OK, I'm seriously depressed about loosing JJo. I'm sure this is NOT the way most rational Bengals fans (including myself) would like to see the off season unfolding. Having said that, I'm going to try and look at both the positives and negatives of what they have done so far and what they can still do going forward to save this from being a complete and utter disaster(and before you say it, NO knocking off Mike Brown is not an option:).
1. For the first time in a long time we have signed our top draft pick before training camp started.
2. We went after and got the rookie QB we wanted in the draft and have already signed him to a contract.
3. We signed a veteran QB (who has actually taken snaps in the NFL) to mentor the new rookie QB (apparenly he already has a grasp of our new offense as well).
4. We got a new offensive cordinator.
5. We actually went out and got something in return for Chad and in doing so we also got rid of the biggest headache in our locker room (many beleived he would have been cut regardless). A lot of other teams are just cutting there bigger name players and getting nothing in return (cowboys, ravens, etc.), we actually got something for Chad, and were getting no credit.
6. We have a 1rst round draft pick offensive tackle from several years ago, who is coming into camp in shape for the fisrt time in his carreer.
7. We appear to have young talent all around this team, which does show that our talent evaluation has dramatically improved over the last few years.
8. Lastly, our owner is going to be forced to spend money with the new CBA and it's clearly the start of a new era for Bengals football.
1. WE STILL HAVE THE SAME DOUSHEBAG OWNER.
2. We are also (for reasons beyond me ) still holding onto the rights of a declining, not very good veteran QB who would rather retire than play for us and UNFORTUNATELY OUR DOUSHEBAG OWNER IS TOO ARROGANT AND/OR IGNORANT TO TRADE HIM FOR MORE VALUE THAN HE IS REALLY WORTH, JUST TOO MAKE A POINT.
3. We no longer have an experienced #1 receiver (although I could argue we have not had a legit #1 receiver since 2007).
4. We lost one of the better corners in football to free agency because we were either to stupid or to cheap to franchise him (this one hurts).
Now that we've examined some of the positives and neagatives lets see where we go from here.
First - Although, I'm devistated we lost JJO we still have one really good corner and have plenty of money to go out and get another above average corner (Carlos Rogers, Nate Clement). Let's face it JJO was really really good (I have his jersey) but he's not a game changer and losing him is not really going to be that dramatic of a drop off to the defense, as a whole. Most teams in the NFL (except maybe Oakland) don't even throw deep down the field all that often anymore, so in reality it's probally more important to have just one really good corner (Leon Hall who can match up with a #1) and a big time safety who can protect the middle of the field. If we can we see a significant upgrade at safety things could start looking up this off season.
Second - We no longer have our FORMER all pro #1 receiver or our FORMER all pro franchise QB. I'm actually not so sure this is a bad thing and here's why. Neither Chad or Carson have really played well since the 2006/2007 season and all we've done is sit back and watch there skills deteriate. Some will say "well we made the playoffs in 2009 with these guys" but the reality is neither guy was really that good in 2009. Carson had a few moments and made a few nice late drives, but it was our defense and running game that got us to playoffs. As much as I hate the Steelers, the one thing they do really well (I wish we did this better) is unload high pro file players once there skills start to decline (ie Joey Porter). I might be one of the few Bengals fans out there but I'm actually really happy Carson quit, especially since I didn't really see us unloading him anytime soon (I wish Mike Brown wasn't such a jack a## and would just let another team over pay for him but that's besides the point). Last year Carson threw 20 INTs, 5 of them were returned for touchdowns (I saw a stat last year right around Super Bowl time that said when a team throws a pick six, over 90% of the time the team who makes the pick six wins the games and team who throws a pick six looses the game). Therefore, statistically speaking a pick six is much more damning than either a kick return or a punt return, Carson threw five of them last year!!
Third - I truly beleive Mike Brown will move Carson next year after he's made a point. He can sell it that he's had a full year off to get healthy and he's stayed in shape (Carson's going to have to sell it as well if he wants to play for another team). Some teams going to bite and we're going to get something for him (assuming he's willing to renogiate his contract, which he will). We may not get what we could have gotten this year but we'll get something. I'm thinking instead of a 2 and 5, we may get a 3 or 4 and a conditional late round pick. In reality we're going to loose out on some of his perceived value but probally not as much as everyone is portraying (please don't get me wrong, I still think MB is a jack a## for not trading him when he had the chance to maximize value).
Fourth - We have tons of money and appear to have some pretty good young peices in place. There are still plenty of free agents out there, actually if you look at most of FA's who have signed they have done so with there former teams and we've only lost one of our own.
Lastly, we are really going to have rely on the running game and defense so I'd go hard after LB, DL, RB, and safety upgrades. Then I start working immediately on extending our own players (Leon Hall etc.) to long term deals..