Bengals Banter: The Thrill Is Gone

After firing up my computer every morning, my iTunes player kicks in and I select a song. Usually it's at random, considering that it's typically impossible for me to decide on a certain song out of 5,000. Today's first song is the legendary B.B. King and the song is, the popular, The Thrill Is Gone. This was at about the same time that I read Ryan Harper's commentary that Carson Palmer never had a chance to succeed. I don't necessarily agree with the point of view, but I do understand its foundation.

For more on that and other stories Wednesday morning, hit the jump.

For example, since the team's successful 2005 season, little had been done to keep the tools around Palmer at their peak. Injuries across the offensive line disrupted the passing game, even though Palmer would set franchise marks through 2007. The running game took a nose dive until Cedric Benson came to Cincinnati in 2008. The defense was more accurately labeled the "don't give up more than 30 points" club. Bob Bratkowski's offensive play-calling generated more frustration than Congress. Save for Chris Henry, the team was satisfied with aging wide receivers and when T.J. Houshmandzadeh left, Chad Ochocinco was easily blanketed, essentially suffocating the passing game.

At the same time, Palmer isn't without his blame either. In the past two seasons, the Bengals personnel has dramatically improved. The defense improved. The running game improved. The wide receivers remained stationary with aging players, but the team also acquired youth in Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham. And in those cases, Palmer did utilize his weapons. And the franchise quarterback did find his new BFF once Jerome Simpson finally showed up to the party late last season.

Do I think Palmer never had a chance? No. I actually did. I think if blame must be attributed, it has to be everyone involved. Forcing passes into triple-covered receivers that led to the most pick-sixes in the league was enabled with poor decision-making. The team's pass protection improved last year, according to Football Outsiders, graded with a 5.1% adjusted sack rate that ranked seventh in the NFL, so we can only blame the offensive line for so much; even though they do have glaring holes that need to be addressed this offseason.

Regardless. At the end, I agree with King. The thrill is definitely gone.

BIG DAY FOR THE NFL? April 6 is the scheduled injunction in Minnesota filed by the players to lift the owner's lockout. If that happens, the NFL can resume the offseason normally (or as normal as they can) with the 2010-based CBA rules applying.

However, according to several sources, the big names in the lawsuit won't even be showing up.

RUNNING BACKS DIMINISHING? According to Sports Illustrated's Don Banks, you have to go all the way back to 1963 since the last time at least two running backs weren't selected in the first round. Banks writes:

Be it a recent rash of injury-prone or ineffective first-round rushers, the NFL's ever-increasing dependence on the passing game, or the rise of the two- or even three-man backfield platoon, running backs simply haven't been great first-round bets for a while now. At the very least, this year figures to be the first time since 2004 that a running back hasn't gone in the top 12 of the draft, reflecting the position's continued diminishing value in the eyes of draft decision-makers.

NFL PLAYERS LOSE 25 YEARS OF THEIR LIFE. According to two doctors used to support an argument by CFL defensive lineman Doug Brown, the average life expectancy for all professional football players is only 55 years.

TOP-32 PLAYERS FOCUSES ON DEFENSE. NFL Network's Mike Mayock ranks the top 32 prospects, listing Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus as the top prospect. It is of my opinion that the Bengals will likely draft offense in the first round, but I simply don't see how the Bengals could pass on LSU defensive back Patrick Peterson if he's still there. Especially not with Johnathan Joseph's departure on their minds.

NO EXTENSION FOR JOE FLACCO. It would seem doubtful that much will surface with the Ravens refusing to offer quarterback Joe Flacco a contract extension, aside from the disappointment from the player that won't be getting an immediate raise. The Ravens have other areas that need to be addressed quicker and, as NFL.com's Vic Carucci writes, Baltimore needs "more convincing before paying Flacco like" an elite quarterback.

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