Monday, December 31, 2007

it's good for you

Marvin Lewis has been talking about "blowing things up" this offseason in regards to the Bengals' personnel, so it sounds like the players had better get ready for a shakedown before next season. I think there will be a handful of defensive free agents--guys like Justin Smith, who recorded a measly two sacks this season, as well as Landon Johnson, Dexter Jackson, and Bryan Robinson--who won't be returning. I wouldn't be shocked to see Madieu Williams leave as well; another decent-but-not-outstanding season was hampered by injuries and rookie safety Chinedum Ndukwe has been outstanding as his replacement. They might not all be gone, but i don't see most of them coming back. Hopefully they will resign some of the free agents who had a big impact this year, like linebacker Dhani Jones. From the sound of it, Lewis is even going to look into revamping the playbook and evaluating the entire staff, although I don't think we'll see any major changes in the coaching positions.

Both Lewis and Carson Palmer have made comments that they think the team needs an attitude change, which leads to wonder what will happen to some players who are not free agents. Will Henry be cut loose if they decide that keeping him isn't worth the risk after he never got completely up to speed in 2007 after being suspended the first half of the season?

What about Chad Johnson? I don't think Marvin Lewis likes having him around with his occasional emotional baggage, and I think Chad is more disgruntled with Cincinnati after being burned by the media this year. I think if it was left up to Lewis, he'd look to trade Chad, but since Mike Brown has said that Chad won't be leaving then nothing will happen unless Brown changes his mind. I think getting rid of Chad would be a mistake; as good as T.J. Houshmanzadeh has been, I still don't think he could be as effective as a first wide receiver.

There could be some changes on the offensive line, although considering how long it took the line to get a rhythm going this year after some injuries and losing Eric Steinbach to free agency, they might not want to tamper to with it. If they do, I think Levi Jones might be one to go. He had his own attitude problems early in the season and I wouldn't be surprised if that, along with his injury problems and expensive contract, led him to being dismissed. It's not likely, but it could happen depending on how much Marvin wants to clean house. Willie Anderson also may not be back after being injured much of this past year, although if he leaves it will be on his own terms through retirement.

Then comes the problem with the running backs. There are five potential running backs--Rudi Johnson, Kenny Watson, DeDe Dorsey, Kenny Irons, and Chris Perry--and it is likely the Bengals will only keep three (I'm not counting fullback Jeremi Johnson). Rudi Johnson was hampered by injuries for most of 2007 and played poorly most of the time. Do you dump him after one bad year and hope that Kenny Watson handle being the lead back all season? If both Chris Perry and Kenny Irons are healthy, I would think they'd have to go with Irons over Perry. You'd have to hope that Irons' injury was simply a fluke, so you have to keep him over the injury-prone bust that Perry has become. DeDe Dorsey showed too much potential to simply cut him, but it's doubtful you could get anything in a trade for him. The only back that has any trade value would be Rudi, but even that might be hindered by his injuries this year. It will be interesting to see what they do.

Looking ahead to the 2008 season, the good news is that the Bengals have the ninth pick overall in the draft, so they should be set to get a good defensive lineman or linebacker. The bad news is that the Bengals likely face a tougher schedule than they did in 2007. They play eight games against playoff teams (counting Pittsburgh twice) and the two toughest divisions in football: the AFC South, where the worst team (Houston) was 8-8 and three teams made the playoffs, and the NFC East, where once again no team had a losing record and three teams made the playoffs (Philadelphia came in last with an 8-8 record). The Bengals only play three teams with losing records in 2007, including the 5-11 Baltimore Ravens twice, as well as the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs, both of whom went 4-12 in 2007. The combined record from 2007 for the Bengals 2008 opponents is 115-93.

Unfortunately, next season could be another long one. If Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown decide to really shake things up, next year could be more of a rebuilding year than a competitive one, especially with such a daunting schedule.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

get out of the road if you want to grow old

I'm bored, so here's a few random stories I've been reading:

  • It seems that Republican Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee's son has aspirations to become Michael Vick. In 1998, at the age of 18, David Huckabee and another boy were kicked out of the Boy Scouts for killing a dog by hanging it, slitting its throat, and stoning it to death. Thanks to his father's connections, David "The Dog Killer" never faced any charges. I don't know about you, but I'm fairly sure I don't want the father of a budding serial killer running our nation, especially if Daddy's just going to bail him out every time. Disgusting.
  • Six states-New Hampshire, Montana, Maine, Washington, South Carolina, and Oklahoma-are opposing a federal law to create new national id cards, claiming that the new cards are too expensive and, more importantly, are an invasion of privacy. New Hampshire State Representative Neil Kurk defended his opposition to the id cards, saying, "The people of New Hampshire are adamantly opposed to any kind of 'papers-please' society reminiscent of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. This is another effort of the federal government to keep track of all its citizens."
  • The RIAA would like to inform you that those mp3s on your computer--the ones you copied from CDs you paid for with your own hard-earned money--are still unauthorized and illegal. In fact, if you even listen to the music you pay for, you're probably still a criminal, and should be sued for ridiculous sums of money. Let this be a lesson to you kids: it's okay to drive your business into the ground by alienating all of your customers, as long as you can find ways to sue them in order to make up for the profits you're continually losing.
  • It seems that Senator Joe Lieberman will endorse Arizona Senator John McCain as the Republican Presidential nominee. It's nice to see that old, irrelevant, has-been politicians stick up for one another.
  • The official poster for Indiana Jones IV, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull has been released. Neato.
  • And finally, I'll leave you with an interview of Ron Paul on Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" show. I know you didn't think I could post all these random stories without throwing in one about Congressman Paul...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

radiate cold shafts of broken glass

I started a group for Yahoo's new College Football Bowl Pick'em game. The group ID is 21097 and the password is "beatlsu" without quotation marks. The first bowl game starts on December 20th, so hurry and sign up now!

Monday, December 10, 2007

angels on the sideline

The guys over at Penny-Arcade are once again running their fantastic Child's Play charity drive this year. The purpose of Child's Play is to provide numerous children's hospitals with money, games, books, movies, and toys. It has blossomed into a huge affair over the past few years; what began as a fund raiser for their local children's hospital in Washington now includes dozens of hospitals in six different countries. Last year the charity raised over a million dollars. I suggest you check it out and consider donating.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Monday, December 03, 2007

the smoldering rubble of empires

Looks like John McCain needs a history lesson. And a dictionary so he can learn the difference between isolationism and non-interventionism.

I took some time to watch the CNN/Youtube Republican debates online, and they didn't seem like an enormous waste of time. There were some decent questions and most of the candidates had me either rolling my eyes or shaking my head in disgust most of the time, but there was some worthwhile information to be had.

Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have been the two top-tier candidates (according to the mainstream media), and both look like huge sleezeballs. These men are fantastic politicians; giving actual answers to questions is unimportant, as long as you can create a good sound bite. Everything out of Giuliani's mouth either relates back to New York or 9/11, and it looks like he's content to try riding his popularity from those into the White House. Romney also avoided answering most of the questions directed his way; the worst example of this came when he was questioned about waterboarding. He made it clear that he was against torture, but then refused to classify whether tactics like waterboarding are or are not torture. Kinda hard to stop torture if it isn't clearly defined, isn't it, Mitt?

I'm surprised that Mike Huckabee isn't the Republican front-runner. I don't trust him one bit, but he does a decent job of sounding sincere. He says all the right things to win the support of most Republicans: he makes sure to throw out the religion card, he still supports the war in Iraq, and he promised to cut taxes. I think he gives off the impression of being the most electable candidate and I'm surprised that the Republican Party and the media aren't pushing him more. I don't actually believe most of what he says, but I think he's great at playing the political game.

Fred Thompson seems like a scumbag as well. His attitude and swagger just oozes the stereotypical figure of the old Southern aristocrat sitting on his porch in a clean white suit, sipping whiskey while plotting his way into political office, not really caring about average people at all. I'll admit that the man has a good sense of humor, but I could never take him seriously enough to want him leading our country.

McCain is the saddest figure in the run for the Republican nomination. I used to like the way he refused to follow the typical Republican mantra and simply follow what he thinks is right. Now I feel that he's invested his reputation far too strongly into the Iraq war and has lost of lot of his renegade spirit. He split his time at the debate between sniping at Ron Paul, giving a passionate and well-spoken thrashing to Romney over the use of torture, and looking depressed and defeated the rest of the time.

Ron Paul was fantastic, in my opinion (not that I'm biased or anything). Obviously an audience full of war supporters and people who still think Bush is a good president booed half of what Paul had to say, but there was still a surprising number of supporters cheering very loudly for him. One of the things that most stood out to me is that Paul may have been the only one in the debate who didn't take shots at the other candidates. He was there to argue his point, not to sling mud at his rivals. The amount of time given to Paul over some of the other candidates was very limited--Paul himself pointed out to CNN in their post-debate interview that almost thirty-five minutes went by without any questions being directed his way. Despite this, he had a strong finish at the end and he got his message across well in the limited time he had.

To be fair, I'll mention two other candidates on the far right and far left of the stage. I admit I didn't remember either of their names without going back and looking them up, and both got about as much time to talk as Ron Paul. Neither made much of an impression, although I thought Lefty (Tom Tancredo) was dead-on when he criticized Huckabee for promising to cut government spending while also promising to fund a NASA mission to Mars. Righty (Duncan Hunter) had a great smirk and spent too much time talking about his father's old rifle that he used to own instead of saying something important.

I wanted to end this with the clip of Ron Paul on the Daily Show (to quote Jon Stewart on Ron Paul, "You appear to have consistent, principled integrity... Americans don't usually go for that") but I couldn't find a good clip online. Paul's visit to the Colbert Report wasn't quite as good at getting his message across, but it's still entertaining. I suppose I should watch the Democratic debates from a couple months ago as well, although watching that much Hillary will be difficult.