacy Andrews walk and made Levi Jones take a hike, leaving the Bengals without its two OT starters from a year ago. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of Andrews. I thought he was just a project who never emerged into the superstar that everyone was hoping for. However the Eagles decided to pay him like he is a superstar.
Then there is Jones, who has been awful for the past couple of seasons. Cincinnati is projected to start ’09 first-rounder Andre Smith at right tackle and Andrew Whitworth (started at left guard in ’08) at left tackle. Both players could struggle against speed rushers, but I am certain that they cannot be worse than what Andrews and Jones did in ’08. Or can they?
What is your reaction to the Bengals’ draft?:
Before the draft began most Bengals fans didn’t like their chances to compete in the AFC North in 2009. However, after the draft, those expectations changed. The Bengals second-round pick Rey Maualuga really had fans excited. The additions of Michael Johnson, Chase Coffman, Jonathan Luigs and Kevin Huber had fans shaking their heads and saying to each other, “could this draft have gone any better!” Surely, the hype may not produce a winner right away, but even from an outsider’s perspective, the Bengals improved themselves immensely in the draft.
Was the Bengals’ biggest need addressed?:
The biggest need appeared to be offensive tackle and running back. The Bengals must have known that they were going to get a starter at OT in the draft, because they were set on acquiring a starting running back. Cincinnati seemed to focused on former New York Giant Derrick Ward, but eventually made the right decision to re-sign Cedric Benson. Both Smith and Benson need to have good seasons for the Bengals to have a chance of competing in 2009.
What storylines will you follow in camp?:
An easier question will be which ones won’t I be following. There is always the Curious Case of Ochocinco, the attitude of Andre Smith, the role that Rey Maualuga will play, if Tank Johnson or Chris Henry shoot anybody, if Roy Williams is as close to being as good as he was in Dallas, how Coles will turn out, and there is so much more. The obvious storyline that everyone better watch for is the offensive line. Only one starter from 2008 is back at his spot in right guard Bobbie Williams. The rest of the line better play well or Carson Palmer might not make it through the season.
Thanks Adam. That was a very good review. Personally, I agree with most of your opinions. The Bengals have a lot of question marks this season. I am anxious to see how Carson Palmer looks in his return. I always wonder what Carson Palmer’s career would have been like if he had remained healthy (and played for a better team than the Bengals).
I agree with you on the question marks on the Bengals’ offensive line. The Bengals’ line is even more suspect than the Steelers’, and that is a scary thought.
On the positive side, the Bengals probably had the best draft in the AFC North. Andre Smith should be a stud. Rey Maualuga was a steal where the Bengals took him. Michael Johnson is going to be good, and Jonathan Luigs was yet another steal.
When you combine a great draft with all of the players that the Bengals signed in free agency, and the return of Carson Palmer, it becomes clear that the Bengals will be much improved and will definitely contend for…….last place in the AFC North.
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