The Cincinnati Bengals, since 2010, seemed like they were finally being run like a professional football organization should be. That has all changed in the span of one year. The Bengals lost Sanu, Jones, and Nelson last year, and followed it up this year by losing the only two good offensive linemen that they had. I can honestly see letting Andrew Whitworth go, the money the Rams gave the 35-year-old tackle was way too much to pay. The loss of Kevin Zeitler though was inexcusable, especially losing him to a division rival. Then to compound that, they lost running back Rex Burkhead to the New England Patriots.
What have the done in free agency to get better? They brought back former first-round bust Andre Smith. Smith seemed to be coming into his own during the 2012 season but quickly reverted to being an inconsistent lineman in 2013. Smith has a penchant for being out of shape and getting injured.
He signed last season with the Minnesota Vikings but ended up only playing four games before getting injured and spending the rest of the season on injured reserve. Smith is being brought in as an insurance policy for an offensive line which looks like it will enter the season with Cedric Ogbuehi moving to left tackle and Jake Fisher possibly moving to right tackle. If you are a Bengals fan, both of those possibilities have to concern you. And if you are Bengals QB Andy Dalton it has to scare the hell out of you!
The Bengals offensive line was terrible last year, and if you can believe it in only a few months, it has gotten much worse. Since Paul Alexander has taken over as the offensive line coach, they have not been able to develop many quality offensive linemen. Of course, Alexander is one of Mike Brown’s boys, and with that being said we all know nothing at all will be done to deal with that situation. In the 1980’s the Bengals were known as one of the best places to develop offensive lineman. Of course during that period Jim McNally was in charge of coaching the offensive line. McNally was one of the finest offensive line coaches in NFL history.
So was signing Andre Smith a smart move? Believe it or not, the Bengals offensive line is bad enough that it probably is a good signing. He may not be a starter but he can at least come in on an emergency situation and help out. If Ogbuehi or Fisher do not develop, we may even see Smith get his job back.
In the end though, I am afraid that we may be starting to see the Bengals return to the ineptness of years gone by. The NFL draft coming up will give us more of an idea about that.
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