Chad Johnson hasn't changed, he still wants out and it's only a matter of time before he acts up again.
This statement has about as much truth as one off-season. Saying that Johnson wasn't happy during last year's off-season would be an understatement. However, to say that his character suicide campaign was a lone act, would also be an understatement. To drive home exactly what that means, we said these words last year, "Chad Johnson is Oil Slick's puppet." Oil Slick of course meaning his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. When Johnson came to camp last year, he slowly integrated himself within the team (ironically, when Rosenhaus left to deal with Plaxico Burress contract issues), and used very sedated language with the media. It was then we learned that the local media just wants to know the problems with the team, while the national media (a-hum ESPN) wanted teenage gossip.
Johnson's frustrations, however, were never his alone. They were the same talking points fans had; this team doesn't put pieces in place for a long-term winner; instead they pray on aberration seasons like 2005. Granted, we didn't like how he addressed it. Public Relations and players being headline stories are things that we're a bit sensitive about. However, he did speak truth; I've always granted him that.
It's why I believe him now; when he says he's here to stay, and the realistic chance that this team can make the playoffs. I believe that they can next year, they have enough starting talent to make that run. They just don't have the overall talent more successful teams have because our depth gets us into too much trouble.
Maybe Chad will become a Chatty Cathy again; it would be foolish to suggest he won't. However like last year, I believe him and his optimism that the Bengals can make the playoffs, and that he's on board to help get that done.
The Bengals will draft a running back or wide receiver in the first round.
Typically my reaction to these claims, is that those who make them aren't aware of the team's roster or personnel issues. Granted, there is a scenario that exists in which the Bengals could be left with DeDe Dorsey (RFA), James Johnson, Kenny Watson and Chris Perry as their only running backs; a collection of third-down backs. Of that group, Watson is the only back with sustained success as the feature back. This scenario happens if Cedric Benson decides to sign elsewhere.
However, we strongly believe that Benson will sign with the Bengals for several reasons.
- Free agent running backs are one of the lowest demanded positions because their life expectancy is the lowest at any position.
- Even if teams look for a back in free agency, Benson will have to compete with Brandon Jacobs, Kevin Jones, Derrick Ward, Darren Sproles, Dominic Rhodes and a collection of backs that could be rated just as high as Benson. Granted, guys like Jacobs, Sproles and Ward are more likely to remain with their existing team one way or another; however, they're the elite guys and Benson has many running backs that are free agency with his same qualities. Note: for those of you that have issue with me mentioning Jones and Rhodes with those three quality backs, I'm merely pointing out there's a lot of backs that could service respective teams like Benson would.
- While not elite, the draft usually has a good collection of feature backs that can help teams -- some late in the draft.
- With ways of acquiring talent at running back, teams could be picky regarding Benson's history of character issues -- we don't agree with this anymore because he's shown to be nothing but a professional in Cincinnati. However, teams could shy away because of the history.
- There's really no choice for the Bengals. Benson is a proven commodity in this system, and the Bengals must use their draft pick for a position that would build the offensive line's foundation; or the growing momentum of the team's defensive efforts.
Draft a wide receiver in the first round actually makes less sense to us; specifically drafting Michael Crabtree to replace the departing T.J. Houshmandzadeh. I go back to last year's draft (again), and the three wide receivers we drafted as well as Maurice Purify signing on as a college free agent. Acquiring four wide receivers is evident that the Bengals were projecting Houshmandzadeh leaving town, if not including a Chad Johnson trade. Note: I'm not supporting that the Bengals should let Houshmandzadeh leave -- they should still make every effort to bring him back. This is merely pointing out that the Bengals shouldn't draft a wide receiver IF Houshmandzadeh leaves.
However, the issues that the offense faced wouldn't be fixed by drafting a very talented wide receiver. Carson Palmer is still threatened while dropping back, which ended in a season-ending injury to his elbow, and a bloody nose during preseason. There's no reason to believe he won't get hurt again. It wasn't until the late-season rushing offense when the Bengals moved the ball with any consistency. Drafting a wide receiver in the first round isn't just illogical and pointless to the team's personnel issues; it wouldn't even help.
There's two positions that the Bengals shouldn't draft this year; safety being one, wide receiver being the other -- yes, we support a late-second day draft pick of a backup quarterback; better than Jeff Rowe, of course.