After years of becoming accustomed to the Bengals operating in a certain fashion, the news that rookie offensive lineman Michael Jordan would be starting at left guard for Cincinnati when the team starts the season in Seattle Week 1, shocked many fans and writers.
One person it didn’t shock was his father, who says his son has been counted out ever since he’s played football, but that never stopped Michael from making his dreams a reality.
“Every one of those ‘Naysayers,’ were proven wrong,” Jordan’s father, Kevin Michael Jordan (who also goes by Michael), wrote to Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “After he continued to overcome adversity time after time, it didn’t shock us anymore.”
That just shows the kind of mindset Jordan has displayed throughout his life. He lets his play do all the talking, and by the results, it is clear how talented he is.
It isn’t far fetched to say that when Clint Boling retired this offseason, not many gave Jordan a shot at filling the vacant spot along the offensive line. With veteran players like John Jerry, who had experience with offensive line coach Jim Turner, and Christian Westerman, who had been pegged as a player who should have been starting during the Marvin Lewis era, the smart money would’ve been on one of those two. In fact those two got the first shot at running with the first team offense, but Jordan’s talents were still well on display.
“Mike can be as good as he wants to be. There’s no denying that,” Jerry said. “Not too many people in this league come in as young as Mike. He’s definitely mature. Smart guy. Tough. He does things the right way. Very consistent. I’m looking forward to seeing that guy get out there.”
Jerry has been quite the addition this spring. He also has been helping Jordan with any questions the rookie has had, which can’t be understated how valuable that is to have especially with losing a veteran like Boling.
One of the best things about Jordan already proving he is capable of starting is the possibility of this being the start of a long career that can only get better. That is one thing that has Turner excited, but even he admits that this was never the plan when they drafted Jordan in the fourth round.
“He’s the guy that we think can help us win right now against the Seahawks at left guard,” Turner said. “People forget but Mike could spend another year in college Mike is 21 years old. He jumped out at us on tape at Ohio State. I went up there and interviewed him. The scouts loved him, I loved him and obviously he was the right decision. He’s just very smart, very physical and he’s ready to play.”
It is just refreshing to hear that the Bengals had an actual open competition that allowed the best player in their eyes to earn a starting role. There is no question that if Lewis was still in charge we wouldn’t have Miller starting Week 1. I mean we saw running back Joe Mixon fail to start a game behind Jeremy Hill during his rookie season until Hill was placed on Injured Reserve.
It is just a breath of fresh air that the coaching staff was very open about this competition and how it unfolded. They also leave the door open for players to out work the starters, which does nothing but keep the starters motivated to keep their level of play high enough so their spot remains safe. It seems like an obvious thing, but we haven’t seen this in a pretty long time.
Fortunately for fans, coaches and Jordan, this all came together at the perfect time. Then again, you could argue Jordan has earned his own luck throughout his football career, and the Bengals are just fortunate they had a coaching staff willing to play the best player.