For the past several weeks, I've been purging my possessions to prepare for a small migration North (calm down, I mean Dayton, not Cleveland). I have a lot of stuff. People call me a pack-rat. But they're ignorant. I admit with a small measure of indignation (nothing wacko-NASA girl crazy), my place resembles a storage shed with stacks of Sports Illustrated, Mad, ESPN, Sporting News and a gobbligook amount of political magazines. Actually, I have more political magazines than sports magazines. So to say there's a lot of crap around, is an understatement. I grab a big stack and dump them into my 55-gallon trash bag, approved by NASA, to prevent tearing. I have no need for them other than collectibles (i.e., covers of Bengals players or major sporting/world-wide events). Although, those Pamela Anderson playboys will somehow make the move, I just know it!
I have old college books, empty liquor bottles (think decoration), boot legged Metallica concert videos and the entire Cheech and Chong movie collection. OK, twist my arm why don't you. I'll keep the Cheech and Chong videos but the college books MUST go.
But I also come across old Bengals articles I wrote when I burst onto the blogging scene like a star on Broadway five years ago. Just indulge me.
In 2003, I did my own Nostradamus/Jedi trick. Well, it's still yet to materialize, but I believed the Bengals would make the Super Bowl in 2007. After 2005, I was excited my visions would actually come true. For real. Me? No doubt.
Then 2006. After watching the disappointments multiply, I thought I was like every other joker that fled West searching for trees full of gold, after hearing about it, three months ago, while watching thousands and thousands of people get there first. But I go anyway, you know, just in case. So I predict again, Bengals... Super Bowl... 2007.
How on Earth?
Things have been very subtle this off-season, but things have most definitely changed. We replaced a six-year backup substitute teaching safety with a young hard hitting 24-year old. Will Marvin White roam centerfield like Kevin Kaesviharn? Not at first. But there's no reason to think that White couldn't be better than Kaesviharn. And it's not like White would be a starter (dude shut up -- Dexter Jackson hasn't played more than 12 games in any season since 2003). OK, good point, crazy inside voice.
So presuming that Madieu Williams and Marvin White start, while Jackson is hurt, who else is left on the depth chart? John Busing, H.D. Jones, Ethan Kilmer and Chinedum Ndukwe.
We've also changed the complexion at defensive tackle. We let Shaun Smith sign with Cleveland (shows you how much value the Bengals held of him) while signing Michael Myers and Kenderick Allen. We cut Sam Adams, likely promoting Domata Peko as the starting defensive tackle opposite John Thornton. We drafted Matt Toeaina to... well, add some youth I suppose. Defensive tackles has completely changed. Is it better? Will it fruit the same berries we've seen? Who knows. Geoff Hobson admits the defense against the run wasn't so bad. Best summed up, it was "average", "middle"... all I know is that is wasn't something to get giddy over; nor was it something to saturate your beer with manly power tears.
The Bengals have worked hard at upgrading linebackers. Ahmad Brooks (so, we've been told), Ed Hartwell and either Landon Johnson or Rashad Jeanty are likely the starters. Eric Henderson WILL make a difference in the next two seasons as he does a David Pollack (moving from DL to LB). Earl Everett gives off that feeling that he may start at some point down the road... and not because of injury. Odell Thurman may yet turn from the Dark Side.
Adding Leon Hall as the first pick, opposite last year's first pick Johnathan Joseph, has me giddy. Likely O'Neal will start and Hall would ease onto the field at nickel. Not a bad scenario, if you ask me... which you didn't.
This defense has changed. The starters are mostly the same except for Adams, Brian Simmons and Tory James -- older guys making way for younger guys.
However, there's a lot of turnover. A lot of youth replacing experience. The talent on this team is good... but I'm starting to fear that my Nostradamus vision won't come true.