After working out separately this week, both the Bengals offensive and defensive units will work out together today, according to the latest from the official media.
The non-league-sanctioned work-outs, organized by DT Domata Peko and OT Andrew Whitworth, allow the players to get together, do drills, run sprints, and otherwise act like employed professional football players. Plus they are getting that important “bonding” time, wherein they’ll develop that essential team chemistry and esprit de corps; that fickle and intangible abstract concept that proves more important than game-planning, athleticism, and talent. After all, it’s what’s now being blamed by many as the reason the team nose-dived in 2010.
So far it looks like the majority of the team is in attendance for these sessions, including particularly important guys for 2011 like Andy Dalton, Leon Hall, Carlos Dunlap, and Rey Maualuga.
That’s the good news.
That said, as a fan and observer I have the need (and, thanks to this site, the forum) to raise various points and concerns for general perusal:
First off, there’s the matter of maintaining order and control. Coaches keep these things organized, efficient, and orderly. Without them, who’s going to tell Adam Jones to hustle back for the next play? Who’s installing plays? Who’s going to break-up fights and quell egos? In short: who’s making the sausage? Perhaps most important, who is watching out for player safety? Which leads to my next point…
From a medical point of view, how is this being covered? The Bengals have a team of medical professionals present for every practice (such as they are—no snickering, please), and PBS is equipped with the latest in health technology including MRI machines and the like. What happens if—GOD FORBID—someone goes down? I’m not saying the players, as grown men, can’t take care of themselves. I’m just saying that a knee sprain could turn into a torn MCL without proper medical attention. Considering their bodies are their paychecks (presumably) and their bodies represent a major investment for the team (presumably), who is there to protect those dollar signs?
Thirdly, I’m concerned with the plays they are running. It’s a well-documented fact that the coaches cannot communicate with the players, so the players can only be reviewing last year’s playbook. Of course we know there is a new offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden who’s installing a West Coast attack. We can assume then that 90% or more of the content of Bratkowski’s 3-ring binders is now as useful as a roll of Charmin (not that it wasn’t already). I’m also quite sure that Mike Zimmer has some changes on the defensive side as well. How much more “de-programming” will the coaches have to do after these work-outs?
Lastly, I feel the need to point out that while the representatives for the former NFLPA are continuing to push the teams for more safety rules, limits on offseason contact and conditioning, fewer OTA’s and workouts, and of course, as much money as possible, these workouts represent the exact opposite of those stated goals. The players have no supervision, no limits to what they can do, no safety regulators around or medical expertise handy, and they’re doing it all at their own expense. Just sayin’.
Despite these concerns, I applaud the players for putting this together. Whit and Peko have proven that they are the TRUE leaders of the team, far more-so than Carson Palmer ever was. I wish them a productive and healthy set of sessions, and that they come out of them with the foundations of a championship season laid.
Meanwhile, back to the lawyers and the judges…