The Cincinnati Bengals are broken. They are like those annoying little parts to a model airplane that snap like twigs when you barely touch them, and then there goes the model.
They redefine the word "busted" with all the issues that they have. We've got the "T. Ocho Show" with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens now fighting with each other. A defense that can't stop anyone, a coach struggling to keep control of his locker room, a series of bad draft picks, a depth chart of misfits, and now a quarterback who wants out or he'll retire.
Wow. That takes the cake. I thought the 2008 Detroit Lions, the ones who went 0-16 were bad, but this team is making up new ways to be viewed as pathetic.
There is no quick fix. I don't see this circus coming away with a 10-6 record, winning the division like they did in 2009. That team was a fluke, and this team is a mere shadow of it now.
They now have the fourth overall draft choice, and they need to use that wisely and couple it with other shrewed moves this offseason in order to improve their future.
1. Don't Draft A Quarterback With The Fourth Overall Choice
I don't care if Cam Newton is available or not, this team is not capable of taking that young man into that environment and giving him enough help to succeed. He's going to need a team that can nurture him. Not one that is as organized as a Marx Brothers conversation.
It doesn't matter how good they were or how many awards they won in college, the NFL is a different ball game.
Cam Newton is a question mark already, and Blaine Gabbert does not impress me either. The best quarterback stayed in college, and his name is Andrew Luck of Stanford.
Tom Brady was a sixth round draft choice, Tony Romo was undrafted and Matt Cassel was a seventh round pick. Proving that quality can be found throughout the draft.
All of these guys are very good passers, and two of them are Super Bowl MVPs, so while the NFL does have the Manning brothers, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers with first round tags on them, it doesn't mean that this draft has a guy capable of leading the Bengals.
Florida State's quarterback Christian Ponder is a player who has a late-first to second round grade on him. If they can grab him with their second or even third round pick, they be able to use their first choice on another player.
2. Go After The Best Defensive Lineman In The Draft
This draft is loaded with defensive linemen. Three great prospects shine brightly in the forms of Nick Fairley of Auburn, Marcell Dareus of Alabama, and Da'Quan Bowers of Clemson.
The Bengals greatest need is on the defensive line and a defensive line pass rush. Their top pass rusher was Carlos Dunlap, who had 9.5 sacks, the next highest was Geno Atkins with 3.
Instead of reaching for a quarterback, the Bengals need to grab one of these three monsters and have him unleash terror upon offensive lineman. Who is the best player though? I'll let their scouts determine that, but they need to grab one of those players early and go for a quarterback later.
3. Trade Carson Palmer
Palmer is done. He hasn't been the same quarterback since his elbow injury, that he elected to rest instead of having Tommy John surgery
Though no longer a franchise quarterback, Palmer is still a good game manager. But, that's just not enough when you have the offensive weapons the Bengals can deploy.
Will Palmer make good on his threat to retire if he's not traded? I think he will. He has enough money to retire and the Bengals are not winning any time soon. Something he wants to do, badly.
Trade him. It doesn't matter what they get as long as they get something. Trade him to the highest bidder whether it's a third-round pick, a player, or a package of picks. It doesn't matter as long as the Bengals are not left with nothing.
4. Trade Chad Ochocinco, Too
I love the guy. I think he's hilarious. I love his antics, his celebrations, his way of bringing entertainment to the fans. However, Ocho's not the long term solution now. He's now become too much to handle, especially with his headbutting with head coach Marvin Lewis.
When a coach and player fight, physical or verbal, the questions of authority and leadership are pulled into question. Teams can't ask themselves who is our leader, they have to KNOW who it is.
I've played football before, and when I was rookie, I was part of a team that had a weak leader at head coach.
I never knew who exactly to listen to because I was never sure who was giving me the right advice, and who was just trying to be a boss. That team was doomed from the start, and the Bengals have a similar situation.
Head Coach Marvin Lewis ought to be the obvious leader, but if Ocho can get away with stuff, then every player is going to think they can get away with it. Lewis loses respect before he has a chance to earn it.
Anything is possible in the NFL when it comes to trades. Find a team that will be desperate enough to bring Ocho in. Who knows what the Bengals could get for him. Maybe even a first rounder.
5. Cut Andre Smith
He is a disappointment of the highest kind. He was drafted out of Alabama with the sixth overall pick. He held out of camp and preseason until he got signed to a four year deal with a two year option for and around $21 million guaranteed.
He breaks his foot soon after, and he misses the majority of the season. He's been nothing but a frustration. The team's offensive line may have gotten better, but he wasn't a factor in it.
The Bengals need to end this player up the river and send a message that you have to work hard and play well to be on this team.
6. Don't Re-Sign Terrell Owens
The one thing that Terrell Owens had going into the 2010 season was the belief that despite his loud mouth and "Diva" attitude, was the fact that he was very healthy for a 36 year old. Teams tend to shy away from players in their late thirties because of the injury risk and skill erosion.
However, Owens had not lost a step. He was still a deep threat at receiver, and he wasn't injury-prone. Well, that changed this past year.
T.O suffered a season-ending injury where he tore cartilage in his left knee in early December. His health is now a severe question. He is no longer viewed as a guy who defied nature, but as a guy who suffers the fate of all men who live long enough, old age.
7. Get Quality Free Agents Should a New CBA Be Reached
The Bengals need a quality free agency to have hope for the future. However, that doesn't mean overpaying for talent. The Bengals don't have that kind of money, and most likely, there will be a salary cap in the new CBA.
They need to look for quality free agents who fit their systems. They don't have to be top tier agents, but just guys who can fill the positions and do a decent job. A lot of Super Bowl teams have ordinary players revolving around great coaching and/or a few great players.
I'd target a few defensive linemen first, and then look for some offensive line help if possible. But nothing huge. The draft is going to be key for the Bengals future.
8. Have a Very Good Draft
The draft has been key to so many team's success, that drafting alone can build championships.
They are going to have to trust their scouts and get talent in all rounds, not just the first. It is imperative that this draft go right with the Bengals from the first pick to the last pick.
Can they do it? It's possible.
But, it is also possible they make bad decision and become even more of a laughing stock.
If that is, indeed, possible.