1. WCG: The Bengals beat the Vikings in week one, which was a surprise to a lot of the national media. Was it a surprise to people who follow the team closely? Which Cincinnati units were the key to winning that matchup?
CJ: I wouldn’t say it was that much of a shock for people following the team. We’ve been seemingly shouting into a chorus of doubters about under the radar moves that have improved this team. It is just a matter of Cincinnati being an easy target ever since the offseason we had to endure the constant takes of how Joe Burrow should’ve refused to come here.
The keys to winning though were the defensive line, which absolutely destroyed the Vikings interior offensive line. It seemed like the downs where Kirk Cousins wasn’t getting pressured that the offensive line was at least called for a hold.
Offensively, Burrow always gives the team a chance when he is on the field, but the wide receivers showed how dangerous they can be as a trio with Ja’Marr Chase and his former teammate at LSU not taking long to get on the same page.
Also Joe Mixon and the offensive line deserve some praise. It was the first time in a long time fans didn’t groan every time the ball was handed off, because it would mean either a loss or no gain. Offensive line coach Frank Pollack deserves a ton of credit there. He was the coach in 2018 that had Mixon leading the AFC in rushing before leaving for the Jets.
2. WCG: One of my favorite moments of week one was a series where the Bengals sacked Kirk Cousins twice with a tackle for loss in the middle, pushing the Vikings back to the 1 yard line. Why is it so satisfying to watch Kirk Cousins get sacked?
CJ: Well I could say somethings that would divide a room, but I will refrain for the safety of the comment section. Cousins seemingly turn from this underdog behind Robert Griffin III to this probably stems from the sociological idea that people who follow sports love to be able to be correct about their takes. One of the most obvious ones was Cousins not being worth that deal the Vikings gave him because he clearly needs to be surrounded by a ton of talent, which is similar to a quarterback we are both familiar with.
3. WCG: Everyone and their dog had an opinion about whether the Bengals should draft Ja’Marr Chase or Penei Sewell. It seems like Chase is fitting into the offense quickly, but are you comfortable with where the Bengals O line is without the addition of a high profile tackle? Are the Bengals hopeful about Jackson Carman or D’ante Smith eventually filling Riley Reiff’s spot?
CJ: I was a big fan of Chase after the Bengals brought in Riley Reiff to play right tackle this offseason across from former first round tackle Jonah Williams. I’m confident in Williams as the franchise’s left tackle and going from Bobby Hart (I could commit 1,000 words to how bad he was) to Reiff is a huge shift. It obviously isn’t a long-term solution, and it seems the expectation is that Carman or Smith will take that spot eventually.
I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen from both rookies so far. People are harsh on Carman for not already being a starter. However, he is moving to right guard after just playing left tackle at Clemson. That isn’t an easy shift to make that quickly, and they had veterans in place to be sure Burrow was protected in the meantime.
Cincinnati could stand to add either another interior offensive lineman or tackle in the next draft to really bolster the future of this line, but seems to be headed in the right direction.
4. WCG: How much do you miss Andy Dalton, and how sad will you be to watch him slice up Cincinnati’s defense for 500 yards and 6 touchdowns with former Bengals OC Bill Lazor whispering sweet play calls into his ear?
CJ: You are luckily talking to one of the few Bengals fans who doesn’t have a totally terrible opinion of Dalton. I really think his career looks a lot different if he doesn’t get hurt in 2015. That was the best Bengals’ team during his time there. A.J. Green, Mohammed Sanu, Marvin Jones and a healthy Tyler Eifert was such a good supporting cast with a VERY good offensive line. That team easily handles the Steelers in the Wild Card round and who knows from there.
With all due respect to the man who gave his heart and soul to Cincinnati for nine seasons, he got his feel good story with the Cowboys last season against the Bengals and Zac Taylor. This defense is equipped to get a constant amount of pressure on him, and I don’t think he will be able to keep up with Burrow.
5. WCG: Staley Da Bear is famously the best mascot in the league, but in my opinion, all the big cats are in the running for the number two spot. Sirr Purr recently got some big publicity due to the Robby Anderson “what’s that bear doing?” video. What should people know about “Who Dey” and why do you think he should be considered for the 2nd best mascot title?
CJ: You bring up a good point that Who Dey doesn’t have that viral moment. However, he is such a great mascot that when Chase was drafted he decided to be the first player to wear Who Dey’s jersey (No. 1) every single week. Sirr Purr is known for not being known, but Who Dey gets represented by one of the team’s best young players every week. It is also safe to say Chase made his mascot look good with that 50-yard strike in Week 1. That highlight was seen by millions, and it is just the start for them.
The man seems confident in his kitties and brings up some good points about “Who Dey” and “Sir Purr.” But my opinion on the Bengals mascot is that deep down, in his tiger heart, “Who Dey think[s the Bears are] gonna beat them Bengals.”