Over the past few days, the lack of any type of smart, rationale front office move has really made me nervous about the overall direction of this team. I've sunk into full-on panic mode. In the back of my head, I keep telling myself that there will be a quality team on the field this year. However, the more I think about it, the more nervous I am. In addition to that, I'm even more worried about where we'll be in the next few seasons. Here are some of my biggest worries.
Is Andy Dalton going to be a franchise QB?
A lot of his supporters cite his statistics in comparison with great QBs of the past and how favorably he's compared in his first two years to some of the greats QBs in league history. While I cannot dispute statistics, I don't think it's exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. As we all know, the league is more QB-friendly than it has ever been, and I think that has made Andy look better than he really has been. You know what else makes Andy look good? A.J. Green. More on that in a bit.
Maybe I'm just overreacting and he could still potentially blossom into something special. Only time will tell.
We clearly have two superstars on the team in A.J. Green and Geno Atkins. One good thing about them is that they are still on their rookie deals. An equally bad thing is that they are on their rookie contracts. When it comes time to sign them to new deals, as well as guys like Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, and Andy Dalton, I don't have a lot of confidence in our front office. I know in the past we've re-signed guys like Carson Palmer and Chad Johnson, but I don't feel that their levels of stardom were quite what we have in A.J. and Geno. These are both top-5 guys in the league without question, and I don't think Carson and Chad were quite at that level. With that said, they are going to command enormous deals. Will Mikey pull out the checkbook?
Even if Mikey is willing to pay up, what would compel A.J. to sign here as opposed to whatever free agent destination is hot that year? By all accounts, I think it's safe to say that he realizes how much he means to this team's offense, and how much better his individual statistics could be, and how much better he could be with a top-tier QB slinging him the ball. I know these things seem like very selfish assumptions, but put yourself in his shoes and think about it. Professional athletes care about two things, winning and getting paid, and rightly so. When an NFL player considers those two things, they probably visualize Mike Brown taking a big shit on both of them. There is no way players are oblivious to the practices demonstrated by this organization for over two decades.
I don't think many of you will disagree with me when I say that I don't like either the Geathers or Maualuga signings. What I dislike more than anything about both signings is the amount of money spent. Did someone in our front office really think that there is another team that would pay that price for either of those players? I don't believe for one second that there was a ton of demand for either of them.
Once you get past the money, then there are the players themselves. Geathers main job is to take snaps away from Carlos Dunlap. I don't want to underestimate his injury history, but to pay your fourth best defensive end that much is rather disconcerting.
Now on to everyone's favorite; Rey Maualuga. To say I didn't expect him back in stripes would be a bold-faced lie. However, I never expected him to have a snowball's chance in hell of coming back as a possible starting inside linebacker. There is no evidence whatsoever that he is going to be a competent inside linebacker. He played best as a strong side linebacker. It doesn't take any special ability to see that in my opinion. For some reason, the coaching staff feels differently and I can't see the reasoning behind it.
And while we're at it, let's sign the injury-plagued kicker instead of Josh Brown.
Stagnant front office
As each day has passed during free agency, we've been disappointed with each passing day. Not only have we failed to re-sign one of our most talented players, we've also managed to not make a legitimate run at a single legitimate player.
I understand the desire to build through the draft, and I cannot argue with its effectiveness. I just feel that when you have gaping holes on your team while you're trying to make a deep playoff run, there is SOME value in signing a proven commodity. The Bengals have had a gaping hole in the secondary. Despite some of my fellow fans love affair with Taylor Mays, there is not an answer for that position on the roster. As much as I'd love George Iloka to progress like he did on my Madden 13 career, the evidence just isn't there. As I scroll through current free agents, I see numerous guys I wouldn't mind seeing in our secondary instead of whatever cheap alternative we'll surely be watching. Yes, some of these guys are going to command a decent bit of money. What harm would it do to at least talk to them though?
Next up, Michael Johnson and Andre Smith. How do we not manage to iron out a deal with a player in Michael Johnson, who clearly wants to be in Cincinnati? Especially when you know how much of a headache Andre is going to be. Not only that, but I think it's fair to question Andre's motivation. What better way to resolve both issues by franchising him?
Is our defense as good as everyone thinks?
Clearly, our defense is our strength, and I don't dispute that in any way. What concerns me is that they perform great against offenses that aren't spectacular. Our six divisional games are not against great offenses. I know that Pittsburgh and Baltimore are not bad offensive teams, but they're not exactly New England or Denver either. Against a high-flying team like that, how much confidence do you have in them?
I honestly just needed to get a lot of that off of my chest. I'd like to see if my thoughts are in-line with some of yours, or if I just went totally batshit crazy. Despite this, I'm still hoping for the best. At the end of the day, our front office has way more experience than me, or any of you at this. The question is whether it's good or bad experience.
That's it for my debut post!