We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2009 fantasy football questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2009 Bengals Fantasy Football Preview comes courtesy of Cincy Jungle.
1. I’ve always been a big proponent of Carson Palmer. With the subtraction of the extremely consistent T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the addition of Laveranues Coles, the unpredictability of Ochocinco, the potential of Chris Henry, and Palmer’s presumably 100% healed elbow, can we expect a resurgent passing game this year?
Obviously a lot will have to do with the dynamics involved with the receivers. You mentioned Coles and Henry. There’s also Chad Johnson’s return and the younger receivers like Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson. In Caldwell’s case, he appears to be Houshmandzadeh’s natural replacement in the slots. There’s a lot of dynamics at work.
Still, we don’t believe the issue is with our receivers. Last year, Palmer’s elbow kept him out for the year and he suffered a beaten and bloody nose against the Saints in the preseason. The issue with the team’s offense is pass protection. Palmer needs the time to go through his reads, similar to when the Bengals had a high-octane pass offense and one of the league’s best offensive lines. The Bengals will have four new starters, or players starting at new positions, compared to the 2008 starting lineup on the offensive line. There still could be a lot of growing pains and that would directly impact our passing game and dramatically slow any resurgence.
2. Cedric Benson had a few fantasy worthy games toward the end of the season. Is he the answer at running back or are you hoping the buzz surrounding Bernard Scott and his athleticism manifests into on the field production?
Cincinnati views Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott as a potential one-two punch with Brian Leonard taking on back-up duties to the Benson. Reportedly in the best shape of his career and completely motivated, Benson will obviously get the bulk of the carries. Reports out of OTA say that Scott’s acceleration through the line and around the corners impresses everyone within the organization. Scott’s third-down attributes are also well known and could be where his talents are realized the most. I believe that the Bengals will keep their roles exclusive from each other. In other words, Scott won’t rush on first downs and Benson won’t rush on third down with more than three yards to go.
3. What offensive player do you think will perform above and beyond expectations this year? I’m sure many are looking at Chris Henry to break out at some point, but are we missing a sleeper somewhere in the Bengals’ offense?
One Cincinnati beat writer wrote that Chris Henry and Andre Caldwell could become the new Chad Johnson/T.J. Houshmandzadeh duo for the next decade. Henry has the talent and size to bring down any pass anywhere on the field. Caldwell showed at the end of last season that he can run those underneath routes that made Houshmandzadeh so critical; showing field presence, defensive awareness and a general impressive IQ for the game. Between the two, I’d say Henry only because he’s going to get the bulk of playing time in three-wide receiver sets – Johnson and Coles figure to start the first two spots.
4. Off the field problems have been a distraction for the Bengals for a while now. How connected do you believe those problems are to their on the field production? Does winning cure all or does there need to be a change in attitude? Or has there already been a change in attitude?
I don’t think there is a connection anymore. Most people that keep distractions on the table for Cincinnati should reexamine the team and the personnel. If you compare the Bengals from 2007 until today, off the field problems, at best, are de facto to the league’s overall character issues. I do agree that in order for the characterizations to finally dissolve that the Bengals need to win. As for the attitude, yea, it’s changed. We’ve replaced a good portion of the team since 2006 (the year that so many of our players were arrested). Reports are gushing with positive perspectives that Henry finally gets it.
5. I see you haven’t adopted Chad Johnson’s new moniker. What does he need to do for you to embrace his Ochocinco-ness? And which is more disturbing, his Brokeback Mountain comment or his new facial tattoos?
Here’s the thing about Chad. It’s like a give and take relationship. You have to throw that mindset of the perfect football player mimicking the robotic human out the window. He won’t say the right things, or do everything that fans expect all football players to do. If you accept that, take in stride his antics, you’ll actually come to enjoy him.
When Chad is having fun, then he’s in a good place and very dangerous to passing defenses; one reason we, as fans, are excited about next season. When he pouts and broods, he’s not motivated and his performance will show that. So while he’s talking Brokeback Mountain, fooling everyone with fake tattoos, we’re just happy that guy who puts up gaudy numbers could prove that 2008 was just an aberration and that he’s back to being old Chad in 2009.