Hi Jeff, thanks for your expert coverage! Will the Bengals part ways with Cordy Glenn? The running game's emergence coincided with his return, despite questions about his desire. And does Germaine Pratt have vocal leadership qualities? Glenn Bochner, Cincinnati, OH
GLENN: Thanks for the kind note. A major development for this team has been the evolution of the offensive line and that was on display last Sunday. Look at the young guys. Rookie left tackle Fred Johnson looked as good as the Bengals thought he would when they claimed him on waivers from Pittsburgh two months ago and left guard Michael Jordan had an impressive rookie season when you consider he won’t turn 22 until later this month. Plus, after he got a lot of non-contact work during the season, the coaches remain high on left tackle Jonah Williams and believe last season’s No. 1 pick will be ready to be the Opening Day left tackle. And for depth they’ve got two more rookie tackles in O’Shea Dugas and Isaiah Prince that they think can combine with the veterans to make the offensive line the area that jumps ahead most quickly next year.
All of which means that it may be hard for Cordy to come back at his salary. His play was up-and-down this year, but his pass blocking talent has always been there. Still, it had to catch people’s eyes last Sunday with how Fred Johnson and Jordan played near dominant football on the left side next to freshly signed Trey Hopkins at center. That has to affect the decision.
And I’m not sure the run game revival had a lot to do with personnel. The major thing is they simply gave Mixon the ball. In the first eight games he had 12.5 carries. In the last eight games he led the league in carries at 22 per game. Look at the eighth game itself, a 24-10 loss to the Rams. Mixon had 3.9 yards per his 17 carries while Dalton threw it 52 times. Maybe that’s a reason they only had the ball 27 minutes. So I think the improved run game was more a product of mentality than personnel. But watching the emergence of Mike Jordan and Fred Johnson was fun.
Pratt is like most rookies. Wouldn’t say anything if he had a mouthful. I do think he’s got good huddle presence and acts like he’s been there before, but he’s not a chatterbox like Vontaze Burfict or Adam Jones. The coaches feel that Germaine can develop like safety Shawn Williams and Sam Hubbard as an effective leader on defense, but time will tell. And Zac –like any coach - would like to add some vocal guys. As long as they can play, too.
Through injuries not only from last years draft, but also to our stars. Our first year coach took a mediocre team and lead them to an abysmal season? What have we to look forward to? Shane Gregerson, Thornton, CO
SHANE: I wish the opener was next week. I love watching the 49ers and they were 4-12 last season. They’ve proven you can get good quickly once you get your systems installed and playing for at least a season while adding some players. Now that Taylor has had a year to get his offense and defense going, I think that’s very interesting.
How many teams have one of the best running backs in the league (and maybe the deepest backfield) in Joe Mixon teamed with a Hall-of-Fame wide receiver in A.J. Green? Two 1,000-yard receivers with Green and Tyler Boyd and a 1,500-yard rusher (if you double Mixon’s second half) working behind the offensive line we’ve talked about and that’s really interesting. And now there’s a buzz about maybe adding a Heisman Trophy quarterback with those guys? Heck, forget the ’19 Niners. Look what the ’11 Bengals did.