Every so often we'll run a Bengals round table amongst the writers, at least who is available at the time that we do an impromptu round table. The idea is to discuss, in a round table format, the issues facing the Cincinnati Bengals. Since some of these round tables take place over several hours (and in some cases throughout the day), we'll break them up and tightly grouped into the issues we discuss. This posting talks about the Bengals 1-1 start, Andy Dalton's performance against the Denver Broncos and, you guessed it, Jerome Simpson. As always at the end, provide your own opinion on the issues we discussed (though you probably already did with Simpson in other postings... just guessing).
Jason Garrison: If it was still the preseason, and I told you that the Bengals would be heading into week three with a 1-1 record and they'd be favored to win, would you have believed me or been surprised?
Josh Kirkendall: Not just surprised, I'd fire you for planting seeds for irrational optimism. Truth is I'm just as surprised as anyone that not only is this team 1-1, they're two points shy of being one of eight NFL teams to start the season undefeated. Though we made it a point earlier this year that the schedule heavily favors a good start to the season and we're seeing that. Don't you think it's one of the reasons why Bengals fans are more hopeful this year, even after a heart-breaking loss to the Broncos? [Editor's Note: Just had visions of a surprising winning season, following a heart-breaking loss to the Broncos after a four-win season]
Jason: Especially because even though the Bengals lost to the Broncos, Andy Dalton looked incredible. I think that has been the biggest surprise and the biggest thing that gives me hope for the season. I'm confident in Dalton's ability to get things done.
Josh: Not just his performance, but his demeanor. He's showing great leadership and composure during situations in which many rookies falter. Now he didn't score the game-winning touchdown or put the team in a position to make a more manageable field goal at the end of the game, but there was no doubt in my mind that this kid has the makings of being a true field general and that'll only grow as he blossoms.
Jason: I think what I liked the most about what he did in Denver is when I saw him walking up and down the bench talking up the rest of the offense, encouraging his guys. That's something that I didn't see much out of Carson Palmer. It shows true leadership. I also love the fact that his mistakes aren't interceptions or turnovers. ESPN has made a big deal about Cam Newton throwing over 400 yards in both of his first two games, but they should be giving a lot of credit to Dalton for not turning the ball over.
Josh: Dalton was on ESPN's newest show, NFL32, and they did acknowledge that while Cam Newton is producing the sexier headlines, Dalton is more productive. Best part of the interview was when they asked Dalton what he'd say if Carson Palmer showed up soon. Dalton's response was simply, "Hi, my name is Andy."
What is your take on the Jerome Simpson situation?
Josh: Simpson was excused from practice on Thursday to help with the investigation. I just don't see how he's not in some form of trouble; though Anthony Collins might be cleared. Regardless, it's not just disappointing another Bengals player got busted, it's disappointing that it was Simpson, who worked so hard for the last four years to be where he's at today.
Jason: I had (and still have) so much hope for Simpson and the combination of Simpson and A.J. Green looked so promising, but I also know that the situation Simpson is in looks really bad and I won't be surprised if he does get the book thrown at him, ending his time with the Bengals and possibly even his career. It's very disappointing.
Josh: We just have to see how this works itself out. There's too many unknowns that opens the door for so much speculation. Why wasn't he arrested, why did give consent to allow police to search the house if they didn't have a warrant, but most importantly, if Simpson did what we're reading that he allegedly did, why?
Jason: I am preparing for the worst, though. I hope Andre Caldwell steps up and plays like a madman because he's in the same situation as Simpson. Not the drug situation, the contract year situation.
Josh: My biggest concern with Caldwell is when he was granted a significant role in 2009, he was largely ineffective as the slot receiver; where the Bengals were planning on using him following Shipley's injury. When he moved out of the slot, he was very productive in the final three games last season -- especially the deep pass.
Jason: That's true. If Simpson does end up in legal trouble and off the team, Caldwell will likely take his place as the team's No. 2 receiver opposite of Green and could make a bigger impact. That would also open the door for a guy like Ryan Whalen, Brandon Tate or maybe Andrew Hawkins to play the slot receiver in Shipley's absence.
Josh: You have to believe that the team might look into free agency. In the past four days they lost their primary slot receiver in Jordan Shipley and now possibly their starting wide receiver Jerome Simpson. And I don't think Armon Binns will be the answer. Though I think Marvin Lewis may be content with a A.J. Green, Caldwell, Brandon Tate and Andrew Hawkins lineup; though that just seems weak to me right now.
Jason: It does. Being a UC fan, I wouldn't mind if they brought former Bearcat receiver Mardy Gilyard in for a workout or signed him as a new slot receiver. I loved Gilyard when he was at UC and I know he was a fan favorite.
Josh: Wouldn't be surprised if they give him a look next Tuesday; days they typically invite players in for a workout. Though can Gilyard come in, understand the playbook and do it well? Or is he just an athletic beast that will take two months to get ready?
Jason: I'm not sure, but I know that I'll definitely be rooting for him to be signed and to be successful on the field.
Josh: Well I would hope that you'd root for a Bengals player to be successful.