Today I'm going to post the question and answer session that I recently had with the folks at: WhoDeyFans about this Sunday's Ravens-Bengals game. In addition, Check out my answers to their questions as well. In addition, check out the Bengals rep's blog for SB Nation at: www.cincyjungle.com
What do you see as the main contributing factor to the Bengals disappointing season thus far?
There are so many contributors; it is tough to pin down the main one. I’m going to say it falls on bad planning and worse decision-making. The Bengals were counting on Odell Thurman coming back to start at middle linebacker, counting on cornerback Deltha Oneal to return to pro-bowl form, and counting on tackle, Willie Anderson to continue playing through any injury, despite his age. What happened? Odell was given a year extension on his suspension; Deltha is not intercepting the ball and Willie’s injuries caught up with him. The real scary thing is they did not plan for any of these things happening. Although well deserved, why was Anderson, as an aging tackle given a huge payday when your defense line is terrible, our linebackers are suspect and our top guard leaving for Cleveland? Free agents? They didn’t chase any, despite Deltha’s inability to tackle or intercept the ball last season. Instead, they pay defensive end, Justin Smith over 7 million, a guy whose only sack came against Kansas City this year. The guy plays hard and makes a lot of tackles, but this is money that could have been well spent elsewhere. Basically the Bengals have not been prepared. Their drafts have been poor and their decisions on where to allocate the dollars has been ugly.
Do you put the blame squarely on the shoulders of coach Marvin Lewis?
No. Not entirely. As poorly as they have planned. I do not think Marvin is totally at fault. Mostly because there are simply too many problems to toss on one person. Plus, I don’t think he could have guessed that: first-round-draft-pick, Pollack would have ended his career with a fractured neck, second-rounder Odell would be suspended for 2 years and third-rounder Ahmad Brooks (who has the potential to be very special) would injure himself in the second game of the season and be out for the year. Three first-day linebackers that should be the soul of our defense are instead replaced with back-ups and practice squad pick-ups. I put more blame on ownership and weak scouting than on Lewis.
What has been the bright spot this season for the Bengals?
Now this is a tough question. The most fun we had was playing Baltimore. That was the time when it felt like the Bengals had it together and we were going places. Sadly that feeling did not last. I think the bright spot is in knowing that we have Carson Palmer, TJ and CJ. These guys are outstanding no matter what the record and they are exciting to watch every Sunday. Plus they’re all locked up for a while, so unlike the 90’s, though this season looks bleak, the future has hope.
What do you think the Bengals need to do to win this game in Baltimore?
Keep our defense off the field. Chris Henry is back and that is huge for the offense. If Carson can sustain drives by spreading the ball around, we can keep our defense off the field and hopefully wear down the Raven’s D. Basically I feel better about Cincinnati’s strong offense against Baltimore’s strong defense than I do about Cincinnati’s shitty defense against Baltimore’s shitty offense.
Predict the final score for this Sunday's Bengals/Ravens game.
I have picked the Bengals every game this year. It’s almost an obligation as a writer for Whodeyfans. But good god, they just lost to a team with a defense that was ranked better than only one other in the entire league—Cincinnati. How can I possibly have any hope? Chris Henry is a game changer. Based on that, and the fact that I refuse to watch a Bengals game if I think they have no chance of winning, I will pick the Bengals 31. Ravens 30.