Can’t you feel it in the air? It’s cliché season!
Let’s start this column off with a little game. Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson used a cliché while addressing the media earlier this week. Which one was it? Remember to let the theme music from Jeopardy play while you make your decision.
A) Leave no stone unturned
B) Opening a can of worms
C) Opening Pandora’s box
D) Reinventing the wheel
If you chose C, you are correct! Bravo. Here is the exact quote from Jackson: “We're going to open Pandora's box more. We tickled it a little bit last year. We're going to open it up a little bit more this year and be who I think we can be.”
It’s easy to dismiss this as generic coach-speak (because that’s exactly what it is) but Jackson’s well-placed cliché gives us an opportunity to look at one of the league’s most promising offenses. It begins with Andy Dalton, a two-time Pro Bowler (seriously) with 99 career touchdown passes. That’s more than Tom Brady had in his first four seasons as a starter (97). Despite these accolades, Dalton has never won in the playoffs (0-4) and produced one of the worst games in NFL history last year against Cleveland (2.0 passer rating).
Depending on how you look at it, Dalton is either the worst good quarterback in the league or the NFL’s best bad quarterback. Regardless, head coach Marvin Lewis likes what he’s seen from Dalton this offseason. “He’s always been a very accurate passer, but his anticipation continues to grow and get better,” said Lewis. “As he goes, he spurs the rest of the team on. They have to play up to his standard and he has a very high standard that way. And that’s very helpful to us.”
The Bengals certainly aren’t short on offensive weaponry. Superstar wideout A.J. Green managed to reach 1,000 yards for the fourth year in a row last season, even while missing three games with a toe injury. The 26-year-old has even more to play for in 2015 as he enters the final year of his rookie deal.
Jeremy Hill, the NFL’s leading rusher among rookies last year, is back to team up with passing down specialist Giovani Bernard. With Green drawing most of the coverage downfield, Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones should get their fair share of open looks. If everyone stays healthy, the Bengals will have a great chance to improve on the 22.8 ppg they averaged last season.
The Bengals open training camp Friday at Paul Brown Stadium.
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“Right now, we’re focused on getting the team ready for the 2015 season.”
Illuminating as always, Bill.
Fortunately for the purpose of writing this article, Brady wasn’t as tight-lipped. The quarterback took to Facebook to voice his opinion Wednesday, saying he was “disappointed” the league decided to uphold his suspension. Brady was particularly adamant in denying that he intentionally destroyed his cell phone: “To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong.” Brady said he only replaced his phone after lawyers told him it wouldn’t be needed for the investigation.
Brady’s agent, Don Yee, had a feeling the public would blow the phone issue out of proportion. “They shifted from PSI to the new shiny object, the cell phone,” said Yee. “We expected this. Because this was the easy way to pivot off the junk science and get off the PSI issue.”
The NFL Players Association wasted no time in taking the case to district court. Judge David Doty, who presides over U.S. district court in Minnesota, was asked to make a ruling before September 4 so Brady won’t have to miss practice ahead of September 10’s season opener against Pittsburgh. Doty could also grant Brady an injunction, allowing him to play until a decision is reached. Doty, of course, was the same judge who overturned Adrian Peterson’s suspension earlier this year.
It might work out for Brady in the end, but Patriots owner Robert Kraft is furious that it’s gotten to this point. “I was wrong to put my faith in the league,” said Kraft. “The decision handed down by the league yesterday is unfathomable to me.”
Ultimately the commissioner did what he had to do to protect his image. Upholding the ban was a win/win for Roger Goodell. Scrapping Brady’s suspension entirely would have made him look weak and probably would have infuriated the 31 other franchises the Patriots have tormented over the last decade.
Now Brady’s fate is in Judge Doty’s hands. Brady might eventually get his way but Goodell was still able to hold his ground. After botching the Ray Rice scandal, Goodell will take any small victory he can, even if it means taking a year to settle something as minor as an underinflated football. It’s already been six months, but who’s counting?
Quick Hits: Former Dolphins and Rams OT Jake Long will visit the Broncos later this week. He met with the Giants on Wednesday but left without signing a contract … According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland’s Trent Richardson experiment is “not going so well.” T-Rich hasn’t averaged more than 3.6 yards per carry in any of his three seasons … Remember Miami’s old logo with the dolphin wearing a helmet? It’s coming back. The Dolphins will wear special throwback uniforms December 14 when they host the Giants on Monday Night Football … Chiefs SS Eric Berry was back at practice on Wednesday. He missed the end of last season while undergoing cancer treatment. His words to live by: “Fear nothing, attack everything” … Redskins OLB Ryan Kerrigan agreed to a five-year, $57.5 million extension on Wednesday. He led Washington with 13.5 sacks last season … OLB Junior Galette will visit with the Redskins on Thursday. He was let go by the Saints earlier this month … The Redskins recently put out a report claiming that 7.8 billion people followed their training camp coverage last season. Since Earth only has about 7.2 billion inhabitants, where are the other 600,000 million viewers coming from? Mars? … Jason Pierre-Paul continues to distance himself from the Giants. Instead of using team doctors, he’s been rehabbing on his own … Jerry Jones endorsed Joseph Randle as the Cowboys’ No. 1 running back. Considering the other choices were Lance Dunbar and Darren McFadden, I think he made the right call … Cowboys DE Jeremy Mincey skipped the team’s flight to training camp and is holding out for a new contract. Dallas can fine Mincey up to $30,000 for every day he misses … Jameis Winston said he’s down to 236 pounds. He’s been known to fluctuate between 230 and 250 … Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will not have any restrictions heading into training camp. “We're not counting throws all the time, and it's not a concern as it will be when he's later in his career,” said coach Mike McCarthy … The Cardinals waived CB Alfonzo Dennard on Wednesday. It’s the second team he’s been cut from this offseason … Jen Welter will coach inside linebackers and serve as an intern for the Cardinals during training camp. She’s the first female coach in NFL history … Vikings receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has been practicing with the second team. That’s probably not a great sign … Seattle SS Kam Chancellor isn’t happy with his contract and is contemplating a holdout. Michael Bennett, Bruce Irvin and Russell Wilson have also asked the Seahawks for more money this offseason. Wouldn’t you love to be Seattle’s GM? … Panthers receiver Stephen Hill was cited for possession of drug paraphernalia at a routine traffic stop. A borderline player to begin with, this certainly won’t help his chance at cracking the 53-man roster … Joique Bell (knee/Achilles) will open training camp on the active/PUP list. Second-round pick Ameer Abdullah will get the lion’s share (no pun intended) of Detroit’s first-team reps … Falcons receiver Roddy White will need to have his knee drained periodically throughout the season. The last time he had it drained was during minicamp … CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco believes the 49ers will use “more than one person” in their backfield this year. That’s a fancy way of saying running back by committee … Josh Hill has gotten a lot of ink this offseason, particularly on this website. Unfortunately for fantasy owners, ESPN’s Mike Triplett isn’t as bullish on the Saints tight end. He considers Jeremy Shockey’s 2009 numbers (48 catches, 569 yards, three touchdowns) a “realistic” goal for Hill … Marques Colston (undisclosed) and Jairus Byrd (knee) were both placed on the active/PUP list, though Saints GM Mickey Loomis said “they’ll be ready to roll soon” … Interested in buying Refrigerator Perry’s championship ring? It will be up for auction Thursday at the National Sports Collectors Convention in Chicago. Just be warned, it might not fit you. Perry wears a size 25 … You want to talk about dedication? During OTAs, Eagles receiver Nelson Agoholor arrived at the team’s facility every day at 6:15 a.m. The rookie shuttle didn’t even leave until 7:15.