(Editor's note: This is the second installment of a weekly series where Cincy Jungle's own Anthony Cosenza will answer emails and "tweets" sent to him, talk about Bengals topics of the week, and/or respond to our reader's comments that were posted on the site over the course of the week. This post will likely morph in its layout and content over the next few weeks, so we are excited to see where it takes us and you -- the readers. This is meant to be a more interactive article involving our readers, so feel free to email Anthony any topics and/or questions that you'd like to see kicked around on this feature at email@example.com, or send him a "tweet" @CUIBengalsFan.)
Thank you, readers, for your feedback to last week's launch of our weekly mailbag feature. If you missed it last week, I'll go over some questions tweeted and/or emailed my way, as well as respond to some interesting comments and FanPosts here at Cincy Jungle.
It's been a busy week for Cincinnati both on and off of the football field. There's been some interesting news regarding the injury front, as well as some news regarding the always controversial Mike Brown. You all weighed in on the various subjects and had a lot of interesting things to say. Now it's my turn.
Regarding the situation with Andre Smith and his weight loss, you all had varying opinions on Smith and what his status with the team should be when his rookie contract expires after the 2012 season. Commenter "BENGALS69" made a comment that piqued my interest, summarizing the situation surrounding Smith:
Well put. Smith has really only shown the will to work hard and play well when the team decided against picking up the option of the extra year in his contract. And though he's been solid this season, he still hasn't show his worth to the squad for where he was selected in the draft just a few, short years ago. The real proof will be in how he plays next season, which is a "contract year". Regardless, it's nice to see Smith taking his career seriously and this team has done well with him in the lineup and his weight issues seeming to be behind him.
Speaking of Smith, Anthony Collins, the draft and next season--what will the Bengals' game plan be with this group? I still maintain that Smith is better suited as a guard with Collins flanking him at right tackle. In his short stint of starting for Smith while he was injured, Collins played very well on the right side. If you draft a lineman early in next year's draft, it would ideally be a guard to put on the left side to replace the maligned Nate Livings. They could go also go after a free agent as many of the "mock offseason" FanPosts here have suggested. Regardless, my ideal lineup would be (from left to right): Whitworth, rookie/free agent, Cook, Smith, Collins. As we've touched on before, the real tough situation will be with Collins. As much sense as it would make to keep him as a starter on the right side, the Bengals will likely let him walk because of their stubborn logic of keeping Smith as the right tackle even though he may not be the best player at that spot.
On the Smith article, commenter "joeb69" posted a link to a column from CBS' Gregg Doyel. A controversial and entertaining read, Doyel places the blame of the lack of sellouts directly to Mike Brown. This is a much different stance than that of most national media, as others seem to ask why Cincinnatians aren't flocking to Paul Brown Stadium to see this young exciting team that is on the precipice of reaching the playoffs. Simply put, Doyel maintains that it's owner/G.M. Mike Brown's fault. It's the losing ways under his twenty years of ownership, coupled with the treatment of the city's residents and Bengals fans. I agree with him.
I rarely enjoy Doyel's columns about Cincinnati and the Bengals because they are pessimistic and cynical, even in the rosiest of times in Bengaldom. I've come to realize that that attitude comes with being a native of the Cincinnati area. Doyel points out that the poor attendance at PBS directly correlates to fan unrest and distrust of Bengals management--not the lack of a loyal fan base:
This is not Cincinnati's fault. Bengals fans are not bad fans. Get that straight right now. They lack neither passion nor loyalty. This is a franchise that, until last season, sold out 57 consecutive home games. That's a streak of nearly eight years. Any idea how many playoff games the Bengals won in those eight years?
Bingo. Fans have been duped by the Brown clan before. They were conned into thinking that, after the 2005 season, Carson Palmer would be the same franchise quarterback after his horrific knee injury and that it was just a minor setback to a budding dynasty. Oops. The Bengals' loyal were fooled once again after a improbably strong 2009 season, which led to a 2010 squad talking about a Super Bowl. Ka-boom. Now that another exciting season is unfolding in 2011, fans are in "show me mode", telling Brown to show them changes and a consistent winner before they shell out hard-earned money for expensive PBS tickets. Though they'll be more affordable in 2012, that's not an automatic guarantee that fans will sell out all home games next season--even with a promising future ahead. Consistency is what they want--and then you'll see them back.
To end on a positive note, the Pro Bowl results came in on Tuesday, with A.J. Green being the only Bengals player named to the AFC roster. Honestly, I'd say that Green is the most deserving player on the Bengals to get an invite to the NFL's version of the All-Star Game. He's been a monster this year and is shaping up to be one of the best draft picks ever made by this franchise, as he's broke other rookie receiving records even with missing one and a half games due to injury.
I felt that Geno Atkins, Mike Nugent and Andy Dalton were all players deserving of making the Pro Bowl. While Philip Rivers is a great quarterback, he's been a turnover machine this year and Dalton has outplayed him. Atkins has had a monster year in his first season as a starter at defensive tackle. He seems to make multiple big plays every game and has racked up one of the top sack numbers by a defensive tackle this season. Commenter "KSE" took the words right out of my mouth, in terms of Bengals players getting robbed out of a Pro Bowl bid:
This is so true. You'll see less deserving players getting the nod here simply because they are on a winning team. But, we as Bengals fans all know that even though a player may be on a winning team, he may not be the best player at that position.
On another note, Bengals running back Cedric Benson made it as a "fifth alternate". To me, this equates him as ranked around eighth in the AFC and roughly sixteenth in the NFL, overall. While "fifth alternate" may be an honor to some, that simply isn't good enough for team that claimed that they were going to protect their rookie quarterback with a sound running game. Fifteen inconsistent weeks and two fumbles later, it's time to move in a different direction.
Thanks for commenting here at Cincy Jungle. Be sure to keep speaking your mind and send those emails and tweets my way!