The AFC coaches met with the media today at the NFL owners meetings. Here are the top five issues addressed by Bengals coach Marvin Lewis (via the team's official website) and my reaction:
On being known as a place that gives second chances to first-round picks that underachieved: "They are guys that have superior athletic talent, we feel like. Mike [Zimmer] coached Jamaal Anderson in Atlanta. So he’s familiar with Jamaal. You go back. Like with Reggie [Nelson]. We felt very highly about Reggie. We felt when Reggie came out he could do so many things. We’ve been able to put Reggie into what we do and allow him to do the things we felt we were comfortable with when we evaluated him throughout the draft process." Hensley's reaction: What I like about the Bengals' moves is they're not reaching when signing these former first-rounders. They're not asking Anderson, Derrick Harvey or Jason Allen to become starters. If these moves pay off, it improves Cincinnati's depth.
On the status on possibly signing Terence Newman: "We would still love to add Terence to our team. He said the best years of his career are with Mike Zimmer and hopefully we can get something done very soon. We would love to have him on our team." Hensley's reaction: Newman would become the third cornerback signed by the Bengals in free agency, joining Allen and Adam Jones. The Bengals are either not planning to draft a corner or they're worried that Leon Hall won't be ready to start the season coming off an Achilles injury.
On finding a No. 2 wide receiver: "We feel better about it in house than people know. We have the draft. There’s still some other ways we are looking at. Still a lot of things in play. We feel a little bit better about it in house than what people know." Hensley's reaction: I was surprised that the Bengals didn't get more involved in the free-agent market for wide receivers. This group, led by second-year talent A.J. Green, could've used an experienced voice. Now, they are looking for a No. 2 receiver out of a current group that includes Jordan Shipley, Brandon Tate, Andrew Hawkins, Ryan Whalen and Armon Binns.
On Lewis' contract status (he's entering the final year of a previous two-year extension): "We haven’t discussed it. I haven’t taken the opportunity to sit down [and talk]. The ball is in my court. It hasn’t been my focus." Hensley's reaction: Lewis deserves a contract extension from the Bengals after what he did last season. He guided the Bengals to a 9-7 record and a trip to the playoffs after beginning the season as the worst-ranked team in many power rankings, including the one at ESPN.com.
On his thoughts of his players after making the playoffs last season: "Unaccomplishment. Unfinished business. The fact that the four guys went to the Pro Bowl tells me where we are. They are young. You could put them in those four chairs and they’re not going to say a word. That’s just the way they are." Hensley's reaction: The Bengals have always had trouble handling success. Perhaps this is the year when they put together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1981-82.
NOTE: This blog incorrectly had the wrong years for the last time the Bengals had back-to-back winning seasons. The AFC North blog regrets the error.