There is so much talk of all the great things to look forward to next season and with good reason. However there are thing’s I’m seeing bits and pieces of that I feel are things that we need to be a little concerned about. Not that I want to kill the good vibe we have going on around here I'm just not used to feeling stability in the off season. I don’t want to go in to the common worries that we all have such as Carson getting some kind of season ending or dumb nagging injury that will effect his production. More so I want to concentrate on the things I’ve read in reports that concern me.
Number one on my list of concerns is our big free agent signing Antonio Bryant and the age old concern we always deal with as Bengals fan’s and that’s him staying healthy. The fact is Antonio doesn't have a crystal clear past in regards to injuries. We all know of the knee problems that come to light last season. (triggered by as much as a cramp on an airplane) Much is said of the Ravens big name signing Anquan Boldin in the regards of being injury prone and much of that’s well deserved. The fact is though he has been much more productive through his career than Antonio even with nagging injuries. We could have signed him for the same kind of money but chose not to because our front office probably thought he wanted to much and wouldn’t entertain the idea. Now from what I can see Boldin has had no mishaps in camp thus far and we already have this from Bryant. Now whether this is a deep concern or not you will never get the answer from Mikey’s boy toy Geoff as he always brushes these kind’s of things under the rug. (See Carson Palmer 2008) I however am concerned and afraid we may have made the wrong decision in who we signed.
"Bryant looked good early, but when his knee began to give him some trouble last week, he ended the camps looking like he had all the elusiveness of the anchor formerly known as Coles. They think he’ll be OK once he gets proper rest and some rehab, and it also shows they’ve got a tenacious, conscientious guy that tried to stay on the field so he could learn the offense. If he gets the proper rest, he should be OK, but it makes the sun a little hotter."
Number two on my list is of course Andre the Giant. Now we all know this guy at one time was considered the best tackle in the draft. With that said he has yet to prove he warranted that kind of attention or hype. Now we’ve all seen the crazy game tape from college showing his amazing run blocking but we’re only assuming he can be a rock in pass protection. He has made some irrational decisions prior to the draft causing some character or integrity concerns as well as questionable or lack of motivation concerns. Never mind his skills my concern comes back to another player’s ability to stay healthy. Prior to last year our offensive line was amongst the worst in the league and our response to this was drafting this guy. If this guy can not stay healthy and get on the field my concern is we go back to Carson dropping back for a pass and getting SLAMMED from his blind side. We can’t have this happen and I know many of you don’t feel this is as big of concern as I might be making it. What I say to you guys is simply this "We have a $100 million Quarterback his protection should be above all concern"
ESPN’s John Clayton Writes:
"Tackle Andre Smith, Cincinnati Bengals: Talk about roller-coaster rides. Since the 2009 scouting combine in Indianapolis, Smith has had a thrill ride, but at this stage, the Bengals still don't know what they have. Smith presumably lowered his draft stock by showing up heavy and then leaving the combine a day early. He recovered by working out harder and convinced the Bengals to make him the sixth pick. He held out for 32 days to get a contract that guaranteed him $21 million. A few days after his arrival, Smith fractured his left foot. He started only one game at right tackle and played only 10.7 percent of the team's snaps as a rookie. His left foot is still bothering him and there is a good chance he might not be available again until the start of training camp."
Number three and final on my list of concerns is strength of schedule. Last year at this time I was bragging a weaker schedule would be a reason for turn around. So naturally this year my concern is that a stronger schedule will be reason for a set back. Now we’ve all seen that number’s and history will tell us that strength of schedule usually isn’t a very good indicator of how good a team does or how good there opponent’s will do for that matter. The fact is though a lot of the team’s on the schedule not only did good last year but have been consistently good throughout the past decade. With team’s like the Patriots, the Colts, the Chargers and division rivals like the Ravens and the Steelers coming up twice I feel this is a reason for concern. With that said I’m a true believer in you have to beat the best to be the best and this schedule will be a true measuring stick going in to the playoff’s next year assuming we make it.
"The NFL scheduling gods have conspired to give the Bengals a Herculean task. Besides two tough division games each with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, they play San Diego, New Orleans, New England, the Jets, and Dolphins too. Oh, did I mention they play the Colts also?
With that kind of schedule, the Bengals are going to be hard-pressed to finish this season at 8-8, third in the AFC North, and out of the playoffs. Sorry Bengal fans, you and Marvin Lewis deserve better. But that is what my crystal ball shows me.
Maybe I'm being to pessimistic and need to lay off the WDR but these are 3 thing's I'm definitely watching and I am definitely concerned about.