So, the Bengals apparently just will not learn. They refuse to learn. They signed another criminal! Matt Jones! Did some coke! Drank a beer! Same old motherf-ing Bengals, right?
Guhhh. I hate this line of reasoning, as I've expressed previously. I don't really care what these guys do off the field in MOST circumstances. I do understand the fears of a backlash for signing, say, Donte Stallworth. However, the main reason that I would not take this "risk" and sign Stallworth is because he simply isn't that good. He's never been all that great. But Matt Jones? Matt Jones has been pretty good. His last season had very similar stats to that of Santonio Holmes, and they were accumulated over 12 games, as he sat out 4 for a substance abuse suspension. He's pretty good. And he's really tall and fast and wears awesome beaters, as shown above.
Matt Jones did some coke and he was arrested for it, sure. And it was quite a bit of cocaine. 6 grams to be exact. For reference, an 8-ball of coke consists of an eighth of an ounce, or about 3.5 grams. They cost about $250. I'm going to assume that Jones and his cohorts bought two eight-balls and had used a gram when the law showed up on the scene. He had two guys with him. And I'm pretty confident that three somewhat-experienced users can go through an eight-ball (or more) in a single session. While it's probably not good to have a WR that can be described as an "experienced coke user", that's life in the salary-capped NFL. That's how you win. You take chances and hope that they pan out. Jones is coming in at the vet minimum. And he's not going to harm your team on the field, unless he brings 10 grams into the huddle and shares it with the team.
Oddly enough, the Jags had no problem with his coke use. They didn't cut him until he violated his probation by drinking a beer on a golf course. That was the final straw. Sure, it was stupid of him to do, but come on. That's where you draw the line? Let's see what Doug Farrar has to say about the Bengals and their character.
If there's one thing the Cincinnati Bengals have led the NFL in over the last decade, it's arrests. (I stopped counting at ten). The 2009 Bengals made the playoffs for the second time in the last 20 years with more character than they'd had in years -- it was how they could overcome the in-season passings of receiver Chris Henry and the wife of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Oh, last season was their big character year? The year they brought back Chris Henry and drafted Andre Smith? I had thought that 2007 was the first character year, no? What about last year when those Bengals team chemistry-ed their way to a 4-12 season? I'm not buying some newfound chemistry as the reason that this team overcame those tragedies above. Also, they weren't really that great following Henry's death. They couldn't even compete with the Jets. I'm not buying team chemistry as one of the reasons for their resurgence. I think it had to do a lot with some defensive improvements and also due to a good deal of luck following the Denver fluke that beat them in week one. Really, their offense was not that good at any point in the season.
Linebacker Rey Maualuga recently pled guilty to a drunken driving charge, but he responded by arranging to check into the Betty Ford Center, which seems like a standup reaction.
Oh, that's fun. At least he did the stand-up think and took the route that he was likely advised to take because it would look good in court. I'm not going to jump on a guy for a DUI, but dismissing it because he checked into rehab seems a bit disingenuous.
However, if recent news is accurate, we could be looking at a couple of new residents in Marvin Lewis' Home for Troubled NFL Youth. MJD detailed the team's dalliances with Pacman Jones, and Cincy's also been talking with former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones, about a contract (Update: According to several reports coming down the pike Friday morning, Jones chose the Bengals over the Tennessee Titans).
I've already gone over my love affair with the idea of bringing in Pacman Jones. He's not a trouble-maker on the field. Compare this with a guy like Joey Porter, who did assault Levi Jones in a casino but still hasn't made headlines for any egregious legal violation. Yet, the Dolphins can't stand him to the point where they are going to cut him if they haven't already (some weird cap situation is making it difficult). Porter was a malcontent due to the fact that he wasn't being used on every down and he reportedly refused to come off of the field more than once. Imagine Joey Porter refusing to come off of the field when Dick LeBeau tries to insert a sub on 3rd and 12. That's how you set an example for the young guys. I'll take my chances with the coke user.
Jones and Jones are cheap and easy to cut. Joey Porter and a guy like T.O. come with $5 million dollar a year deals and as in Porter's case, are sometimes very difficult to simply release. Take your chances with the cheap guys. You have to with a salary cap in place. You need every edge you can get.
Jones, who's been unemployed since the Jags released him last March, seems like the better risk. Jones had issues with the law (his violation of a plea agreement for "drinking while golfing" is particularly priceless -- I have many friends who subscribe to the theory that if drinking while golfing is wrong, they don't want to be right), and his work ethic has been justifiably questioned, but he's a freakish physical talent who can produce on the rare occasions when his head's been screwed on straight. He caught a career-high 65 passes for 761 yards in 2008, leading the team in both categories, before his story went south. The Bengals are now more of a run-first team than they've been in previous seasons, but they've struggled to find consistent production alongside Chad Ochocinco(notes). If he's seen the errors of his ways and can bring his best to the table, Jones could be an extreme bargain. The reported one-year, $700,000 contract means that the Bengals aren't out too much if they're wrong.
Abso-fucking-lutely. I disagree with his overall tone of "hey, look at the Bengals! Haha they're criminals!", as it's simple and it has been beaten to death over the years, but I think he put it pretty well here. This is low-risk high-reward. I was in the "sign Jones" camp for the Steelers before this past season, although they really didn't need him and as of now I don't want him to impede on Sweed, but for the Bengals? This is perfect for them. Now they can use that draft pick somewhere else. Or at least have some insurance for it. On this note...a perfect LB for the Steelers? Don't laugh, but I'm going to throw out Odell Thurman's name. He'll be league minimum. He's in the UFL and has by all accounts gotten it at this point. And he played well with the Bengals in his rookie year before his DUI troubles. Seems like a common theme. Anyway, I think it would be a good move for the Steelers.
Personally, I'd be more surprised if Pacman Jones catches on with the Bengals beyond a reserve role. Not only is his history of legal issues far more complex, but he did very little in his first comeback with the Cowboys in 2008.
Guh. He did quite well with the Cowboys given the fact that he was out of football for an entire year. Here's what I wrote about Pacman:
"Ok...why did Dallas cut him if he was so good, then?"
I don't know. I can't tell you that. I'm thinking that Jerry Jones simply felt betrayed and that combined with the fact that the Cowboys had a bunch of young corners that they were thrilled with left him to choose cutting PMJ. By many accounts, Pacman was their best corner last year. I don't know why he was cut. Nor do I care at this point.
Again, I don't know what went on there. But I still think he's worth a flyer. Dallas didn't lose any games because Pacman was on the roster.
On top of that, the team is also reportedly interested in receiver Donte Stallworth, who was recently reinstated by Commissioner Roger Goodell after serving 24 days in jail for killing a man while driving drunk. Stallworth was suspended for the 2009 season, was released by the Browns right after his reinstatement, and is on the market. Are the Bengals just doing their due diligence, or are they interested in returning to the worst of their "America's Most Wanted" days?
They want good players at good values. That's it. There is no desire to assemble the most criminally-active team in the NFL. They all just seem to have alcohol problems. Just keep them from going out on Saturday night and I think that they'll be ok. More importantly...they won't lose any games this year because Pacman Jones makes it rain.