As you can imagine, of all Cincinnati Bengals coaches, quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese may have had the worst offseason of any of them. First, and most importantly, his star pupil, Carson Palmer demanded a trade, and then when his demand was was met with a brick wall, he decided he'd rather retire than continue to play for the Bengals.
Suddenly, Zampese found himself staring into a season in which he was going to have to find a way to coach Jordan Palmer or Dan LeFevour as the starting quarterback. Then, there was the constant traveling across the country to visit an endless chain of college quarterbacks that could find themselves under Zampese's wing during the 2011 season. Considering that most analysts viewed the 2011 NFL Draft class as a little on the weak side when it comes to quarterbacks, that probably stressed Zampese out as well.
Then came the draft. When the Bengals selected A.J. Green in the first round and Andy Dalton in the second, Zampese was finally able to breath a sigh of relief. According the The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, Zampese, despite the red flags, is pretty excited about the offense.
"It sure hit right for me," Zampese said. "We got a chance to change the atmosphere of our offensive meeting room, and with those first two picks (wide receiver A.J. Green and Dalton) we really established what kind of character we're going with on the top end.
"When you go with two guys that are highly accountable, highly motivated guys, it helps reinforce what you're saying at other levels of the hierarchy."
He's absolutely right. This was a different draft for the Bengals. From the first guy to the last guy, the Bengals stayed away from potential problem players. When they had a chance to grab a guy, who may have been more talented or more upside, they decided to go with a guy who was a high character guy instead.
Also, did you notice how Zampese said that they're making a move to change the attitudes from the "top end?" I have a feeling that's the final nail in Chad Ochocinco's career in Cincinnati coffin. Out with the old (Chad) and in with the new (Green... and others).
"We've got a bunch of young ones that we can get going all in the right direction, and that's encouraging. They are all hungry and young together like we did int he first group. They're all in a three-year window," Zampese said.
The Bengals are going to head into the 2011 season with one of the youngest teams that I can remember, especially on offense. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. They may not be the most successful offense in 2011, especially if they don't get much time to get going in the offseason due to the lockout, but they can use what they do in 2011 to build for the 2012 season and beyond.
Even though they're young, Dalton and Green can still step up and be leaders, and good leaders take teams places that we, as Bengals fans, don't get to see very often. Hopefully Zampese is right about his young guys because it would be nice to breathe a sigh of relief with him.