The Cincinnnati Bengals are in the New York Giants' crosshairs this weekend. That means Josh Kirkendall of SB Nation's Bengals' blog, Cincy Jungle, is in mine.
I'll be honest, the 0-2 Bengals haven't been good. In fact, they haven't been good for several seasons now. In this week's '5 Questions' segment, I didn't skirt around that topic. I tried to get Josh to talk about why the Bengals have been so bad for so long.
He didn't back away from the topic, and it made for an interesting interview.
1. Big Blue View: This is long-winded, but, I read the following quote on kypost.com. "They can't get the right number of players on the field. The offense can't get into the end zone. The defense? Another sad story. Around Cincinnati, it's yesterday once more. The bad old days have returned for a franchise that thought it had finally escaped them." Question: I know the Bengals are 0-2, but are things really that bad?
Cincy Jungle: If you base conclusions on the team’s efforts, excuses, press conferences, and attitude, there are disturbing parallels. However, it’s generally a fear of repeating history, losing as badly as we have, rather than a trend that this team will become the once-again historically painful losers. As before, the team doesn’t have any leadership, or guys that other players lean on to motivate them. That’s the most significant similarity to the "bad old days". The biggest difference is that this team is more talented and on paper have the potential to do great things. However, potential is about as valuable in the NFL as used toilet paper.
2. BBV: Carson Palmer's numbers are awful through two games. A 37.1 quarterback rating. Only 49% completions. No touchdowns. Three picks. What is up with that? Is this guy really a star, or he is overrated?
Jungle: Neither. Give him a good offensive line, where he’s not worried about having his knee ripped to shreds or having a bloody broken nose, he’ll pick you apart all day long; provided the wide receivers actually get separation in their routes and the play-calling calls for shorter passes (three-step variety). The Bengals offense is mired with awful play-calling adjustments, a mediocre rushing offense, and simply a bunch of talented leaderless players too damned concerned about contracts and changing last names.
I’m not letting Palmer fully off the hook here. This team not having a leader to rally the troops, I place squarely on Palmer’s shoulders.
People often disagree with me on my assessment; Palmer can only do as well as the talent around him. While that’s true, Palmer is also the type of talent that he should make everyone else around him better. And that’s simply not showing.
Passing Rushing Sacks G Rating Comp Att Pct Yds Y/G Y/A TD INT Rush Yds Y/G Avg TD Sack YdsL 2008 - Carson Palmer 2 37.1 25 51 49.0 228 114.0 4.5 0 3 3 15 7.5 5.0 0 3 17
3. BBV: Tell us a little bit about this team. We know Palmer. We know Ocho. We know about T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Tell us about some other players we should be aware of.
To be honest, the part of this team that I’m high on is the defense (I know, of all things, right?). We won’t shut people down, won’t get six sacks in a game, or will we force five turnovers. In the past couple of seasons, this defense was known for losing games. The biggest difference is that we acquired enough talent to revise the opinion that, while the defense won’t win us games, they won’t lose them either.
With that said, we have two second-year safeties that are fun to watch. Marvin White is a nasty hitter, though the failure to wrap has been a frustration. Chinedum Ndukwe has been a play maker, and plays with good intensity. We also have two first-round cornerbacks in Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph (not expected to play Sunday); these guys are talented enough to be put on an island, allowing for added blitzes and congested underneath coverage in zones. Keith Rivers has performed as advertised as the team’s weak-side linebacker and defensive end Antwan Odom put more pressure on the quarterback against the Titans than we’ve seen from a single player since Robert Geathers’ 10.5 sacks in 2006.
While I’m high on the defense this year, we haven’t played a quality offense yet in the Ravens or Titans. So the Giants offense against the Bengals defense will be really interesting. However, since we lost Johnathan Joseph to an ankle sprain last week, the Giants will probably have their way with backup David Jones likely getting the start.
4. BBV: The Giants are defending Super Bowl champs and are trying for a fourth straight playoff berth. The Bengals, as a franchise, can't seem to get themselves headed in the right direction. Can you put your finger on a difference between the two organizations?
Jungle: The Bengals have a meddling owner that truly believes he inherited his father’s football genes, no general manager, the league’s smallest scouting department, etc. I could go on, but me eyes are getting puffy.
5. BBV: OK, last question. I think BBV fans would be disappointed if I didn't ask it, since I always do. If you could pick one player (or coach or executive since last week's choice was Tom Coughlin) off the Giants roster and bring him to Cincinnati who would it be? Why?
Jungle: Brandon Jacobs. We need a power back after we released Rudi Johnson. Chris Perry, Kenny Watson and DeDe Dorsey aren’t power backs; they’re more scat backs that live better off the edges than between the tackles.
Tom Coughlin was a thought too. If you remember, before Coughlin was hired by the Giants, the Bengals front office actually favored him before Mike Brown was convinced by his daughter to take Marvin Lewis. But I shook the thought; no head coach can expect to succeed in these conditions or circumstances.
Yet, we love our Bengals in Cincinnati.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I love Josh's honesty here about the state of the Bengals and the reasons why they have generally been bottom-feeders in recent times. ... I was a little stunned by his assessment of Carson Palmer, who many have always thought of as a superstar. I have always wanted to know what he had done to deserve that billing, and it seems Josh isn't sure his team's QB is any better than average. When he talked about "give him a good offensive line ... he'll pick you apart" I could have sworn he was talking about Kurt Warner. ... As for who he would take off the Giants' roster, it speaks volumes that Coughlin was a consideration for the second consecutive week.
Head on over to Cincy Jungle to see what they are saying about Sunday. Josh asked me to do a "when the Giants have the ball ... when the Bengals have the ball" type review. I'm sure you will enjoy it.