Another Bengals offseason and another filled with quarterback discussions. The line in the sand about Andy Dalton has never been more defined among the fan base as it is now, given the new coaching regime that has taken power.
For years, the Bengals’ plan with Dalton was to constantly surround him with above-average-to-elite talent. While he himself has proven to play at an above-average level, it’s usually when the cabinet is stockpiled with weaponry. In fact, one of the main criticisms of Dalton is in his play being raised by that of others, instead of the opposite being more commonplace.
Back in 2015, the team had its zenith of talent on offense. Cincinnati’s offensive line was solid, while A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu parlayed their performances into big free agency paydays the following spring. Shortly after, Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth, the two best players on the offensive line, also bolted in free agency. Throw in an abject failure of a 2015 draft class and we can see where things have fallen off a cliff the past three seasons, in terms of wins and losses.
Dalton played admirably through personnel issues and eventual injuries in 2017-2018, but he hasn’t regained that near-MVP form of 2015. Essentially, the Bengals have done a disservice to their starting quarterback and have shied away from their blueprint from 2011-2014.
But, the past is in the past, right?
The Browns have added Kareem Hunt and Odell Beckham, Jr. on offense, along with Olivier Vernon on defense. Yes, they lost Zeitler in the trade for Vernon, but Hunt and Beckham join 2018 offseason additions Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry. In short, Baker Mayfield is one happy camper, as the Cleveland Browns are now the unanimous favorite to win the AFC North.
Josh Allen didn’t have as outstanding of a rookie year as Mayfield, but showed certain signs of promise. While weapons were limited last year, Buffalo has added the ageless Frank Gore, as well as Cole Beasley and former Bengals tight end, Tyler Kroft. It’s not as star-studded of a group as the one Cleveland landed, but the point stands in both club doing what they can in propping up their quarterbacks for future success.
Meanwhile, in Cincinnati, a team that has compiled a 19-28-1 record the past three seasons, seems content with the status quo. On one hand, it’s a sage strategy because of the talent and/or potential in the grouping of Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross and Joe Mixon.
Also clouding things is the contract statuses of both Boyd and Green. The team’s top-two wideouts are set to be free agents in 2020, potentially handicapping Dalton’s long-term future with the Bengals.
On the other, the team initially seemed hell-bent on fielding the exact same below-average offensive line—at least at this moment in time. Alex Redmond was tendered an offer as a restricted free agent, while the Bengals signed Bobby Hart to an infamous contract at the onset of free agency.
But, on Friday, the Bengals signed John Miller to another three-year deal to potentially lock down the right guard spot. While it seems as if he’ll be an upgrade over Redmond, it could be nothing more than a marginal one.
These moves, or lack thereof, come on the heels of Zac Taylor proclaiming his allegiance to Dalton going forward. To some, those words may seem a little hollow, based upon the team’s predictable actions early in free agency.
Basically, it seems as if the Bengals are content in believing the theory that they’ll be better in 2019 because of improved roster health and a coaching turnover. Those aspects couldn’t hurt going forward, but a few days into free agency, they haven’t drastically improved any positions—rather just re-sign their own to bigger deals and letting others walk.
The draft has yet to play out, but the Bengals don’t seem to be a team that will readily be in the mix as the 2019 season nears. The Hart and Preston Brown signings also lessen the likelihood that the team goes linebacker or tackle at No. 11, so rumblings about a new quarterback being in play have started to surface. So, maybe that’s the plan?
Then again, maybe we’re just clamoring for a different approach with this new staff.
Also on this week’s show:
- Just how are the Bengals’ contracts constructed and are the players they’ve res-signed worthy of those deals?
- Though the trio of Preston Brown, C.J. Uzomah and Bobby Hart don’t move the national needle, they have filled three starting spots.
- Why are the Bengals not big players in outside free agency? How much does their usual contract structures play into their inactivity?
- A Bengals favorite Twitter follow in Andre Perrotta joined the show to talk about the salary cap and other contract structures.
- Is the team content with rolling out the same five starters on the offensive line from an up-and-down 2018 group?
- Is it time to trade A.J. Green?
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