Hobson's Choice: Bengaldom Feels Draft

Bengals quarterback Jake Dolegala (7) throws a pass during the first half of the team's NFL preseason football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Frank Victores)
Jake Dolegala has the physical tools.

The Bengals keep Jake Dolegala on the 53 man roster but have not allowed him to play in a regular season game. He was better than Finley in the preseason, so why not play him in the regular season that’s now for evaluations of players? Scott Farkas, Worthington, OH

SCOTT: They like both Finley and Dolegala, but you might get some push back on who had a better preseason. Here are the stats: Finley was 47 of 64 for 414 yards, three TDs and a pick and a 99.4 passer rating. Dolegala was 37 of 53 for 347 yards, two TDs, 0 picks and a passer rating of 100.1. Finley threw more passes for a higher completion percentage against a higher cut of talent. He played in three pre-season games, Dolegala two with most of his work in the largely forgettable finale. I also think they’d tell you that Finley was more advanced in the schematics of the game as befitting a fourth-rounder that had 46 games at Boise and North Carolina State compared to an undrafted guy that had 48 games at Central Connecticut State.

All that said, getting quarterbacks ready in the NFL is difficult. It is hard getting two ready in the regular season, just given the limited snaps in practice. Dolegala showed real physical talent and that’s why they kept him. He’s worth developing. But in terms of “playing now”, I think you have to go back to what head coach Zac Taylor said last Monday – he wants to get his program rolling by establishing some winning football, and that means Dalton. So it’s the Coach’s call, and he values wins over developing a young quarterback who may actually benefit more from time. Don’t forget that Carson Palmer did not take a snap his rookie year.

Front office doesn’t change their structure. 7 above 500 hundred seasons in 30 years. 3 ways to build a roster; refuse to participate in 2 of those. Only one they go with is draft, they have whiffed 4 straight years. You are good with this? Jason Vaught, Cincinnati, OH

JASON: I’ll quibble with you on one statement there. They have changed their front office structure. It’s not what it was 30 years ago or even 12 years ago. They began moving to a more scouting-centric draft about ten years ago and it paid dividends with a roster that secured five straight postseasons and had enough talent that from 2013-2015 the pundits regularly called them one of the most talented teams in the league.

The more fair criticism seems to me to be that they hung on to their 2015 core too long. I wouldn’t say that drafts that gave you Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon, Sam Hubbard, Carl Lawson, Andrew Billings, Renell Wren, Brandon Wilson and Clayton Fejedelem were whiffs. The most recent first-rounders haven’t produced enough yet, so “some good, some not.”

In terms of “change”, if you’re going to be fair, the Bengals blew up their entire football operation like they’ve never done before back in January. No question. A work in progress. But they’re also coming off their biggest coaching overhaul ever. So the “no change” argument is a tough sell.

I’d also quibble about your observation they don’t participate in trades. Just look at their last draft. They traded in round two, traded up for Finley in round four, and traded up for Michael Jordan in round four, and traded late picks. So the trade thing does happen.

Happy Thanksgiving, Appreciate your work! Will the bengals alter their approach in the offseason?Bengals basically need to be perfect drafting. That isn’t realistic.Will they be more active in FA to fill holes created by bad drafts? Maan Aboulhosn, Titusville, FL

MAAN: Thank you, thanks for reading and appreciating and hope all is well with you and yours. You’ve asked one of the biggest questions facing this team heading into January. Since they’ve had a play-off core, they’ve done some free agency, but not much. Should they do more?

Here is how they have viewed free agency. They see batting averages in free agency typically lower across the board than they are in the draft. They ask, which batting average do you want? They’ll point at the two big linebacker free agents this past offseason, C.J. Mosley with the Jets ($85 million) and Kwon Alexander with the Niners ($52 million). Both are out for the year. Hurt. On Sunday, Mosley got as many snaps as A.J. Green.

The model for many teams going with a rookie quarterback with a first contract is to delve into free agency because you have money freed up for veterans to put around him. In the past, the Bengals have invested in their own veterans because they have a higher success rate, but if you are re-tooling, then perhaps the question gets revisited. The Bengals thought wide receiver was going to be a strength with Green, John Ross and Tyler Boyd. But injuries derailed the first two.

So, yes, the Bengals are faced with a decision and we’ll see what they do.

Happy Thanksgiving Geoff! So glad we're going back to AD! I would like to stick with Andy for another year. Hopefully draft Chase Young and trade back into the first and grab an OL upgrade, and hopefully bring in some quality LB's. Thx, Dan Hurst, Franklin, OH

DAN: Thanks for the holiday wishes and the same to you. I’ll tell you, that’s not a bad thought. You know me. I’m not one to throw away veteran quarterbacks with winning records. See you in ten years. And I love Young. They haven’t drafted a pass rusher No. 1 since 2001.

But my sense is that the Bengals want to go big and fast. They want to turn the thing around now. They’ve got a head coach they hired to get them back into the swim schematically. That sounds like a quarterback to me if they have the faith in Taylor to get it out of him and it sounds like they do.

Now, I also think we have to put on the brakes. Let them go through the scouting and vetting process. Let them take a look at Young. Maybe there’s a worthy QB there. Maybe they think not. Who knows? Maybe the quickest way to build that team is to deal the first pick and not make it. Get Young AND the O-Lineman together, right?

But look, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We don’t even know what pick they’ll get or if they’ll like any of these QBs. See you in Mobile at the Senior Bowl.

Hi Hobson,

I want to know, Is there any chance that the Bengals expect a big day from Andy Dalton against the Jets like he had in 2013 when the Bengals hosted the Jets? Patrick Foulke, Springfield, OH

PATRICK: Good memory. On Oct. 27, 2013, Dalton threw for a career-high five TDs in a 49-9 win over the Jets at Paul Brown Stadium. That’s not going to happen against the NFL’s No. 8 defense. Dalton did that against the NFL’s No. 31 defense and the closest thing to that defense and this one is both had a guy whose first name begins with Q: Quinton Coples in 2013 and Quinnen Williams on Sunday.

They’ll take that 23-22 win over the Jets in the 2016 opener in Jersey, except it won’t have Green’s 180 yards. But give me 130 yards from wide receiver Tyler Boyd, a red-zone TD from Tyler Eifert and 80 steel-belted rushing yards from Joe Mixon on 27 carries, another Shawn Williams red-zone pick and Dalton stays undefeated against the Jets.

Will A.J. play this year? James McVey, Land O Lakes, FL

JAMES: That’s the $64,000 question if you’re of a certain age. You know what we know. He says he wants to play. Taylor hopes he plays. He keeps rehabbing. He keeps not practicing. He keeps trying. All I can tell you is what Taylor said in Wednesday’s news conference when I asked at what point do you shut him down?

“He wants to play. I don’t ‘think’ he does — I know he does. Right now, we continue to carry him (on the roster), and we’re hopeful every week that it may be different, and we’ll take it from there.”

I believe bengals can win with Dalton if line improves. Any thought of drafting Chase Young with number 1 pick rather than a Qb? Ken Taylor, Tuscaloose, AL

KEN: I’m sure that will be a thought. I also know it’s a quarterback-driven league and a quarterback-driven franchise. Like I say, first they have to scout these guys and decide if the quarterbacks are worth more than Young. I imagine it will be a close call. If I had to make an observation now and they think one of the QBs is good enough, I think that’s where they go. But I also know Young is tantalizing for a lot of reasons.

Hi Geoff. Can you give us any update about the actual progress of Jonah Williams? It seems we have heard almost nothing about him. Is he doing any practice field work or lifting? It would be interesting to see him and Glenn together William Evans, Fort Myers, FL

WILLIAM: He is on the rehab field. He’s been in the weight room. He seems to have recovered the way they had hoped when he underwent shoulder surgery. Like everyone else they review his progress daily. But I don’t know if they think he’s ready yet. Since he has yet to start practicing, I would say no.

It would be highly unlikely they’d move Cordy Glenn to guard if Williams came back. That’s a spring-training camp thing. What I’d like to see is a snapshot of the future: Williams at left tackle and fellow rookie Michael Jordan next to him at left guard.

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