First and foremost, I wanted to thank everyone who submitted pictures of their six Hu-Dey beer to use for our weekly/bi-weekly feature called the Six-Pack of Hu-Dey. We can't thank you enough. Since we received so many submissions, we're likely going to rotate several of them throughout the year. For those of you that don't know, Six-Pack of Hu-Dey is Six Topics we examine, which is strictly our opinion. If you have topics you'd like to have examined, email us at JoshKirkendall [at] Gmail [dot] com.
ALLOW BACKUP QUARTERBACKS MORE TIME BEFORE RENDERING JUDGEMENT. It's hardly a stretch to say that concern regarding the Bengals' backup quarterbacks is in the majority. J.T. O'Sullivan's four completions for 33 yards passing and an interception translates to an unthinkable 7.0 passer rating. Jordan Palmer was slightly better, completing 50% of his 20 pass attempts for 102 yards passing and a touchdown. Though his two interceptions appeared to be god-awful (no, sickening); you can't throw directly at defensive players, no matter what scheme they run or the level of talent facing you. It's the NFL.
But the question I have: Should we be a little more patient with O'Sullivan and Jordan Palmer?
It seems to me that O'Sullivan and Jordan were doomed to fail from the start. Look at it this way. The Bengals literally only had 13 practices before the team's Hall of Fame game last Sunday. If you think that 13 practices is more than enough time to adequately get in sync with your receivers, then you might be giving the backup quarterbacks far more credit for having natural abilities than you should. If Carson Palmer is getting a majority of the snaps throughout all of those practices, which he should, save for a single practice on the Friday before the team's preseason opener, then it's unfair to expect either O'Sullivan or Jordan to be masterful quarterbacks when they lack experience with their receivers' habits with little work on timing.
O'Sullivan isn't a great quarterback. His best season to date is 2008 where he recorded a 73.6 passer rating. Then again, if he were great, he'd be starting in the NFL.
However, give these guys some time. As the second team quarterback last year, O'Sullivan did record a preseason passer rating of 125.8 through all four games, recording three touchdown and no interceptions with a team-high 71.8 completion percentage. However, his first game last year was six days after the team's preseason opener this year. Could those six days literally translate to such uneven performances? Possibly.
I'm not excusing O'Sullivan, nor suggesting you should praise him as the team's next big thing. Only pointing out that:
- Like it or not, these are our quarterbacks.
- Just be a bit patient for now.
GET JOHNATHAN JOSEPH EXTENSION RESOLVED SOON. There's nothing like a holdout. It angers fans. Even though many could justify a holdout, it still doesn't change the fact that the overall theme that a player needs millions and millions more just to put food on the table tends to be a tad ridiculous to most of us. For this reason alone, it's why I've come to appreciate guys like Johnathan Joseph, who while playing under the final year of his rookie contract, only wants to have a great contract year. See, in his perspective, he wants to prove on the field he's worth the new contract. Though comparing Joseph's situation to Darrelle Revis' situation is a bit short sighted also, I admit. Still, I'm happy to have Joseph and hope he's able to stick around.
When asked about a contract extension in mid-June, Joseph said:
"Everybody is different. Not everybody has the same situation," Joseph said. "I'm just trying to have the best year I can have."
"It shows positive signs," Joseph said of the negotiations. "It's one of those things that hopefully we can get it done. But if not, I'm here for the rest of this season and I'm focused on this season. I'm not that worried about it, but it's one of those things you'd like to get behind you."
Now, we know that Joseph isn't going to hold out and he's going to play out the life of his existing contract. And the Bengals do want to get a deal done. According to James Walker, the Bengals and Joseph could return to the negotiating table relatively soon.
An extension now would help the Bengals in the long-run. Aside from obviously having one half of the league's best cornerback duo sealed for some time, the Bengals actually run the risk of having to spend more money on Joseph closer to free agency next year, where he could shop with other teams for greater compensation, which realistically could knock Cincinnati out of the running.
People keep saying that the Bengals window keep closing. I enthusiastically disagree. As long as the team keeps their core players on defense, like Joseph, Leon Hall, Keith Rivers, Rey Maualuga, Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, Domata Peko, among others, this team's window is much greater than some people give this team credit for. This window doesn't open and close based on Carson Palmer. It shifts based on the team's young core talent. And in that, the team's core is damn good. At least on defense.
COULD GENO ATKINS BE STARTING AGAINST THE PATRIOTS? A quick disclaimer: I'm not one to see a player perform great in his first NFL game (preseason or regular season), and instantly award him knighthood. I've always implored patience when judging things with this team; especially after a preseason game in which the Bengals only notched 13 training camp sessions (only one of which was full contact) under their belts. However, I was very impressed by Atkins. Of all the team's newest players, he surprised me the most. Adam Jones played well, but we knew he had talent. Michael Johnson's move to a new position was impressive too. Actually, really impressive.
But Atkins has virtues that impresses me. Along with his an ability to pass the rusher as a defensive tackle, I was impressed with Atkins' motor. With 13 minutes left in the third quarter, firing off the line of scrimmage from his right defensive tackle spot, Atkins drove the offensive guard backwards, nearly disrupting a handoff to Herb Donaldson. The Cowboys running back squirmed past Atkins, who spun around, quickly catching up to Donaldson five yards later, pulling him back to the turf. Later in the game, Atkins split a double team and drilled running back Lonyae Miller for a three yard loss.
Granted, most of Atkins contributions came, not against the Cowboys starters, rather their backups and third-stringers. And his production wasn't what I was generally impressed with, even though that was impressive enough. But you see the effort that this guy brings, which isn't always present with other players.
I'm not sure if he'll start over Tank Johnson or Domata Peko. At the same time, if he constantly plays like he did last Sunday Night, you have to wonder how the argument can't be made. But I suppose we should check out the remainder of the preseason.
BRIAN LEONARD'S INJURY HURTS. Granted, latest reports suggest that Bengals running back Brian Leonard's injury could be much better than was originally speculated. However, his contributions, keeping drives alive, doing the little things to help the Bengals succeed will be missed for how long he's out.
Bernard Scott figures to be the natural replacement as a third-down back, catching passes out of the backfield, making guys miss open field tackles. Still, it wasn't really Leonard's talent that made him a favorite in Cincinnati. It's his determination and heart to get those tough yards for a first down. Therefore, while I can see the argument suggesting that Scott would be a good third-down back, I'm not sure. Yes, his talents suggests it. He can probably outrun any linebacker in the NFL and he has enough deceptive power to easily take on safeties.
But my question with Scott is if he has those third-down intangibles that Leonard possesses. In my opinion, Scott should serve fine. But that's not what's being judged. How much gut does Scott have, like Leonard, to do whatever you have to, staying on your feet and sacrificing your body to get a first down? That's the Leonard intangible that we don't know about yet.
ANDRE SMITH NEEDS AN ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT. Last year, it ended up not being that big of a deal. After missing all of training camp due to contract negotiations, and then missing the first half of the season due to an injury sustained during a non-contact drill, Andre Smith's absence really wasn't that big of a deal. Now that the offensive tackle is entering his second year, it's critical that he adjusts his attitude to being an NFL-caliber tackle and that starts now. As I told my darling little sister over the weekend, "it's time for you to become who you meant to become."
After a February procedure that was designed to prevent future problems with his foot, Smith's recovery time was expected to see him rejoin the team, working out, by minicamp. He wasn't cleared and through two weeks of training camp, he's yet to be cleared. Citing work ethics and not busting his ass to get ready for training camp, Smith was sent to the Marvin Lewis' doghouse, without collecting a chicken-wing after passing GO. Lewis would go on to to say that Alabama didn't provide the Bengals with enough information on Smith; notably, his work ethic -- even though it was flagged as a character issue by many draft experts.
If Smith's inability to join the Bengals during Training Camp IS the result of being lazy and not working towards full recovery, then that's a serious problem. One in which develops trust issues, wondering if he'll do what's necessary to keep the Bengals at the top of their game. I love the Bengals. I love Marvin Lewis. And I think highly of Smith's potential.
But it's getting to that time. Through the questionable decisions during workouts before the Bengals drafted him, to the questionable character that described him before the 2009 NFL Draft, he's done enough while employed with the Bengals now (at least reportedly), to make me believe that Smith's attitude absolutely sucks and I'm questioning if that'll change. And if it doesn't change by this time next year, then maybe it's worth looking past him for our future offensive line development projects.
FIVE PRESEASON GAMES IS TOO MUCH. Preseason games are notorious for one thing. A panicked fear of injuries. Such a fear exists that most teams will elect to remove players that will actually be playing a majority of the season, because the anxiety of losing your best is too much to overcome. It makes sense. But it also bastardizes the preseason, which is mostly used as an evaluation tool for players at the bottom of the depth chart. For that reason alone, having four (or five in the Bengals point of view) preseason games is about as useful as the St. Louis Cardinals whining like babies.
That being said, the Bengals having five preseason games is borderline ridiculous. Will the team keep Carson Palmer and the first team offense on the field to help improve their passing game? It would make much more sense if the first team offense were to be on the field for at least the first half of the remaining preseason games to keep getting in work. However, the fear of injury is far too great a concern to think of that as a sensible theory. Instead, the next four games will see J.T. O'Sullivan and Jordan Palmer receive a majority of the snaps when the Bengals passing game, while improved on paper, still needs to get as much work in as possible.
It's not like we're facing the Browns or the Lions when the season starts. Our first two games are against the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. We really have to be on our A-game, or else we're behind the eight ball by September 20.
That being said, it's not the reality. The reality is that the Bengals will look to give our backups more work, allow the bottom half of the roster to compete for job and be content that guys like Palmer, Cedric Benson and Chad Ochocinco are safe, snugly attached to the bosom of the sidelines. Four games is too much, much less five, because the time that could be used improving your team, is instead an evaluation tool to pick the bottom of your roster. If that's the case, then two games works fine.