Some things never change. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Summers follow springs, and autumns follow summers. The moon orbits the earth as the earth orbits the sun.
And the Cincinnati Bengals will spend every spring and summer being disrespected by Peter King.
I learned a long time ago that while I respect his opinion when it has to do with the other 31 teams in the league, its best to simply disregard anything he says about the Bengals.
The latest evidence came on Monday, when King unveiled his first post-offseason power rankings. Where did Cincinnati land on his list?
Despite coming off a division sweep and playoff appearance, the Bengals are only better than nine of the league’s 32 teams in King’s “expert” opinion. They are twenty spots below the Ravens, and eleven spots below the Steelers both of whom they swept.
Also apparently better to King area Seattle, Carolina, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, Arizona and Jacksonville.
Thankfully they did manage to finish one spot above the Detroit Lions.
Annoyed, I set out to see why King could logically come to this conclusion (against my better judgement). I began looking at the facts.
On a general basis, I could understand if the team lost impact players in the offseason, drafted poorly, or was in the midst of player suspensions, coaching changes or similar upheaval.
On the contrary, the 2010 offseason has to be the best the team has had in over two decades. They lost no players they wanted to keep. The players they let go were disappointments and have been replaced by better alternatives.
The defense that finished in the top 10 in all major categories in 2009 returns all eleven starters, and upgraded the depth with guys like cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones, Safety Gibril Wilson, and second-round Defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Defensive end Antwan Odom, who recorded nine sacks and a blocked field goal in a mere five games last year, returns from an Achilles injury.
Did the defense regress? Absolutely not.
The offense wasn’t very good last year, granted, but it was good enough to finish 10-6. The passing game has been upgraded significantly at tight end and receiver. Former starting tight end Reggie Kelly returns after being out last year with injury suffered in training camp, and the team has young stars in the making in first round pick Jermaine Gresham and 2009 third rounder Chase Coffman. Disappointing WR Laveranues Coles was replaced by Tampa’s Antonio Bryant, former Jaguar first rounder Matt Jones was signed, and the team added Texas’ Jordan Shipley and Kansas’ Dez Briscoe in the draft. The entire offensive line returns intact, and Carson Palmer is healthy.
Did the offense regress? Heck no.
Special teams was largely solid in 2009, with the one glaring weakness being kicker Shayne Graham’s choke-artist tendencies, which were on display in the wildcard loss to the Jets. The team brought in Dave Rayner and Mike Nugent to fill this void, both of whom sport a stronger leg. The return game, already strong, benefits from the additions of Shipley and Adam Jones.
Did special teams regress? Nope.
So why the hatin’?
Did Baltimore and Pittsburgh do more to get better? Baltimore certainly tried to address their similar needs at WR, adding Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth, but I don’t think they did more than Cincinnati in the offseason. Pittsburgh added some former players and had a solid draft, but they’ve had “Ben-gate” going on all offseason, his suspension coming and they lost their best receiver in Santonio Holmes.
Did the Bengals regress versus their division rivals? I don’t think so.
Next I thought that maybe King was just taking queues from his colleagues around the league. So I looked that up:
Latest Preseason Power Rankings for the Cincinnati Bengals:
- USA Today: 11
- ESPN: 11
- Fox Sports: 10
- CBS Sportsline: 10
So the answer to that one is another “no.”
Thus, I’m forced to conclude, again, that Peter King simply has an irrational bias against our Bengals. And once again I’m reminded not to read his column.
Maybe he just hates skyline chili.
Mike Lombardi’s recent column in NFP tells us that this is nothing but good news for Marvin Lewis and his striped charges. Being underestimated has always helped the Bengals, and Lewis tends to find effective ways of using things like this to inspire his players, and us their fans.
Perhaps a t-shirt is already in the works.