How could the Bengals go into the
season without replacing the experience they lost at receiver with Carl
Pickens' departure and Darnay
Scott's broken leg? Because they're cheap. Always have been. So
the Bengals sat idly by while other teams scooped up Vincent
Reed and Robert
Brooks when they were available.
The result? Smith has the youngest
group of receivers in the NFL to throw to. Considering he's an
extremely inexperienced quarterback, he's learning on the fly along
with his weapons. He has no safety valve he can always rely on to
bail him out when he gets in hot water. There's a ton of
miscommunication between him and rookie starters Peter Warrick and
Ron Dugans, resulting in many incompletions.
You would figure Warrick would put
up good numbers. How couldn't he? The Bengals will be trailing every
game by halftime and they'll have no choice but to throw the ball on
almost every down. Even with the double coverage he sees, Warrick
should be able to have close to 1,000 yards and six touchdowns.
Dugans is another story. He has
been invisible. He's only caught three balls in two contests so far.
Could he be another Florida State receiver bust along the lines of Tamarick
Vanover and Kez McCorvey? It's too early to tell. James
Hundon would have been a nice insurance policy, but alas, he was
And what about poor Corey
Dillon? How is he supposed to prosper in an offense that has so
much youth in its passing game? He has to face eight-man fronts all
the time. His rushing numbers have been putrid (73 yards in two
games) The Bengals will probably come
together late in the season, as they always do. For the first eight
to 10 games, however, Smith, Dillon, Warrick, Dugans and company are
going to be putting up less than stellar statistics.
Leaf + Mike Riley + No Receivers + No Running Game = The Worst
Offense In Football. Imagine you're the man behind the
management decisions of the Chargers. You're hoping in the preseason
that Ryan Leaf keeps his mouth shut and emerges as your starting
quarterback. That happens. Wouldn't you attempt to make things as
easy as humanly possible for him to succeed, knowing that he would
need all the help he could because the man is a walking time bomb?
Yes, you would.
But you're not running the
Chargers. They decide to saddle Leaf with a running attack led by a
guy -- Robert
Chancey -- who was Dallas' third-string running back in 1999.
They give him Curtis
Conway and Jeff
Graham as his two primary wide receivers. Granted, these two are
more experienced than the pair in Cincy, but Swann and Stallworth
It would have been much better for
Leaf to play with these two five years ago, when they were good. Now
they're overrated, injury-prone and no longer threats.
Add to the mix coach Mike Riley,
who seems a bit impatient when it comes to handling Mr. Leaf. You
don't bench the poor guy after just two games if Moses
Moreno is the next option. Now he's forced to go back to him.
It's a total mess.
Leaf is beginning to crack. His
comments to the media this week about not feeling supported
shouldn't make rotisserie owners of him very happy. Truth is, he's
right. He's been set up to take a big fall for the Chargers'
failures this season. Just pray if you have Leaf in your lineup that
your league doesn't subtract points for interceptions.
The Bengals and Chargers are down
in the dumps and have been for a while now. It's because of the
moves by the front offices that these teams are in such poor shape,
and that the players on the teams have little rotisserie value.
RUN AND SHOOT: In last week's
column, I ripped Minnesota coach Dennis Green for running Robert
Smith too much, going back on his word to lighten his early
season workload. What do I do now? Smith ran the ball 29 times
against New England. At this pace, he'll be found on the injury
report by Week Six.
The knee injury suffered by Buffao
tight end Jay
Riemersma comes at a very unfortunate time. He was ready to jump
into the top five at the tight end position. Luckily, he's only
going to miss five weeks.
Collins might only have 12 career catches, but he does have some
skills. He had a 45-yard reception last year, a rarity for a tight
end. He also had two touchdowns. He could be a good pickup on your
league's waiver wire if you own Riemersma.
And two more receivers bite the
dust. Tennessee's Kevin
Dyson and Chicago's Bobby
Engram went down this week with season-ending injuries, raising
the number of injured receivers to seven and counting. This is
really getting out of hand.
The loss of Dyson makes Chris
Sanders more valuable. He'll probably get a start this week if Yancey
Thigpen can't go because of a tender hamstring. He's good for
only a catch or two per game, but normally his catches are long
ones. This shouldn't really hurt Steve
McNair or Pickens' numbers too much.
Engram was never a huge rotisserie
factor. His eight-catch, 50-yard performances never did much for me.
He did do a good job on third downs, however. Cade
McNown definitely will be affected by his absence.
Kennison. Easily one of the worst rotisserie receivers the past
three years, Kennison now gets another chance with another team to
shine. He failed miserably in St. Louis and New Orleans. There's no
reason to think the same won't happen in Chicago. He's as fast as
the wind, but if you're not strong enough to get off the line and
you run bad routes, speed doesn't mean much. You'd be better off
picking up Marty
Booker, Chicago's other option to replace Engram.