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Geoff,

Recently, a lot of reporters and columnists have been real hard on the Bengals giving them little to no chance of making the playoffs. But are things really that bad??

The offense seems poised to be in the Top 10 again this year, and while the losses of Smith, Johnson and Williams on defense were rough, they made up for it well by signing Odom, drafting Rivers and developing the secondary.

Can you shed some light on this for me. Thanks a lot. Justin H., Cincinnati, OH

JUSTIN: They will call me House Man, Kool-Aid Boozer, Hobspin and my personal favorite, straight from Hall-of-Famer Marty Brennaman, Mike Brown's Bobo.

But, really, the feeling in and around this team is a lot better now than it was in April, when the Titanic beckoned complete with deck chairs.

The spring workouts showed this team isn't void of talent. The Pollack-Perrys-Thurman-Henry tragedies have made it a shell of what was planned, but there is talent.

After the draft, I thought they were going to observe the 96th anniversary of the Titanic with a 4-12, 5-11 iceberg.

But, like you, (and national media members) I shifted because watching Mike Zimmer, Keith Rivers, and the DBs in action, you got the sense the defense would be better than people ever thought.

And with Chad Johnson showing up and not going totally bonkers, can we repeat it?

If the Red Sox can win two World Series in four seasons with Manny being Manny, why can't the Bengals get there with Chad being Chad?

(And count Chad as another guy who feels better about the defense.)

Plus, after seeing what other teams in the AFC North are going through, it's an 8-8, 9-7 division.

Cleveland may have Shaun Rogers, but they could also have an untried Brady Quinn at quarterback at some point because is Derek Anderson really the answer? Now with Leigh Bodden playing cornerback in Detroit, who is going to cover Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Santonio Holmes, Limas Sweed, and Derrick Mason?

The Ravens and Steelers are still good on defense, but they are re-shuffling in Baltimore with a new head coach and they're re-loading in Pittsburgh on an offensive line that has been a linchpin of their philosophy over the last decade.

The division is there for the taking and the Bengals have what the rest of the division doesn't in an elite quarterback that can win games the other guys can't.

Yeah, the schedule is a lousy matchup because the Bengals haven't exactly been physical on either side of the ball the last two years and they play the most physical teams in football, starting with Pittsburgh and Baltimore, then Jacksonville and Tennessee, and then Philly and the Giants.

But if they stay true to their word about committing to the run and steal some games with the clock like they did in '05, they can win those games because, except for the Jags' lethal running game, which one of those offenses is going to put up points in a hurry?

The possible running downs combo of Rivers, Frostee Rucker, Marvin White (a bigger hitter than Madieu Williams at safety), a healthy Rashad Jeanty, and Pat Sims makes them, you would think, more physical than last year.

They lose a lot of toughness with Justin Smith's exit, but the loss that hurts them the most is linebacker Landon Johnson. Smart, played every spot, played hurt, and called the signals.

I still think they should have nabbed a veteran linebacker to replace some of that and they still need a big body on the line.

But, gee, don't they still have enough talent over there to break the top 20 in defense? Indy won a Super Bowl with the last-ranked run defense and the 21st overall.

OK, there are big Ifs on offense, too, such as the returns of running backs Rudi Johnson and Chris Perry, the precarious roster spot of the incumbent fullback, and the lack of an emerging No. 3 receiver. (Andre Caldwell is a nice pick, but the tough rookie years for receivers are well documented.).

And, please, don't crown the offense. In only four games last year did it score more than two touchdowns.

But, look, if the defense is better, Palmer is Palmer with a 90-plus passer rating (which he is if they run it), and the other division clubs struggle with the same schedule, they have as good a shot as anybody in the North winning the title and getting to the playoffs.

Say all you want about last season, but injuries do matter. When the Steelers closed their season like the Bengals began theirs (running back hurt, a couple of offensive linemen shelved), Pittsburgh lost three of their last four and their first playoff game.

You know, I questioned my sanity about a month ago when I started to think it might not be that bad. But when I talked to some players and other people around here, they had the same feeling.

"Hey," they were suddenly saying, "a fresh start on defense, run the ball and No. 9 playing pitch-and-catch with Chad and T.J. and a new toy in tight end Ben Utecht, and we're going to surprise some people."

So, no, I don't think I'm, drunk on the Kool-Aid. Who ever gets to 8-8, 9-7, 10-6 (it will only be one) wins it, and they're like the rest of the division on that score. Some things pan out, and it gets done.

Dear Geoff,

I was just wondering what is going on with Stacy Andrews' contract talks?

I just read the article where you mention that they still haven't come to terms yet and I'm really confused about what the problem is.

Does Andrews not want to play here? Is it that he wants more money for a longer period of time? Or is he planning on leaving after this year and making a killing in free agency? This is worrisome because if that is the case, we shouldn't have him starting, and I know he's getting a lot of money this year so he has to play.

Also along that line, what is their plan for Willie? Are they going to make him a backup? This would be very sad for the organization as a whole with all Willie has done for us. I don't think or want them to cut him or release him.

This would only make the Bengals more of a running joke than they already are. Anthony, Cincinnati, OH

ANTHONY: Three guesses (although Rich Moran, the agent, is polite, he doesn't talk) and the first two don't count. Money, I assume. It has to be. Or it would have been done a year and a half ago when the Bengals first approached them.

Andrews has the best of both worlds. He's played just enough (17 starts) at three positions to flash his ample potential but apparently not enough to convince the Bengals he's worth elite money over the long term. How can you give a guy with 17 starts something like $20-22 million guaranteed, if, indeed, Andrews is looking for what he would get on the open market even though he's got a deal.

If you're Moran, do you risk taking less to stay with the team that developed your client and believed enough that they took him in the fourth round even though he had just 70 college snaps?

Of course, if they don't get a long-term contract done before July 15, it's a downer for both sides. The Bengals' ability to extend other veterans (how could they do T.J. Houshmandzadeh?) is severely limited and may be shot if they're stuck with Andrews' $7.5 million franchise tag for the whole season.

And a one-year deal is a huge risk for Andrews because he could get hurt or he could end up sitting behind a healthy Willie Anderson at right tackle.

Anderson told us after the final practice of mandatory minicamp that he was looking for clarification on where his career stands. Asked if he's willing to remain a backup, he says his preference is to start.

"Right now I'm backing up," he said. "We're in a curious position. The only thing I'm looking for is clarification on where my career is. I definitely want to service the team. At the same time I want to play and be a starter."

Frankly, if Willie is healthy, you have to feel he's going to play because he ended 2006 as a Pro Bowl right tackle so that must make him the best right tackle on this team. Even if Andrews has the big number.

Yeah, I think at that point the Bengals would make Andrews the highest-paid utility man in the history of sports because the best guys are going to play.

If Andrews signed long term (and that looks all but dead), you'd wonder what they'd do because it's doubtful they could keep three big multi-year deals at the tackle spot.

The Bengals are taking a lot of heat for tagging Andrews, but what would you do?

Anderson turns 33 Friday, and is coming off a season in which he suffered his most severe injury of his career (knee) because it ended his streak of starts at 116. So, naturally you want some insurance and although he looked terrific last month, wouldn't you want to see how Anderson holds up in pads in the first couple of weeks in training camp? At least have him play some series in some preseason games? How could you let a guy like Andrews walk before even knowing?

To me, it's like tagging Justin Smith last year. Yeah, far from ideal, but it shows they are committed to winning now by fielding the best team they can this year and not next year with all the best options available no matter the salary.

I wouldn't do it. I'd unload Andrews and if Anderson isn't able, I'd move Andrew Whitworth from left guard to right tackle, put rookie tackle Anthony Collins at left guard and put Andrews on the trading block for at least a second-rounder.

Of course, that's a lot of risk. If Collins gets Carson Palmer drilled as he learns a position he hasn't played, I've put this season in serious jeopardy.

And, at 27, Andrews is viewed by many in the league as one of the next great tackles. Pete Prisco of CBS Sportsline.com put him and Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko on his list of the league's top 30 emerging young players.

So, I don't think you can easily slough off Andrews, either, and make them a laughingstock on this issue.

When you're riding a guy like Palmer in the pocket, you should be mortgaging all you can to protect him, and they are.

http://bengals.com/news/news.asp?story_id=6868

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Im just as optomistic, although the front 7 still worries me a bit, we look terrible on paper, but hopefully were a lot better on field.

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Im just as optomistic, although the front 7 still worries me a bit, we look terrible on paper, but hopefully were a lot better on field.

Oh come on...Sporting News just named our o-line the fifth best in the AFC. :rolleyes:

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Are there concerns ?? Yes, of course there are. This is how I view it though...

Looking at the AFCN and the schedule the teams play is brutal to say the least. This is a season where 10-6 and maybe even 9-7 takes the division. Even with the questions on defense, the potential is there and no one knows the impact the new coaches are going to have. That being said, a healthy offense with the addition of Utecht can easily put points on the board.

Knowing what we have, is there any reason we couldn't expect this team to win 9 and possibly 10 this season ?? I think we can...

WHODEY !!!

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I'm very optimistic about the team’s chances this year. I love the upgrades on defense (especially the DC), and Carson is going to have a TE who he can actually depend on to catch the ball for the first time.

Those are reasons enough to be optimistic in my opinion.

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Hobson Quote...JUSTIN: They will call me House Man, Kool-Aid Boozer, Hobspin and my personal favorite, straight from Hall-of-Famer Marty Brennaman, Mike Brown's Bobo.

That's because you're a rose colored glasses wearing HACK! You and I both know your articles are crap, your insight is insipid, and your nose is buried so far up Mike Brown's ass that without it hooked to your face, you are virtually unrecognizable! <_<

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Hobson Quote...JUSTIN: They will call me House Man, Kool-Aid Boozer, Hobspin and my personal favorite, straight from Hall-of-Famer Marty Brennaman, Mike Brown's Bobo.

That's because you're a rose colored glasses wearing HACK! You and I both know your articles are crap, your insight is insipid, and your nose is buried so far up Mike Brown's ass that without it hooked to your face, you are virtually unrecognizable! <_<

How do you really feel? :lol:

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Hobson Quote...JUSTIN: They will call me House Man, Kool-Aid Boozer, Hobspin and my personal favorite, straight from Hall-of-Famer Marty Brennaman, Mike Brown's Bobo.

That's because you're a rose colored glasses wearing HACK! You and I both know your articles are crap, your insight is insipid, and your nose is buried so far up Mike Brown's ass that without it hooked to your face, you are virtually unrecognizable! <_<

How do you really feel? :lol:

I'm sorry, but I find it impossible to read anything written by Hobson without having to suppress my gag reflex. ^_^ His presence is the main reason I rarely visit Bengals.com.

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I, for one, enjoy Butch's work. I can be pretty cynical but I find him fairly objective. Bengalszone Billy, are you going to say his breakdown on Stacey Andrews and Willie isn't solid work?

Check out Chris Welsh and George Grande on almost a daily basis for examples of brown nosing. And Hobson is far more objective about the Bengals than another former Cincinnati beat writer, Peter King.

I like that there are fairly regular articles about the Bengals during this slow football news time.

I have stated elsewhere, like ArmyBengal, that 9-7 likely wins the AFC North, 10-6 for sure, and the Bengals are capable of 9 wins this season.

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I will admit that there is a possibility that everything I noted fails miserably, but I just don't see it happening that way and these guys just seem hungry...

WHODEY !!!

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Bengalszone Billy, are you going to say his breakdown on Stacey Andrews and Willie isn't solid work?

I couldn't say because I didn't read them. Hobson's earlier homer-type articles made it impossible for me to stomach anything he writes, and I simply stopped reading his work. BTW I find it funny you call him "Butch". :lol:

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I'm optimistic, but of course I start every year very optimistic!!! LoL No really, I see that they have attempted to make the upgrades.. Starting with the Offense, they got Utech and this will help us in the redzone.. Which I think we pretty much sucked at for the last 2 years... Plus Perry could be available he'll help spread the LBers out... I have also heard not to count Irons out!!!! He could be ready to go this season!! Now the Defense, we added a PASS RUSHER, we have a smart MLB in Jones calling the defense, btw have I mentioned a badass DC?? Also we have a LB coach with an idea.. Our secondary should be seasoned and ready to go.... ST now has some players on it that were missing lastyear... I'm very optimistic this year, everyone is already counting us out.. I bought Athlon's preseason BS.. Waste of money, but they basically said we will suck and that CJ will single handly ruin this season with his BS... Still bashing us for our crimminal player from a couple of years ago that are no longer on the team.. We will win the AFCN Division this year and not relinquish it for years to come... Can you say DYNASTY!!! OK I need my meds now...

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I'm optimistic, but of course I start every year very optimistic!!! LoL No really, I see that they have attempted to make the upgrades.. Starting with the Offense, they got Utech and this will help us in the redzone.. Which I think we pretty much sucked at for the last 2 years... Plus Perry could be available he'll help spread the LBers out... I have also heard not to count Irons out!!!! He could be ready to go this season!! Now the Defense, we added a PASS RUSHER, we have a smart MLB in Jones calling the defense, btw have I mentioned a badass DC?? Also we have a LB coach with an idea.. Our secondary should be seasoned and ready to go.... ST now has some players on it that were missing lastyear... I'm very optimistic this year, everyone is already counting us out.. I bought Athlon's preseason BS.. Waste of money, but they basically said we will suck and that CJ will single handly ruin this season with his BS... Still bashing us for our crimminal player from a couple of years ago that are no longer on the team.. We will win the AFCN Division this year and not relinquish it for years to come... Can you say DYNASTY!!! OK I need my meds now...

No meds needed, Sand. I compare this offseason to the offseason prior to '05; Everyone knew we had talent but wasn't sure how it would all come together. The exciting thing is I think that across the board, we have more talent than in '05, with none of the expectations that we had in '06 or last year. The defense will be no better, no question. The offense looks better, too, with a healthy Rudi/Perry/Watson/Dorsey/Irons combo. When was the last time we were as deep, from top to bottom, on offense (including OL)?? I can't wait to see the Bengals shock the world!

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I'm optimistic, but of course I start every year very optimistic!!! LoL No really, I see that they have attempted to make the upgrades.. Starting with the Offense, they got Utech and this will help us in the redzone.. Which I think we pretty much sucked at for the last 2 years... Plus Perry could be available he'll help spread the LBers out... I have also heard not to count Irons out!!!! He could be ready to go this season!! Now the Defense, we added a PASS RUSHER, we have a smart MLB in Jones calling the defense, btw have I mentioned a badass DC?? Also we have a LB coach with an idea.. Our secondary should be seasoned and ready to go.... ST now has some players on it that were missing lastyear... I'm very optimistic this year, everyone is already counting us out.. I bought Athlon's preseason BS.. Waste of money, but they basically said we will suck and that CJ will single handly ruin this season with his BS... Still bashing us for our crimminal player from a couple of years ago that are no longer on the team.. We will win the AFCN Division this year and not relinquish it for years to come... Can you say DYNASTY!!! OK I need my meds now...

No meds needed, Sand. I compare this offseason to the offseason prior to '05; Everyone knew we had talent but wasn't sure how it would all come together. The exciting thing is I think that across the board, we have more talent than in '05, with none of the expectations that we had in '06 or last year. The defense will be no better, no question. The offense looks better, too, with a healthy Rudi/Perry/Watson/Dorsey/Irons combo. When was the last time we were as deep, from top to bottom, on offense (including OL)?? I can't wait to see the Bengals shock the world!

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If we win more than 8 games then Zimmer is Moses leading our kitties (I was gonna say pu**ies but I knew I'd lose half od ye derelicts). While we definately have enough talent on offense (and I sometimes wonder what things would look like with Zampese at the horn instead of Brat-I sometimes feel he holds us back a little)...but there is little reason why this young group should compete at a high level. I believe secretly they(coaches) are hoping for an exciting resurgence with some promise like Marvin's first year and begin our real push in '09.

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If we win more than 8 games then Zimmer is Moses leading our kitties (I was gonna say pu**ies but I knew I'd lose half od ye derelicts). While we definately have enough talent on offense (and I sometimes wonder what things would look like with Zampese at the horn instead of Brat-I sometimes feel he holds us back a little)...but there is little reason why this young group should compete at a high level. I believe secretly they(coaches) are hoping for an exciting resurgence with some promise like Marvin's first year and begin our real push in '09.

Oh. My. God! Look who's back! Good to see you old friend! :)

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Thanks...been living in Saudi, but I'm home for the summer...how u been, ya dirty dog?

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Thanks...been living in Saudi, but I'm home for the summer...how u been, ya dirty dog?

Very good thank you. How was Saudi? I didn't think they liked protestant ministers over in their country. Were you some kind of undercover infidel?

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Yeah...well I'm pretty much a full-blown infidel...I'm a drama teacher now for an American high school over there...And I love...BTW gas is 40 cents a gallon...I know, bastards

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Yeah...well I'm pretty much a full-blown infidel...I'm a drama teacher now for an American high school over there...And I love...BTW gas is 40 cents a gallon...I know, bastards

Welcome back big boy!

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If we win more than 8 games then Zimmer is Moses leading our kitties (I was gonna say pu**ies but I knew I'd lose half od ye derelicts). While we definately have enough talent on offense (and I sometimes wonder what things would look like with Zampese at the horn instead of Brat-I sometimes feel he holds us back a little)...but there is little reason why this young group should compete at a high level. I believe secretly they(coaches) are hoping for an exciting resurgence with some promise like Marvin's first year and begin our real push in '09.

Duude, I'm having flashbacks !!! B)

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