There is still one more game to be played in the 2010 Bengals season. It can be considered an important game I guess. The Bengals are going to want to beat the Ravens for the second time this season to complete a second consecutive sweep of the Ravens. Other than that, there really is nothing left that the Bengals are playing for. Some people hope the Bengals will lose to get a higher draft pick, but I have never been one to root for my team to lose in order to improve the draft position.
However, you can be sure that important decisions are being pondered right now and could be known as soon as hours after Sundays game. Below I will go over some of the major ones along with my thoughts.
If you would have asked me a few weeks ago if I thought the Bengals should bring back Marvin Lewis, I would have been in the camp to let him walk. I actually thought Mike Brown should have fired Marvin at times this season. Not so much because I thought Marvin was the problem, I just wanted to see some rise from the Bengals front office to show the fans that they actually do give a damn about what was happening on the field this season.
I have changed my mind on this issue now. I think Marvin Lewis should be the coach of the Bengals. Of course, I hope it is because Mike Brown realized he is a football moron and allowed Lewis or dare I say it, a GM, the ability to make the personnel decisions. Even if that is not the reason, a case can be made that Marvin has made somewhat of a culture shift in the Bengals team and fans eyes. Yes this season was a huge disappointment, but last season the Bengals were division champs. The 2 division championships in 4 seasons could be the start of marked improvement for the Bengals organization in the future. Again, I don’t think from what we have seen that would be a rational opinion, but maybe in the next 4 years and a couple more division championships won, the Bengals could turn the corner?
My hope is Mike Brown relinquishes some control of the football decisions and focuses on the business side. Marvin Lewis could be a successful coach in a situation like that for the Bengals. This is a decision the fans should know fairly soon. With all of the turnover this season for coaches, if the Bengals are going to make a change, they are going to have to announce it soon.
If the game ends on Sunday at 3:51 this dude should be handed his pink slip at 3:52. 10 seasons of watching this guy fuck up the Bengals offense is enough.
Should he stay or should he go? I am a Carson Palmer fan, but there were many games this year he played like shit. Some can be blamed on wrong routes and pressure, but there were times when Palmer was just bad. However, just when you think the guy has mailed it in he comes back with 2 games in a row where he looks all pro. In one he finishes with the highest passer rating of his career.
Carson proved that he can still be that top tier QB even with some young receivers. I say keep him, maybe renegotiate the contract so that the 11 million does not hurt so much next year but either way, if I run the Bengals, Carson is still my quarterback.
Next let’s look at the free agents for the Bengals beginning with the unrestricted:
Here is the order I would attack these free agents with the first listed being the ones I would want to sign the most.
CB Jonathan Joseph
- JJ is a top tier corner and the chemistry he has with Leon Hall is awesome. I have a ton of confidence in the Bengals secondary if they are able to keep JJ, Hall and Jones as their top 3 corners.
RB Cedric Benson
- Cedric is a workhorse that has done nothing except earn the respect of his teammates and busting over 1000 yds while playing for the Bengals. He is a strong every down back that only needs to improve his ball security to stay one of the top backs in the AFC.
OG Evan Mathis
- Whether he starts or fills in a backup roll, the Bengals offensive line is playing great football and the key to sustained success in the NFL is a good line that knows how to play together. The Bengals are building this and would do well to keep it in tact.
LB Dhani Jones
- Some see a guy who has lost a step, I see an on field coach that again leads the team in tackles. Sure, some of that comes with the position, but the guy knows the game and consistently is in the right place to stop the opposing team.
RB Brian Leonard
- A firecracker as a third down back that has made some huge plays in his short Bengals career. Don’t overpay but this is a good guy to have around.
S Chinedum Ndukwe
S Gibril Wilson
- The Bengals are weak at safety, this is one position I hope is improved this offseason but these two should be considered to stick around if the price is not too high.
DE Jonathan Fanene
- The ability to rotate on the defensive line is huge, while he may be outshined by some of the younger talent, he still has some production in him I think.
LB Brandon Johnson
- Here is a guy who is usually solid when asked to fill in and is great on special teams. With the current line backing core of the Bengals, he is a solid player to keep for depth.
TE Reggie Kelly
S Roy Williams
WR Terrell Owens
- These three are gone as far as I am concerned. TO had a good year for the Bengals and was just as frustrated with the teams direction as the fans. Reggie Kelley is a highly respected player but the tight end position for the Bengals is one that they have a bunch of depth in now. With Roy, I think it is time to get younger at the position.
Then there are some restricted free agents the Bengals need to consider, again listed in the order that they should be signed:
C Kyle Cook
OG Nate Livings
OT Dennis Roland
- All 3 of these guys should be signed for the same reasons listed above. The offensive line is getting better and the continuity that the same group of guys can bring could bode well for the Bengals in the next couple of seasons.
QB Jordan Palmer
- I think this is tough, while the Bengals should probably think of having a better quality backup on the roster, it may be tough to let the brother of your starter walk. Maybe it will be easier losing him to free agency over cutting him outright.
Last there is the issue of Chad Ochocinco. I am still on the fence on this one. Let me start by saying I like Chad Ochocinco. Most of the people that claim he is a distraction to the team were the same people praising him when the Bengals were winning and he was bringing fun to the NFL. I would be happy if the Bengals brought him back, but not for the 6 million he would need to be paid to be here. Not that I don’t think he can command that kind of money on the market of the NFL, it is just I think the Bengals have a lot of talent at the wide receiver position and putting so much money into another receiver when quality guys are on the bench does not make sense. If Chad is traded or released I will be a little sad. This is a guy that made people notice the Bengals for something positive when the Bengals were doing nothing positive on the field and for that he should be celebrated. I would miss his sideline catches in Cincinnati if he leaves.