Found February 22, 2013 on Fox Sports Ohio:
Cincinnati_bengals_v_f00e
INDIANAPOLIS This is the worst time of the year for Marvin Lewis. The only kind of football is not football at all. "It's all speculative football," said the Bengals' head coach from inside Lucas Oil Stadium. "I know we're in the big show, but it's still speculative football. When we start doing football is when we get to July and August, that's fun. We get to preparing for the season, that's the fun of football." Lewis, the Bengals and the rest of the NFL must settle for starting their annual cycle at the NFL Combine, where prospective players are poked, prodded and scrutinized from all angles in preparation for April's draft. Lewis spoke in front of a gathering of national media and then held court with local reporters Friday. Coming off a 10-6 season and a second consecutive playoff appearance that resulted in a Wild Card loss at Houston, Lewis didn't divulge any trade secrets when it came to which position groups being targeted, the looming prospect of 23 potential free agents or what it will take for the franchise to end its streak of 22 consecutive seasons without a playoff victory. "You have to have more points than the team you are playing in the playoffs," said Lewis, simplifying the simple truth. "The focus is on everyone. In order to win games you have to make plays in all areas. We have to do a better job. We've had opportunities and haven't played as well in those (playoff) games. I didn't think that would be an issue for us." The Bengal reeled off seven wins in their final eight games, including beating the then-defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium in November and division rival Pittsburgh at Heinz Field in Week 16 to clinch their playoff berth. The 19-13 postseason loss at Houston, however, leaves a franchise searching for answers. The offense scored just one touchdown over the final three games, including the playoffs. All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Green wasn't targeted once in the first half against the Texans. A defense that had proved to be one of the stingiest in the league gave up 420 yards to Houston, including 140 yards and a touchdown on the ground to Arian Foster. Shoring up the roster before draft day and the 21st pick in the first round arrives is a top priority. The Bengals have an estimated 54 million of room under the salary cap that is expected to exceed 122 million. Lewis left no doubt that the Bengals plan on using that available space to retain their own players. "That's the way you want to do it. We want to keep developing our guys in my way, our way," said Lewis. "Let's bet on our guys and move forward. Sometimes it doesn't work out the way you'd think. Unfortunately in this game guys get hurt but you can't let that pull you back. You've got to keep working. We've got to bet on them." At the top of the list of potential free agents are starting right tackle Andre Smith and defensive end Michael Johnson. Smith, the team's No. 1 pick in 2009, and Johnson, a third-round pick that same year, have blossomed the last two seasons into core players. Smith has started 32 of the last 34 games, including the playoffs, after appearing in just 13 games his first two seasons. Johnson had a career-high 11.5 sacks last season but has become an every-down player. Either player could end with the team's franchise tag if a long-term deal can't be worked out before free agency begins on March 12. Teams have until March 4 to use their franchise or transition tag on a player. "We hope that we don't have to use the tag. But if we have to use the tag, we'll tag somebody," said Lewis. "We're going to retain our guys in every way possible." The Bengals also have no punter (Kevin Huber) or kickers (Josh Brown and Mike Nugent) at this moment. Three key members of the secondary from last season corners Adam Jones and Terence Newman plus safety Chris Crocker as well as linebackers Thomas Howard, Rey Maualuga and Manny Lawson are eligible for unrestricted free agency. Not everyone will be back. Second-year player Vontaze Burfict could easily move into the middle to replace Maualuga, regardless if Maualuga is re-signed. Burfict, who a year ago at this time was in the process of underwhelming scouts with his Combine performance, is coming off a season in which he led the team in tackles after taking over the Will linebacker spot for the injured Howard. Welcome to speculative football season.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
RELATED ARTICLES

Marvin Lewis: Chudzinski inheriting a better football team

Offseason division gesturing is a common thing in the NFL world, especially in the vaunted AFC North that has won several championships and placed at least two playoff teams for most of the last decade. Because of that, it was a bit of a surprise to see Marvin Lewis’ comments about the Browns and Rob Chudzinski yesterday. These comments made their way via Lewis’ most recent press...

Report: Rey Maualuga likely done in Cincinnati

According to Adam Caplan of TheSidelineView.com, the Cincinnati Bengals will likely pass on re-signing linebacker Rey Maualuga. Maualuga played in a career-high 1025 snaps during the 2012 season, but struggled with game-to-game consistency. The former second-round pick out of the 2009 NFL Draft started all 16 regular season games for the first time in his career. With Maualuga likely...

Fantasy Football Player Profile – Andy Dalton, QB

Andy Dalton, QB, Cincinnati Bengals Player Profile Height/Weight: 6-2/220 Birthdate: 10/29/1987 School: Texas Christian FANTASY FOOTBALL ANALYSIS While not flashy, Andy Dalton will not hurt you either. He enjoyed a solid sophomore year in which he passed for 3,669 yards on 528 attempts and 27 touchdowns. He quietly ran in another 4 pushing his touchdown total past 30 (31) although...

Kyle Larson Crash In NASCAR Nationwide Race At Daytona Leaves 10 Fans Injured

YouTube.com A huge crash at the end of the NASCAR Nationwide race on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway sent car parts through and over the track fence in front of the grandstand. According to a post on the Volusia County Professional Firefighters Association Facebook page, at least 10 fans needed medical treatment as a result of the crash. The post indicated two patients...

Kyle Larson DRIVE4COPD 300 Race Preview

Practice Makes Perfect… Spending nearly two weeks in Daytona and competing in 5 races prior to his NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) debut, Larson has spent plenty of time at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Claiming an impressive second-place finish in the ARCA Racing Series Lucas Oil 200 last Saturday, the young driver gained some drafting experience in his first restrictor-plate race...

Kyle Larson’s car engine flies into stands following viscous crash at Daytona International Speedway

Nationwide race car driver Karl Lawson was the victim of a viscous crash on Saturday during the Nationwide Series at Daytona International Speedway.

Nationwide Series Daytona 2013 Finish

This is a a photo of Kyle Larson’s Nationwide Series Engine that was caught in the catch fence at the start finish line of Daytona International Speedway.  A huge multi-car wreck happened coming to the finish of the Nationwide Series Race.   This was a scary situation for drivers and fans.  It looked like all the drivers walked away.   No word on any injuries in the grandstands...

Kyle Larson’s car torn apart during wreck at Daytona (Video)

Kyle Larson’s car was torn apart and several fans were injured because of a wreck that occurred at the end of the Drive4COPD 300 at Daytona Saturday. The wreck was caused when Brad Keselowski bumped leader Regan Smith, whose car turned into the wall as they were going down the final stretch. Several cars got caught behind Smith, including Larson’s No. 32 car, which got spun...

Horrific crash at Daytona sends multiple spectators to the hospital

It was a horrific scene at Daytona Saturday afternoon as Kyle Larson’s car flew into the catch fence sending debris including tires and a hot engine into the main grandstand. Larson himself was uninjured however a total of 28 spectators were injured including two who are in critical condition, one of which is a child. [...]

Draft Strategy: Linebackers

The linebacker group is another position that could be in for a complete overhaul this offseason. All of the veteran players are currently free agents. How many are worth bringing back? Could the Bengals turn them all loose and start over? The hidden gem of the entire 2012 draft was clearly Vontaze Burfict. He took the “typical Bengals move” punchlines made in the wake of his...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.