James Walker points out five issues that the Bengals need to address this off-season; "clarity" on Carson Palmer, decisions on veteran wide receivers and Cedric Benson, changing the coaching staff (primarily questioning Bob Bratkowski) and the obvious main two; NFL draft and free agency. Solid foundations for the stories of interest this off-season -- most of which we've already addressed.
Shifting the thought about the 2009 Draft. Dave (Stripe Hype) suggests that the Bengals should look at drafting Brian Orakpo; while addressing the offensive line in the second and third round. Then I saw this SportsCenter piece Orakpo. Considered a speed rusher, his strength, often times overwhelms tackles. Some attributes, Bench, 515. Squat, 600-plus. Power-clean, 380.
ESPN Scouts rank Orakpo as the 12th best player coming out; however the third best defensive end with Aaron Maybin (Penn State) and Everette Brown (Florida State) ranked ahead of him. With ten sacks this year, the 2008 Bronko Nagurski award winner seems like a good pick for a play-making defense end. Also consider, that names like Glenn Dorsey, James Laurinatis, Terrell Suggs, Roy Williams, Champ Bailey, Charles Woodson and Warren Sapp have all won the defensive player of the year award.
Will that be enough to convince the overwhelming opinion that the Bengals should draft an offensive lineman in the first two rounds? I'm not so sure.
No, no, no. We adamantly disagree that Joey Porter and his posse of butt-shooting thugs ambushing Levi Jones a few off-seasons ago, is any reason to cheer for the Dolphins. Porter was a clown with the Steelers, and he's been an ass all season. Examples include (but not limited to): Defending Plaxico Burress and Michael Vick, inciting a fight against the Patriots (all smack talk that he was suddenly absent when the fight broke out), disobeying head coach Tony Sparano for refusing to come out of the game, calling Brandon Marshall gay, questioning why Matt Jones wasn't suspended, ripping a pee-wee head coach... all since November.
However, we are finding our reasons to root for the Dolphins for obvious reasons. Going from 1-15 to AFC East champions is the biggest. We hope the Dolphins go a long way, if for anything, to upset the establishment and all that's wonderful with NFL parity; which we learned this year is only as awesome as the team's front office allows.
Changing playoffs. One thing that's always prevalent with writers (bloggers, MSM alike) is that there's no call for change, until there's one specific scenario that arises. For example, everyone had the opinion that ties in the NFL shouldn't exist. In truth, they didn't for nearly six years. The latest demand for change is the playoff structure in which teams gain a playoff berth. Why the 11-5 Patriots are watching from home, while the 8-8 San Diego Chargers are hosting a playoff game, is gaining idealism.
Some suggest that the best six teams, no matter the division, should get a spot. The top two seeds have the bye week and respective home field advantage. Others suggest that even if you win your division, it doesn't secure at least one home game. For that reason, we actually agree with Peter King -- for the first time in seven years -- who suggests, if a Wild Card team has a better record, or won head-to-head during the season, that that team should have the home game, not the 8-8 division winner.