The Bengals have to show whether they can keep Andy Dalton upright. You know the facts: Dalton was sacked 41 times last season and the two best offensive linemen the Bengals had took the money and ran. Should they have shown Andrew Whitworth the money or Kevin Zeitler the crazy money? We'll find out shortly, and with that, whether or not the national lack of love for the Bengals is justified.
That is where profootballfocus.com has the Bengals projected this season. And a hint before you click, it's not anywhere around the NFL playoffs next January. Everybody loves A.J. Green. Everyone thinks if Tyler Eifert stays healthy, for once, the Bengals could be lethal. But it's almost universal concern about the Bengals' ability to block.
For better or worse, all of that is left in the hands of Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, take in rounds one and two, respectively, in the 2015 NFL draft. It was on that draft day when the fate of Whitworth and Andre Smith was determined. Zeitler was allowed to walk when the Browns, desperate for any relevance in the NFL, lured the Big KZ to the Lake with $60 million. And magically -- or more likely buyer's remorse by the Vikings -- Smith is back in stripes. They'll try him a right guard to start. But in a league of mobile guards, the Bengals will quickly figure out that Smith is probably better at right tackle. All of which creates uncertainty. And like Wall Street, the one thing football prognosticators hate more than anything is uncertainty.
Maybe the smart guys at Paul Brown Stadium were attacking their protection problems in another way. Rather than blocking help, like former Alabama tight end O.J. Howard, the Bengals opted for speed and diversity in this year's draft. They took the speed of John Ross and the ball skills of Joe Mixon rather than taking a more conventional approach. Add speed, add diversity and watch how reticent safeties are to blitz.
Whatever it may be, there will be a lack of belief in the Bengals until they prove they can protect Dalton. It may take a preseason worth of games or the first full month of the games that count.
And there are differing opinions inside the editorial room at USA Today when it comes to the Bengals.
But here's where today's NFL is: You can't predict the outcome of games week to week, let alone more than two months before a season begins. The NFL isn't a season with 16 weeks, it is 16 different events inside of a season. There are a lot of factors that go into which teams wins or loses a game. But there is no bigger factor than injuries. You tell me if Dalton and Green are going to be healthy on Dec. 4 when the Bengals play the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. You tell me if Ben Roethlisberger is playing in that game or if Le'Veon Bell is out. Predict which players will be healthy or out, and I'll tell you who'll win. Hint: You can't and I won't until then.
Homer Bailey pitched like a top-of-the-rotation guy when he toyed with the Colorado Rockies Tuesday night. Bailey went six innings, allowed one run and whiffed three. He didn't walk anyone and bagged his first Major League win since last Aug. 12.
Bailey lasted three innings and just one and a third in his first start of this season. I didn't judge Bailey on those two starts, nor will I judge him on his latest. Here's the deal with pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery -- you get results all over the map initially.
Chances are, Bailey has another start like Tuesday night's in his future. Chances are, he's got a few clunkers in his arm as well. The stats don't lie -- the median number of innings a pitcher will throw in the rest of his MLB career after Tommy John surgery is about 100, total. The Reds won't cut and run from Bailey. They owe him, at the very least, almost $56 million. They've spent the money, so they will ride it out...
If the Reds trade Zack Cozart -- and that's a huge if since the trade market is hardly robust -- then I think the Reds have plenty of options. Jose Peraza can play shortstop. So can Eugenio Suarez. Scooter Gennett has earned a chance to be the everyday second baseman. And Nick Senzel could be in Cincinnati as the starting third baseman by opening day 2018.
Robust market or not, the Reds have to trade Cozart. You simply can't let him walk at the end of this season. If you make him a qualifying offer, how much sense does it make to pay a 32-year-old shortstop $12 million next season. If you're Cozart, why would you take a one-year qualifying offer after coming off a career year? He's going...
Fifty-four years ago today, the James Brown album "Live At The Apollo" went to No. 2 on the Billboard charts. Here's a little taste of it.
At the time, Brown was one of the biggest recording stars in the world. And he recorded all of his music here in Cincinnati at King Records.
But the owner of that label, Syd Nathan, thought recording a live album was nothing more than a grand waste of money. In fact, at that time, albums were considered an afterthought. Most of the labels made their money from 45 rpm singles. So Nathan said no when Brown suggested recording a live album in a New York City theater. Brown said fine and then paid for the recording himself.
That happened on the night of Oct. 24, 1962. It turned out to be the biggest-selling album in the history of King Records.
Backed by his then band, "The Famous Flames," and edited by legendary King A&R man Gene Redd, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.