With Bengals fans and sponsors non-scientifically proven to be at an all time low in terms of enthusiasm for the coming season after the greatest series of offseason public relations fiascos an organization could possibly provide, Mike Brown must have finally taken all of the savings they have stashed away since the new stadium deal and finally put together the finest team that money can buy. Then I saw Monday's depth chart.
With the team approximately $27 million under the cap, significant pressure to win back the hearts and minds of the fans after the greatest offseason ever, and Mike Brown committed to the "highest quality of football", the Bengals went on a spending spree acquiring the following players:
Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski (Raiders) agreed to a two-year contract. (7/27)
Linebacker Thomas Howard (Raiders) agreed to a two-year, $6.5 million contract. (7/28)
Running Back Brian Leonard (Bengals) agreed to a two-year deal. (7/29)
Safety Gibril Wilson (Bengals) signed a one-year contract. (7/30)
Cornerback Nate Clements (49ers) signed an undisclosed contract. (7/30)
Running back Cedric Benson (Bengals) agreed to a two-year contract. (7/31)
Linebacker Manny Lawson (49ers) agreed to a one0year, $3 million deal. (8/2)
Guard Max Jean-Gilles (Eagles) agreed to a one-year, $1.15 million contract. (8/2)
Linebacker Brandon Johnson (Bengals) agreed to terms. (8/3)
Safety Donte Whitner (Bills) agreed to a two-year deal. (8/4) - whoops...
Tight End Bo Scaife (Titans) agreed to terms. (8/5)
This is not a serious investment to improve the quality of one's team, this is an All-Star lineup of a dumpster dive team (excluding Brian Leonard of course).
At the start of free agency, the team's biggest needs were OL, SLB, & safety. Using Mike Brown's tested and proven management strategies not one was seriously addressed, rather the organization doubled down on their "panning for gold" strategy.
They passed on all of the top rated OG's in free agency and closed a deal on a guy that ate more food than Moobs could ever have dreamed of. That man was Deuce Lutui, who subsequently failed his physical and was forced to return to Arizona; leaving Nate Livings as the incumbent starter. I guess they deserve credit for at least calling to "inquire" about Robert Galley... To make matters worse, according to recent reports they have taken this year's solid draft pick (and presently our only hope to dethrone Mr. Livings), Clint Boling, and now have him working at center. This smells like Evan Mathis 2.0. Who is Livings blowing to keep his starting spot? As I wrote almost a month ago, it looks as if Dalton will not be given a chance to succeed behind this patchwork of an OL.
At the LB spots, they brought in Howard and Lawson. Both are upgrades to what we had, but that is not saying much since we didn't even have a true SLB on the roster. Both are former high draft picks that never developed on their former teams. In essence they are fillers, not coveted upgrades like the defense desperately needs. Howard has since been moved to WLB to cover for Rivers who must have developed carpel tunnel during the lock out.
At safety, again they did not pursue any of the top safeties in the market even though they are in desperate need for two of them. Instead Brown struck a one-year deal with a guy that has potential, but is also trying to rebound from blowing his knee out last year. However Taylor Mays is still available via trade. Mays is a guy I have confidence that Zimmer could develop, but this may require Carson Palmer being invloved. On top of this, they let one of their top defenders leave because they were too damn cheap, and he was too smart to know to get out of this organization while he had the chance. To fill in the spot, they pick up an 11-year veteran who is known for his ability to get beat deep, ala the infamous Toast Jones.
To start it all off, they finally make the right move and fire a terrible offensive coordinator four years to late. But then they pass on well respected, proven, and successful coordinators like Josh McDaniels and Mike Heimerdinger, and bring in Gruden - except it is the one you never heard of before.
While it is refreshing to not have to worry about Bratkowski's idiotic play calling ever again and there are glimmers of hope from the articles on the interweb, there are reasons for new concerns. Within Hobson’s articles there are plenty of red flags being thrown around, such as: as the offense is so simple, Jerome Simpson picked it up in a week (the same Jerome Simpson who took three years to understand Brat's scheme - I assume he must have gone to Sylvan during the lockout); Dalton keeps having to correct the coordinator’s formation calls (keep in mind Gruden has been working in the system much longer than Dalton's one week); or the fact that Gruden has never played a chess match against quality opponents like a Dick LeBeau.
All of these 1990's type shenanigans are an excellent reminder why Bengals fans deserve a GM rather than Brown's cheap and inept management, but then I read this:
Courtesy of the PFT hyperblog: Bears fans were hoping heading into free agency that the team would make a signing or two to improve the offensive line. As it turned out, the offensive line took what most see as a step backward, not adding any starters other than center Chris Spencer, who replaces the departed Olin Kreutz.
Bears G.M. Jerry Angelo, however, says he stands by the line he’s put together. “We made our bed,” Angelo told the Chicago Tribune. “We have to make it work. You can’t have stars at every position. It doesn’t work that way.”
The concerns of Bears fans aren’t about having stars, however. The concerns are that the line is no better this year than it was last year, when Jay Cutler was sacked 52 times.
The fantastic decision-making taking place up in Chicago led by GM Jerry Angelo sounds exactly like Mike Brown logic. The moral of the story, maybe we need to be careful what we wish for...