Up, Up and Away


The sun warmed up this morning, and the air became fresher, seemingly based on one celestial event: finally, my least favorite Bengal, Dexter Jackson, has been cut.

When Dex Jax arrived, I was excited to get a “hard-hitting” tackler with a natural scowl fixed to his face, but I soured on him quickly when I realized that he couldn’t cover or tackle. It seems he landed a contract here via free agency based on his wonderful performance (the only of his career) in the2002 Super Bowl, earning him that game’s MVP honors. By year two of his Bengal career, he was exposed as a tackling fraud, and by year three he was too injured for any of it to matter. He will not be missed.

The release of Jackson is the latest of off-season moves that have me confused, only because all of them seem to make sense. What’s happening here? Aren’t these pages supposed to be jam-packed of venomous disdain toward the eternal blundering that this organization has carefully molded its reputation on?

Outside of the overpriced lump of Coles we landed in a moment of desperation after watching Housh take flight to bluer, more mountainous pastures, this team seems like it’s on course toward conventional wisdom. Crocker, Dorsey, Benson, and Brandon Johnson have all been very sensible signings at reasonable prices, as is the new backup quarterback, J.T. O’Sullivan.

O’ Sullivan posted modest numbers around a jalopy of an offense in San Francisco last season, and still without a serviceable offensive line here in Cincinnati, a decent backup to Carson becomes most important. After all, not suiting a capable line around our franchise-player is like attaching couch cushions to Palmer and heaving him into a busy intersection; it’s only a matter of time before something else on him breaks. Second-string quarterbacks are unusual because they’re the only thing ownership decides is necessary to buy, but never wants to actually use. They’re expensive insurance policies or a luxurious collectors item like a firearm from the civil war; worth pointing out and admiring but hoped to never function again. Still, we as Bengal fans know it only takes one play, one second, to look upon an item like this with terrified hope in our eyes. Welcome aboard, J.T.. Now sit quietly in the corner and hold this clipboard for us.

There likely won’t be much more to this free-agent season for the Bengals. They’ve managed ride the undercurrent, picking up a part here and there, but allowing the big-spenders to snatch the headlines and the limelight.

Outside of Coles, Mike and Marv showed patience this year, sticking to the blueprint that says free-agents only work as stop-gaps – and in cases like that of Dexter Jackson, sometimes create even bigger holes to fill. The draft supplies teams with the soft clay that eventually form championships, and is where the regime’s philosophy will be most tested this season. The existing brain-trust has shown a willingness to go about business in a similar fashion to that of the rest of the league, instead of remaining faithful to an antiquated do-it-yourself manual that Mike Brown has kept beneath his pillow or locked away in the team’s safe. With a sensible draft in April, this team may regain my severely damaged esteem after all. Someone must have received the memo.


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