The following is an experiment on our parts, a trial run of sorts. We're wanting to piece together a Bengals round table where we chat about some of the issues facing the Cincinnati Bengals. If we grow into using this more frequently, it could be something where we poll the questions from our readers and followers on Twitter for the most important questions facing the team. Hopefully it works.
In this edition, Jason Garrison and Naji Bsisu join Josh Kirkendall to randomly chat about some of the things facing the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jason Garrison: With four quarterbacks at camp, Dalton, Gradkowski, Palmer and LeFevour, who do you think the Bengals will let go?.... LeFevour or Palmer?
Naji: If it was me, I'd get rid of Palmer
Josh Kirkendall: Think about what the other brings. Palmer showed leadership qualities getting the players together during the offseason. LeFevour was a part of that, but kind of along for the ride. And LeFevour, from reports, hasn't been spectacular either. I don't know, to be honest. We'll find out when Jordan is allowed to practice but I'm pretty sure they'll keep Jordan.
Jason: You don't think Brown will release Jordan to rid himself of the entire Palmer family on the team, or maybe as a last insult to Carson?
Naji: By keeping Jordan, you keep the Carson issue in the background, if you want the team/fans to move forward I think you have to cut ties with Jordan.
Josh: I just don't see Jordan adding anything more to the discussion regarding Carson. Whether Jordan stays or goes, the same issues remain with Carson. It's not like if they release Jordan then all of the sudden Carson is forgotten. All of that is still an issue. And no, I don't think Mike Brown is that vindictive (and petty) to release Jordan out of spite for his brother.
Naji: Is Andre Smith's option going to be picked up?
Josh: I don't think they'll pick it before August 19. Just because he came into camp at 338 pounds, there's more history behind him with a questionable work ethic. They could always re-sign him to another contract if they're impressed enough at the end of the season.
Jason: yeah, I think he's going to have to prove that he's worth the team keeping around. I don't think they'll just look at his weight and hear that he's a changed man and then decide to throw a wad of cash at his face. He's going to have to prove it on the field and he hasn't done that.
Naji: If he maintains his weight and impresses the coaches, I'd hope they'd resign him before he hit free agency. It would suck for him to all of a sudden figure it out and then only help us for a year before moving on to another team.
Josh: He's signed through 2012, so if he plays well in 2011, we'll have a year before getting him under another contract. I just want to see him stay healthy for a full season. If he can't do that, the conversation about Smith's contract really takes a backseat.
Naji: True, not one of Marvin's/Mike's best picks
Josh: It was a very divisive pick, for sure. But it was a position that desperately needed to be addressed at the time and Jason Smith was already gone.
Jason: He still can prove that he was worth the No. 6 overall pick, though. But right now, I wish they would have signed somebody else. I hope Smith proves me wrong.
Josh: I still expect Anthony Collins to make an impression. That guy gets shafted by this team nearly as much as Evan Mathis did.
Naji: Do we ever know why Mathis never got a chance, it's hard to believe that the coaching staff couldn't see on film that he was the better option that Livings.
Jason: Who knows.
Josh: Asking the purpose in life is the only question that's more puzzling than Mathis.
Naji: I'd have to agree.
Josh: Is Cedric Benson still the answer at running back?
Jason: I think right now he is. He's the only guy on the roster that can carry the ball 20-25 time a game between the tackles.
Naji: I'd say he is for this year, but I think the team goes in a different direction next year.
Jason: Yeah, maybe they'll take a running back high in the draft next year or possibly actually spend some money on one in free agency. Either way, I think Benson is the man this year and then the Bengals go in a different direction
Josh: I'm of the school that running backs are starting to become a dime a dozen. You can find a good UDFA back that's largely effective and you could be alright. And you could always rotate running backs through, breaking down spot duty for 2-3 backs that carry the load.
Naji: Especially if you have a solid offensive line in front of them.
Jason: Are you guys a little surprised that the first over/under for the Bengals released this year was set at 7.5 games with -120 on over?
Josh: No. I'm more optimistic than most because I think they have one of the easier schedules. And I think the team will ease the transition on offense slowly enough to manage the game rather than the high-risk offense from last year. Then again I was optimistic before Johnathan Joseph signed with the Houston Texans Thursday night. That was a big blow.
Jason: Yea, it was.
Naji: That crushed my optimism for a while, so did losing Lutui, I was excited for some offensive line help
Josh: I wasn't so sure about him though. He had an issue with his weight in the past and from most reports, that's why the team failed his physical. He was a career starter at right guard, but he was going to make $5 million his first year. Did that mean he was going to move to left guard or backup Bobbie Williams?
Jason: Me too but I'd rather this happen than a repeat of the Antonio Bryant situation.
Naji: True, I just get excited when they sign a lineman with potential.
Jason: Bottom line, though, the team needs to get some help on the offensive line because with a rookie quarterback in the game, defenses like to send pressure.
Josh: I think we have the talent. Boling is getting a lot of work during Training Camp, an eventual starting left guard and if Andre Smith finally gets it and has the season we expect out of him, impressions could change tremendously. The thing I worry about is depth most of all. Backup center, Reggie Stephens, is inexperienced. Anthony Collins could backup both tackle positions and Livings would most likely be your first backup at guard (if Boling takes over). But that's about it.
Jason: Yeah, there's not a lot of depth there at all. Let's hope our linemen can stay healthy.
Jason: So what do you think happens with Michael Johnson this season? Does he start at defensive end opposite of Carlos Dunlap and ahead of Robert Geathers or does the team try moving him back to linebacker again?
Naji: Personally, I hope they keep him at defensive end, but with all the injuries at the linebacker position they may be tempted to move him back there again.
Josh: Reports we've read tends to suggest that the Michael Johnson experiment, at the very least, is on hold. Most of his snaps are coming as a defensive end. My prediction for opening day starters at defensive end will be Geathers and Johnson. That's where Johnson should stay, anyway. He was a productive end, even though he didn't have the sack numbers to back it up. But his pass rushes often forced quarterbacks to spin away into the loving embrace of Carlos Dunlap.
Jason: ...and Dunlap rotates in on Geathers side during obvious passing downs?
Josh: Geathers is one of the weaker pass rushers, but probably as strong as any defensive lineman on the team against the run; though he struggled a lot last season. I'd imagine Geathers would rotate out during passing situations.
Naji: If they re-sign Fanene I could see him rotating in as well on passing downs.
Josh: Wouldn't be surprising to see him as a defensive tackle during passing downs; before Odom's injury in 2009, that's often where Fanene would line up on third downs. But there's no indication that the team is bringing him back.
Naji: He's productive when healthy and I'm sure he would be cheap.