Another Old TSN Post from 12/ 2007:
Three years are passing by very soon in Cincinnati. Three years of expectation. Three years of teased disappointment. Embarrassment could be the theme of the Marvin Lewis era. Maybe the only positive thing the Bengals did this season was lose to the 49ers, who played with their 3rd string QB, to make it almost impossible now for the Patriots to get their hooks on Darren McFadden.
Why do the Bengals lose so much, especially in crunch time? You could point to bad luck when they draft two RB's, only to lose both to injury. Call it the Ki-Jana Carter Curse. Their stud RB, Rudi Johnson, finally broke down too this year. Their offensive line is getting older after it took years to rebuild. They have no TE worth mentioning since Dan Ross.
Yet, they have Carson Palmer at QB. The former Heisman winner has shown grit and above average skills throughout his career thus far. He gets to toss the ball to one of the better WR trios in the NFL. Kenny Watson even picked up the slack at RB. They rank 7th in yards gained. Each of the three years they have been unstoppable, for the most part, when it comes to gaining yards. Their problem is that they settle for too many FG's, even with an excellent kicker in Graham, and they fade when the spotlights are at their brightest. Inconsistent may be the best way to describe this unit.
The main problem is the defense, or lack there of. The run defense is amongst the worst in the NFL year after year. Cornerback play has been under rated, even through it's inconsistencies. The safeties can't stay healthy, nor can the linebackers. The list of linebackers to come through Cincinnati is impressive, yet they all end up on IR. They looked smart for taking Brooks in the supplemental draft, yet he hasn't been healthy since arriving. The defensive line is basically the main issue. Justin Smith hasn't produced consistently and Geathers is a pass rushing specialist forced to play every down. There hasn't been a DT worth mentioning since Tim Krumrie. Notice the DT and TE I mentioned are from the early 80's. Shameful.
Character is certainly an issue. Odell Thurman was an above average MLB who decided to ruin his career through poor choices,. Chris Henry has lost too many games due to his poor decisions, which hurt the passing game. This list of players breaking laws is long and deep, as well as known.
What can the Bengals do to win? Marvin Lewis is not the answer. This defensive guru hasn't translated in Cincinnati. Much alike his former boss, Brian Billichek, having a label as an offensive guru even though his teams are perennially amongst the worst in offense at Baltimore. They need a tougher coach to get things together. Russ Grimm would be the perfect choice.
They really could use DL Chris Long from Virginia, but there is a very good chance he will be gone before the Bengals pick. The Jets most likely will take him. That leaves under sized DT Sedrick Ellis of USC. He has a high motor and is a classic 3 technique type. If Miami DE Calais Campbell comes out, he may be the better pick at 6 '8' 280. Penn State LB Dan Conner is a tough tackling machine that may get a long look too by Bengals brass. They need to maintain the focus of the defensive front seven throughout most of the draft. If a promising offensive lineman comes along, they must scoop him up. The tackles are aging and depth is lacking.
Bengal fans do not want to hear the word REBUILD yet. This word has loomed over the Queen City since Boomer Esiason left town. They know there is a lot of talent, especially on offense, on this team. All that is needed is toughness, camaraderie, and desire. That, unfortunately, may be too tall an order.