+ Signing Gary Russell shouldn't mean that the Bengals have changed their draft board by relying on the Ohio native as a backup to Cedric Benson. Where Russell benefits Cincinnati the most, is something that the Bengals haven't had for a long time -- a short-yardage back.
However, it didn't start that way. Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Russell carried the ball six times -- all of them on first and second down. Against the Bengals, Russell rushed on third-and-one at the Pittsburgh 34-yard line. He was stuffed for no gain -- thanks to Brandon Johnson -- and the Steelers were forced to punt. The rest of his rush attempts were on first and second down. Against the Giants, Russell rushed one time on second-and-10 and picked up eight yards.
Then it starting clicking. Against the Chargers, Russell rushed twice on separate third-and-one situations. He picked up six and four yards respectively; both first downs. The second time against the Bengals, the Steelers called Russell's number on fourth-and-one; he picked up the first down setting up an eventual Steelers touchdown pass from three yards out. With 21 seconds left in the third quarter, Russell recorded a two-yard rushing touchdown during a goal-line situation. In 12 games played, Russell picked up 11 first downs on 28 rushing attempts; a 39.3% conversion rate.
However, I believe it would be a mistake if the Bengals suddenly depreciated their need for a backup running back in the draft; specifically a speed-bursting scat-back to compliment Benson. And there's no reason why we can't have a feature back, scat-back and a short-yardage back ready for specific situations. There's a domino effect here also. If the Bengals draft another running back, and give Benson and Russell spots on the roster, that means DeDe Dorsey and James Johnson are off the 53-man roster. Kenny Watson sticks around to help pass protection.
+ Bengals.com released another mock draft -- well, mocking the first five teams to see what could be left with the sixth pick and in this mock QB Matthew Stafford, LT Eugene Monroe, LB Aaron Curry, LT Jason Smith and WR Michael Crabtree were already selected. The selections are the same we've heard: WR Jeremy Maclin, RB Beanie Wells, DT B.J. Raji, LT Andre Smith and RB Knowshon Moreno. Now, Hobson basically dissects the likelihood of drafting any of those players and points out how difficult it is to really nail what the Bengals are going to do. However, I'm going into my own tangent about why the Bengals shouldn't draft a running back or wide receiver with their first pick.
I'm in the school that drafting a running back in the first round tends to be more wasteful than beneficial, save for the rare talents like Adrian Peterson. Running backs have a much shorter life-span, so the cost alone could be wasteful. But more importantly, running backs recently drafted early by the Bengals, for some screwed up reason, tend to be disappointing or frequently (and significantly) injured. Furthermore, it seems that many of the league's best running backs aren't always first round selections and every year running backs seem to be the deepest class than any other position in the draft. In other words, we might just as easily find a quality back in the third round than the first round.
As for wide receiver, I've made the point before. We have several unproven talents on this roster and with Chad Johnson and Laveranues Coles starting, those opportunities are going to be limited as it is. Wouldn't drafting Maclin or Crabtree, with Johnson, Coles and (likely) Chris Henry higher on the depth chart just be a waste? Would that also declare that in the 2008 NFL draft selecting three wide receivers a terrible mistake and that we're on the verge of abandoning them already?
Dave calls it all media speculation when he responded to ESPN's Michael Smith regarding the possibility that the Bengals draft Beanie Wells. For the reasons above, I just don't see them drafting running back or wide receiver with the first pick. Later? Yea. Just not in the first round.
+ Jason Cole lists his best/worst games for each week in 2009. The Bengals made three appearances. September 13 against the Denver Broncos, which is listed because "this is the beginning of a rough year for the Broncos." On November 22, Coles lists the Bengals and Oakland Raiders match-up and then the Detroit Lions and Bengals on December 6, which he says, "The only question going into this game will be which wide receiver named Johnson (Calvin or Chad) will have wasted more of his career playing for these abysmal franchises." Ouch.
More links and notes.
For those of you that questioned why the Bengals didn't go after Jason Peters, who was traded to the Eagles, here's the most likely reason. "The entire structured contract is for six years and $60 million with almost $25 million in guarantees."
Steelers fans are mildly surprised that Russell was cut and can't figure out why Russell was cut in the first place