First thing before we dig into today's Banter. The vote for best caption regarding Fui Vakapuna's crazy-ass hair is: Roads? Where we're going we don't need roads. The winning Back To The Future caption goes to commenter "dqniel". This beat my personal favorite Mad Max moment when the Humungus tells a group of settlers in the Wasteland (aka, Australia):
Just walk away. Give me your pump, the oil, the gasoline, and the whole compound, and I’ll spare your lives. Just walk away and we’ll give you a safe passageway in the wastelands. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.
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The prize? The most obvious is this Mad Max reference, complete with a super-villain that wore what could only be found today in your favorite S&M movie. Seriously. You saw this guy today and you're not running away because you see a super-villain hell bent on taking your fuel, food and water. You're running away because he's wearing that. But that's the progress we've made as a culture, changing definitions as our enlightened species grows into a new state of being.
In the meantime, let's talk about the Bengals.
Defensive tackle Pat Sims appears ready to return whereas Adam Jones could be out for the first six weeks of the season. Carlos Dunlap has missed the entire preseason, but he's expecting to be back by the start of the regular season. All the while Bengals running back Cedric Benson is in Texas to appear for trial, after being charged with assault during May 2010.
These are important details about the Cincinnati Bengals right now, all of which emerged over the weekend.
Yet the world that covered the Bengals outside of Cincinnati focused on two things. Cincinnati releasing Jordan Palmer and Cam Newton scoring a rushing touchdown.
Not that it wasn't newsworthy that Palmer was released, but lets face facts; he had about as much production with the Cincinnati Bengals as your prototypical practice squad player. Palmer played four games in three seasons, completing 10 of 15 passes for 59 yards passing and two interceptions. Most of his work was highlighted during your standard mop-up duty during blowouts to protect his older brother from suffering a needless injury.
Now that's not to say it's his fault for failing to get on the field. After all he wasn't going to beat out Carson Palmer and the year Carson suffered an elbow injury (2008), backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick had already spent a full season integrated with the Cincinnati Bengals offense
Trivia: The Cincinnati Bengals acquired Fitzpatrick in a trade on September 1, 2007 from the St. Louis Rams. Who/what did the Bengals give up?
Aside from, what had to have been, awkward moments with his older brother forcing retirement and concentrating to play for the team that refuses to trade him, Palmer's release didn't likely have anything to do with his bloodline, and definitely not about finances. There's growing speculation that the Bengals could go with two quarterbacks this year, starting the season with rookie Andy Dalton and veteran Bruce Gradkowski backing him up.
And it's not like Gradkowski has played great. In 12 possessions this preseason, Gradkowski has engineered zero points, every possession resulting in punts (eight), turnovers (three) and one with a handful of V-formation snaps. Yet we'd be remise (and completely foolish) if we didn't point out that Gradkowski had guys like John Standeford, Andrew Hawkins and Calvin Russell running routes with Dennis Roland and Max Jean-Gilles pass blocking. But he also had Jordan Shipley, Brian Leonard, Andre Caldwell, Chase Coffman, Clint Boling, Anthony Collins and Bo Scaife. Irrelevant!
Though not even that was detracting enough to see the endless replays about Cam Newton's touchdown, which invokes memories of Reds fans forced to remind everyone that Carlton Fisk's homerun didn't matter; it was the Reds that won the series. Alright. So it's not on the same, but it did occur to me at the time.
Watching the replay of Cam Newton's touchdown run to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, you'd think that Cincinnati was your poor sap on a poster that's taped to a teenage boy's wall. You know the guy trying to defend Michael Jordan? There's no doubt that Newton's run was good, compounded by his marital arts attempt to crawl over Jonathan Wade's back to score the touchdown. His recognition and response in the second quarter to see Cincinnati's pass rush break down opening a lane that allowed him to pick up 26 yards. But he also completed only six of 19 passes, was sacked twice and posted a 44.8 passer rating. He's a rookie, dude.
Ah, yes. He is just that. And a fine young talent at that. We don't have a problem with promoting Newton at the expense of the Bengals. Hell some fans might prefer the shadowed corner from which we can spring our claws into the unsuspecting NFL. But really. The story during Cincinnati's 24-7 win was the highlight on Cincinnati's rookies. A.J. Green literally dominated cornerback Chris Gamble and if not for a few misfires deep, Green could have posted over 100 yards receiving by half time. We're not being optimistic here. Green literally beat Gamble on every deep route he ran, sometimes 2-3 yards deep.
Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton posted a 107.5 passer rating, completing 11 of 17 passes for 130 yards passing in the first half. Of the quarterbacks expected to start the season or at least compete for the job (Newton, Blaine Gabbert, Colin Kaepernick), Dalton is posting the highest completion percentage with the best first down conversion rate.
This team is still young, there's a lot of growing pains that will happen from this point until the end of the season. And even though the Bengals beat a team that's struggling as much as the Panthers, I still feel better about this team today than I did last week.