Happy Veterans Day Weekend, Cincinnati

It’s Friday and my mind is focused on a three day weekend, but I did want to impart some thoughts on the world of Cincinnati sports for this weekend.

The Bearcats football team has a massive matchup this Saturday night. USF comes into Cincinnati an underdog, but I do not believe they’re as bad as the line (UC favored by two touchdowns), but this is definitely a winnable game for UC. It all comes down to focus. Luke Fickell had the boys ready for Navy’s triple option offense, a running attack that put up the loftiest rushing total by an opponent in Bearcats history, last year. This year, though, the Bearcats held them to just over two yards a carry. Now Fickell has to keep his team reigned in as they approach a monster matchup with the best team in the conference, the “defending national champion” Central Florida Knights. South Florida is not good in the cold, and it will be coooooold tomorrow night. Still, the Bearcats cannot take them for granted, as the Bulls were undefeated and ranked in the Top-25, as soon as three weeks ago.

The Xavier Musketeers play their second game of the season on Saturday, against Evansville. Another solid mid-major opponent for the Muskies to grow against. The question will be, will Naji Marshall return to the floor in this one? Didn’t have him in the opener and they got by, it will be difficult against a solid squad from the Missouri Valley Conference. The Men of Steele found a way to win, forcing turnovers late, we will see if that trend continues. Xavier hasn’t had a good defense in the past few years, but if they consistently force turnovers, there’s your defense.

The Cincinnati professional football team may be smashed this Sunday. They may also (tiny chance) win. The New Orleans professional football team is really good. They have a future hall of famer at quarterback and, possibly, a future hall of famer at coach. They have oodles of talent at running back and wide receiver. They are also coming off a huge win to knock the Los Angeles professional football team off their undefeated pedestal and have to travel to a non-conference opponent and play in dismal weather. Not the brightest, most motivational backstory for the fleur de lis-wearing pigskin professionals, but they are a much better team (given injuries) than that of the Orange and Black. Honestly, if Marvin Lewis’ men come out on top, I will be pleasantly surprised, but if they don’t it won’t even phase me. The all-important game for the Bengals is next week, in Baltimore, against the Ravens. So long as they don’t come out of this week’s game with even more injuries than they are already plagued with, I think they’ll be fine. Also, a personal reason I wouldn’t mind the Bengals losing, is I will be at a wedding watching on my phone. Shout out to Zack on his big day (holler at me if you actually read this, bro).

Two Reds rumors circulating have me feeling a certain way. The first is that some teams are interested in Eugenio Suarez. Well, so are we in Cincinnati, frankly, and I do not want to see him traded. The other rumor is very encouraging, and that is the Cleveland Indians are open to trading away their ace, Corey Kluber. Now, it will require a king’s ransom, but go for it, Reds! He is one of the best pitchers in the game. He will cost a few top prospects, but he is also the kind of pitcher who will bring the wins. He’s under control for a few years, so it won’t be a rental, which gives the Reds the perfect pitcher to build their rotation around. Plus, I am sure Derek Johnson will enjoy having a vet like Kluber to be the “stopper” of the rotation. I am a Cincinnati sports optimist, to a fault, but I am excited by what’s going on around Great American Ballpark.

Here’s to a three-day weekend, for some of us and Happy Veteran’s Day!

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Monday Musings

It’s Monday morning (at time of writing) and my mind is in a bit of an entanglement.

Firstly, AJ Green is hurt. The report says “some games” which is about as vague as the chances I give the Bengals of beating the Saints, without him. Apparently, he hurt it in the last game before the bye, whenever he got up grabbing at his toe. Some reports say that, after the game, AJ mentioned stubbing it and he’ll be fine. Then he was seen at PBS in a walking boot. Now they’re saying multiple games will be missed. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots and see that Tyler Boyd will be Andy Dalton’s number one target for the Saints game, the Ravens game, and maybe beyond that. In a league where the slimmest of margins separate wildcard teams from teams who finish 7-9, losing AJ really blurs that line for Cincinnati.

The Reds are being linked to a number of different free agents, and it’s got me excited. Sure, I looked at season tickets and realized peons like me aren’t meant to afford that regality (plus, different ticket apps make it cheaper and easier to go to the games I want, anyway) and the Opening Day tickets available on websites start at $150, right now, as the “market” preys on overenthusiastic instant-gratification junkies. That being said, I’m all in on Redsfest coming at the end of November and will probably type up a few words on it, too. I’d love to meet Dallas Keuchel, or Patrick Corbin, or even Nathan Eovaldi, but we’ll see. The powers that be for the oldest professional base-ball franchise have said they’ll break the bank. But whether it’s a bigger crack in the piggy bank or a full blown shattered oinker, remains to be seen.

I plan on writing more about this next thought, so I’ll be brief, but college basketball is back, baby, and this fool just got cable. Hope my wife is ready to hear lots squeaking sneakers and swishing nets!

UC football is back ranked in the Top-25 with a pair of games against good Florida football teams (USF and UCF). That being said, they get the lesser of two Florida’s at home, this Saturday, in a game I think they have a much better shot at winning than I did in August. Then comes the monster that is UCF. 21-straight wins (maybe 22 by next week) will face off against the Luke Fickell reclamation project. Coach Fick has built the Cats into bonafide football players in just a year and a half, and may be the next name to be plucked from Clifton to a big time job. Nobody, including me, saw the success he’s had this year as possible, and yet here we are. We could be talking about a 10-win Bearcats football side, come December, and that is magnificent.

I’m still on about Bohemian Rhapsody. What a film. Been listening to Queen all weekend.

Also, playing Red Dead 2 any chance I get. It’s so simple and yet so fantastic. Much like many a good Western flick. One of the latest “missions,” or maybe stories is a better term for them, that I completed was one where your character gets drunk, but has to keep his other drunk friend out of trouble, and then run from Johnny-Law. Rockstar just knows how to make an entertaining video game.

Right, well, back to Monday, I suppose.

The Bengals Ahead of the Draft: Addition, Subtraction

The Draft is officially eight days away, so let’s talk some Bengals. Over the next week there will be a handful of writings and musings dealing with the Orange and Black.Today I’d like to introduce a guest poster to Frederick’s Folio: Kyle. This will be part one of a two-part piece that Kyle has written.

This has been the most exciting Bengals offseason in recent memory. In the next few paragraphs I will give a realistic fan view and breakdown of the offseason. I will try to keep my opinions as unbiased as possible.

In this first part, Kyle looks at who joined the Bengals, who left, and he gives an overall grade for the offseason, thus far.

Key Offseason Additions:

Cordy Glenn – LT – acquired via trade from Buffalo

Tyler Eifert – TE – retained FA

Preston Brown – MLB – signed FA

Matt Barkley – QB – signed FA

Chris Baker – DT – signed FA

Teryl Austin – Defensive Coordinator

Frank Pollack – Offensive Line Coach

Let’s start with the trade that brought us (when healthy) a top 15 starting LT in Cordy Glenn. Based off of team need and what was given up/exchanged in the trade I feel like the Bengals made a great deal. There are some concerns though as in the last few seasons Glenn has had some injury and durability issues. If Glenn can stay healthy and Ogbuehi can develop into a starting caliber RT, this line should move from the cellar to the top 10 in the NFL. Grade: A

I was happy that the Bengals were able to re-sign Tyler Eifert. When healthy he has the skills and ability to be an All-Pro. I believe the Bengals should only use Eifert in the red zone, on 3rd and longs, 4th downs and potential game winning drives in order to help keep him healthy for a whole season. I know that realistically this is a farfetched idea and they’re not paying close to $10 million this year to have him on a snap count. Grade: B

Preston Brown should help the defense tremendously. If you watched any Bengals game last year it was obvious that outside of Burfict, tackling was a major issue. Brown tied for the lead in tackles last year and has the most tackles by any player since joining the league in 2014. My concern with Brown is that I find myself wondering what kind of baggage he’s bringing. Based off of his production it’s fascinating that he wasn’t drawing more interest in the open market. Grade: B+

Matt Barkley brings some veteran experience with him but never lived up to his USC hype. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Barkley cut by the end of the preseason. Grade: C-

The Chris Baker signing could turn out to be a great under the radar signing if he can get back to the same form that he displayed in Washington. Or the rumors end up being true that he is now lazy and no longer able to play at a high level. The good news is that the Bengals could release him without taking a notable cap hit. Grade: C

I am extremely happy that the Bengals brought in a new defensive coordinator in Teryl Austin. Guenther’s play calling, decision making and scheme were overall terrible. He was never able to get the most of the skill players like Dunlap, Atkins and Burfict. Grade: B+

Frank Pollack might be the most underrated offseason acquisition by any team. He is the architect behind the dominant Dallas Cowboys offensive line of the past few years. I believe he will make Ogbuehi a starting caliber RT and groom a rookie C into a starter. Grade: A

Key Offseason Losses:

Adam Jones – CB – released

AJ McCarron – QB – signed with Buffalo

Jeremy Hill – RB – signed with New England

Russell Bodine – C – signed with Buffalo

Chris Smith – DE – signed with Cleveland

Adam Jones is a player that I still think can contribute to a team. His time in Cincinnati is up though due to the emergence of William Jackson. With Dennard having his best season in 2017 and the Bengals singing Kirkpatrick to a long term deal, the writing was on the wall for “Pacman”. Love him or hate him you can’t argue that Jones was a huge reason why the Bengals defense was able to play at such a high level for a few years. I think he would be best utilized in a defense that plays a lot of zone and he still has the ability to contribute on special teams. I like the fact that a hot head is now gone and we get younger at the position. Grade: B+

The AJ McCarron saga is one that perturbs many fans. A lot of people wanted AJ to get his shot while Dalton struggled heavily the last two seasons. As a Bengals fan the thing that makes me angry is the fact that McCarron walked in free agency without the Bengals getting some type of return on their investment. Clearly the coaching staff and front office weren’t committed to McCarron. In spite of this they weren’t able to get a trade done for a player that many teams considered to be a starter. Grade: F

In 2014, Jeremy Hill looked like he would be the franchise running back that the Bengals have been missing out on since Corey Dillon and to a lesser degree, Rudi Johnson (people easily forget how dominant Rudi was in 4 straight seasons from 2003-2006). Unfortunately Hill was never able to recapture his rookie season magic. He’s a player that I hope does well with his new team but I’m glad Cincinnati moved on from. Grade: B

Russell Bodine is a tough one to grade in terms of value to the Bengals. Many people considered him to be a weak link on the offensive line. Considering how poorly the line played as a whole in 2017, the fact that he was singled out as a weak link is really bad. PFF has Bodine ranked as the 25th best center in 2017 with an overall poor rating. Watching him over the past 4 seasons has always left something to be desired. He was serviceable but shouldn’t have been a regular starter. He did play in every game since being drafted and now the Bengals look to the draft or turn to the center that Bodine beat out to claim the starter spot. Grade: B+

Last year the Bengals made a trade with Jacksonville and brought in Chris Smith. Smith only had 3 sacks in 2017 but he was constantly collapsing the pocket and putting pressure on the QB. For the 2nd straight year Smith becomes the casualty of a deep depth chart at DE. The Bengals are going to give Lawson and Willis more reps and still have Dunlap and Johnson as starters. I personally would have liked to see the Bengals work out a 2 year deal with Smith and move on from Johnson. The worst part about this is the fact that the Bengals will now have to face Smith twice a year in the foreseeable future. Grade: C

Overall Offseason Grade: A-