Hobson's Choice: Right call?

Geoff: Unless I'm not up on current events and Shaun Alexander already signed with another team, wouldn't he be a better fit than Benson? Brad, Moreno Valley, CA BRAD:
You're up to date, but at age 31, the Bengals have to be thinking the classy and local Alexander is out of date because he would have been here in the spring after he worked out.

From what people are saying about Benson's workout on Tuesday, it was lights out.

Quickness. Body lean. Conditioning. What they saw was a fourth pick in the draft that doesn't turn 26 until the last day of the season and it was a no brainer. From what can be deduced, the coaching staff was in all the way once they saw him on the field and Brat's comments certainly reflect that.

I know what you're saying. The U.S.S. Bad Guys needed Benson like another torpedo. Not only did he have the alcohol-related arrests, but he was knocked for being indifferent and aloof in Chicago.

Why, why, you say, do they continually do this to themselves? They send a gold-plated invitation to the media to abuse them about once a month when they bring in another guy with a past. It's something you have to ask.

But here is where some people, maybe even in the national media where the Bengals have become a stock laugh line, may need an update on current events.

And this isn't to condone what went on here from December of 2005 through January of 2007 when there were 14 arrests. Ridiculous. But it's also not 2006, either.

In the last 18 months, many teams have gone past the Bengals with their off-field problems while no Bengal player in the last two seasons has been involved in an incident that has resulted in a conviction.

Three of the four incidents involve players no longer here and all four incidents (Chris Henry, former linebacker A.J. Nicholson, former running back Quincy Wilson, and former linebacker Ahmad Brooks) have been dismissed.

Of course, no incident would be preferable. But one look at teams like Jacksonville and San Diego tells you it's a league-wide thing and that the Bengals have made a dogged effort to rectify the situation by putting more resources into player programs.

Where they get in trouble is continually bringing in guys with previous problems, like Henry and fifth-rounder Jason Shirley, which obscures their dip in off-field problems.

The grand jury failed to indict Benson on both arrests, a pretty clear statement of innocence and the NFL said it won't discipline him, and that had to be a factor in the Bengals' decision.

Yeah, no question that Alexander, once the cover guy of the league for his commitment to humanity, would have been a nice fit for a lot of reasons with the local angle high on the list.

But after just letting go Rudi Johnson because he couldn't get back on the practice field with a hamstring issue, you can't see them going after a 31-year-old coming off a couple of injury-plagued seasons.

I hear you on the character issue. But to be fair to the club, it's not what it was two years ago.

Particularly after the last three drafts brought in solid guys like Andrew Whitworth, Leon Hall, Keith Rivers and Domata Peko, and they beefed up their emphasis of off-field issues.

I think a lot of these factors went into the Benson thing, plus the fact that he's healthy, young and could be a warm body right away on Sunday.

Right move?

Got a year to find out?

*As I watch this play calling every Sunday I am disgusted! Am I the only person who has noticed when we run the ball.....WE LOSE!!!

We have two of the best receivers in the league and they do not even get the ball thrown their way.

And don't give me "they are getting doubled" stuff. Give them the opportunity to make the play. They are getting paid the most for a reason and have been selected year after year to the Pro Bowl for a reason. Stop the madness and throw the ball 50 times so we can win a game before I die!!* Tom M., Rochester, N.Y. TOM:
Fifty times? What would you like Carson Palmer's tombstone to read? They're having trouble protecting him when they throw it 25 times.

I won't give you the "doubled stuff," but I will give you the fact that physically these wideouts weren't in Pro Bowl form when the season started because of injury and some saw it as a wise move to keep it on the ground early. Particularly against the NFL's three best pass rush teams in the first three games. When they did get open for a long shot, many times Palmer was under attack.

You make a good point. Their strengths are their receivers, so aren't they killing themselves by running the ball? And they look to be coming back into form, but it was tough to tell without Palmer in there against the Browns last Sunday.

But just look at last year. No running game and when they threw it 52 times against Arizona, 44 times in the second Pittsburgh game, and 31 times against Frisco, the offense was just as bad as it is now. In those 12 quarters they scored four TDs. The linebackers run 20 yards backward with no run threat.

There has to be balance and, unfortunately, there is. They can't run it or pass it. But to me the most disturbing thing is not the commitment to the running game but the lack of it. The answer isn't to chuck it 50 times, but to get the running game fixed before Palmer's window closes.

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