CLOSE

Bob Johnson, the Bengals’ first draft pick, and Tom Kinder Jr., the Bengals’ announcer, remember the first season.
The Enquirer/Cara Owsley

The Walkthru is a daily look at the Bengals, your questions and whatever else spills from the brains of beat writers Jim Owczarski and Paul Dehner Jr. You can follow them on Twitter (@pauldehnerjr, @JimOwczarski), Instagram (@enqbengals) as well as Enquirer Sports on Facebook for behind the scenes and breaking news.

After a tough loss to Pittsburgh on Monday and the sudden news about John Ross on Wednesday, I felt it was a good time to get to the fans and open up the mailbag.

Here we go:

We don’t get to see full practices during the season, but from what coaches and players have said he had been practicing much better over the last few weeks. But now we know something was going on at the same time with that shoulder. Once he got healthy earlier in the season, even Ross admitted he had some work to do with evening out his performances and being consistent. I do think he was “getting it” and would have seen the field when the team was eliminated from the playoffs officially, but obviously, the shoulder turned into a bigger problem than many knew.

You get a two-for because like this question. It’s legitimate. The numbers don’t lie. Honestly, the easy answer can be “when Ben Roethlisberger retires.” He’s a Hall of Famer and the best quarterback in the division and his record against Cincinnati, Cleveland and Baltimore (heading into this weekend) is a ridiculous 54-18. Now, he’s 11-9 against Baltimore, and I’d argue that through his career the Ravens have had better defenses. Unless the Steelers pull a Colts and a Packers and draft an immediate All-Pro right after him, a window will open when he’s done.

But honestly, I think it’s an intangible thing – at some point, the Bengals just have to make some plays. I could argue the Bengals roster has been as good or better the last few years. Now, some may point to the head coach because I said that but I’m one of those guys that believe that sometimes, players need to win a game.

Now for the topic heavy on the minds of many: Marvin Lewis.

Well, if he was back after the 2010 season I can see a scenario that he is back in 2018 because there has been development of young players and I do think the team will win more than the six games they did a year ago. Honestly, if this team gets to 8-8 from an 0-3 hole, that’s a heck of a coaching job. But I think both parties would have to want it and I think there would be staff changes – either as a condition of return, by Lewis’ choice or even by the choice of assistants who might get opportunities elsewhere.  

Honestly, it’s an impossible question to answer at this juncture. Who’s to say he’s being replaced? There are only a few guys out there who are currently unemployed (for a reason, mind you) and I can’t sit here and pretend to know who is resigning, being fired or just leaving their current situations.  

Since there is no contract currently on the books for 2018 so no one would be let go. So, should either party (or both parties) choose to move on, it’ll be respectful. As for the timeline (should that happen), there are some “industry standards” if you will – which is usually pretty quick, within a couple weeks. That’s if you’re looking for a coordinator or assistant who is not progressing through the playoffs. The New York Giants have already started their search. Another few openings may occur before then, but maybe not. And if a half dozen or so more openings occur, the Bengals would presumably enter a bidding war for a candidate. What will be interesting to see is if they zero in on a candidate in the playoffs and decide to wait it out like San Francisco did with Kyle Shanahan a year ago.

Why wouldn’t they look all over the league? Lewis was an “outside” hire. So was Jay Gruden. Mike Zimmer. Hue Jackson. Vance Joseph. Bill Lazor. To assume the organization would be so narrow in a search would be folly.

Internally, coordinators Paul Guenther and Darrin Simmons should be interviewed.

Guenther, 46, has been with the team since 2005 as a position coach and an assistant on special teams. He has worked on the offensive side of the ball in Washington and has head coaching experience at the collegiate level. The team blocked him from taking a job in Washington with Jay Gruden at the start of this year, so he there already is established interest in him. He’s had defenses ranked second, eighth and 12th in scoring and this year’s group is 10th.

Simmons, 44, has been with the team since 2003 but also has experience in other organizations, though he has been on special teams his entire career. That has him working with the largest group on the team and having to connect with offensive and defensive players.

Pro Bowl update

With one week remaining in the Pro Bowl fan vote, Geno Atkins is the only Bengal currently leading his position in votes, topping all AFC defensive tackles with 179,504 votes. He is third in overall voting at that position, behind Philadelphia’s Fletcher Cox and Los Angeles’ Aaron Donald.

Cox is the No. 1 vote-getter at that position with 20,085 more votes than Atkins.

Wide receiver A.J. Green is currently sixth overall in the voting at that position and third in the AFC behind Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown and Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins.

No other Bengal is in the top 10 in fan voting at his position.

The rosters will be announced on Dec. 19.

Should Green make the game this season, it will be his seventh trip and move him into second place all-time in franchise history behind Anthony Munoz (11). It would be Atkins’ sixth trip, tying with Lemar Parrish and Chad Johnson.

In case you missed it

Bengals new video of the day

CLOSE

A look at some of the NFL’s most influential innovations that have ties to the Cincinnati Bengals, including the “West Coast” offense, the Zone Blitz, the No-Huddle and the Isaac Curtis rule. Former Bengals players and coaches share their stories.
The Enquirer/Mike Nyerges

Bengals old video of the day

Tweet of the day

Michael Johnson continuing to make a difference in Cincinnati

Instagram of the day

Around the division

Baltimore: John Harbaugh is the coach of the year at this point. But I have a feeling if the Ravens upset the Steelers we’ll hear how they did notice these comments from Mike Tomlin.

Cleveland: Gotta shoot for something.

Pittsburgh: Northern Kentucky native and Ohio U. alumnus (and usually, Steelers Public Enemy No. 1 in Cincinnati) Mike Mitchell had some strong things to say about the violence of the game following the physical Monday night game. Good stuff.

And finally

John Ross hopes his 2018 is like William Jackson III’s 2017.