Duduit: Bengals should listen to fans

By Del Duduit - Contributing Columnist



I hope the Bengals brass got the message loud and clear from their fans – you know those people who spend a ton of money to pay for tickets, food, merchandise, and parking?

Last year on December 21, Cincinnati knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers in The Jungle 27-17. But a powerful signal was sent to management that was spread out over about 22 seats.

At one point toward the end of the third quarter, the Steelers whipped off 140-plus yards compared to Cincy’s eight.

A television camera showed a huge banner made by fans with a distinct message. It read; “Penei for ur thoughts.”

Penei Sewell (6-6, 325) is the highly sought-after offensive tackle from Oregon who should be the Bengal’s first pick in the NFL Draft later this month. Cincinnati will have the fifth overall selection.

The management in Cincinnati needs to listen to the fans who are sick and tired of dismal performance.

Last year, the team scored 311 points and was ranked 29th out of the 32 teams. Defensively, they surrendered 424 points and was ranked 22nd in the league. When the season was over, the team was 4-11-1.

Quarterback Joe Burrow – the 2020 first overall pick in the draft — had his knee mangled in week 11 and underwent reconstructive surgery to repair his leg.

He clearly needs more protection.

Head coach Zac Taylor told local media this week that he has his mind made up that Johan Williams will play left tackle this season, and that Riley Reiff will be on the other side.

Where will that leave Sewell?

There are four possible answers; 1- right guard; 2- left guard; 3 – on the bench as a backup; 4 – playing for another team.

There is a lot of hype and speculation that Burrow wants to make former LSU wide receiver and teammate Ja’Marr Chase the team’s top pick, instead of Sewell.

Taylor has not wowed the crowd with his leadership over the past two seasons. His overall record is 6-25-1 which is a .203-win percentage.

The last thing he needs to see is his Heisman Trophy-winning QB being carted off the field again.

To me, it makes sense to draft Sewell and put him in the position he knows best – at tackle. Immediately.

Sewell told local media that he would welcome the opportunity to show off his talents.

“I would love to put everything I have on my plate to come out each and every day to prove that I’m worthy to be in this league and be a tackle in this league,” said Sewell. “Whatever I have to do, whatever that looks like, I will do, and I will accomplish it.”

Williams, at 6-4, 305 pounds played in 10 games last year and is a good offensive tackle. Reiff (6-5, 313) played in Minnesota last season and has had some foot injuries. Both are dependable book ends, and I think the Bengals might be satisfied with the “business as usual” attitude.

Perhaps the thought process is to either let Sewell play at guard or have him watch and gain experience on the sidelines as a backup.

Protecting Burrow is the team’s highest priority. Reiff was able to protect Lions QB Matthew Stafford when he was in Detroit from 2012-2016. And, according to a report in Cincyjungle.com, the coaches feel that guards Quinton Spain and Xavier Su’a can get the job done.

They might feel that Reiff and Williams can bring Sewell along and help him develop into a franchise player. I understand that thought process but disagree with them.

Cincinnati does not need another flashy wide receiver right now. Most of the receivers who are either in the league now or available in the draft can catch a football. But Burrow has to be able to get the ball to them to catch it first. That’s why the team should take Sewell instead of Chase.

When Sewell was asked if he saw the message from Bengals fans to ownership last season, he said he got a phone call to turn on the TV. He obviously was not watching the game.

“I was playing video games with my brothers, and my agent hit me, saying ‘There’s a big sign on the game, you should turn it on.’ I turned it on and I saw it.”

He said the display made him chuckle.

But when Burrow went down against Washington, fans were not giggling. They saw the potential that their leader might not make it back to the league in one piece.

But the quarterback is on target to make a comeback; however, he needs assurance from top brass that he will be protected at all costs. The team needs another quality offensive tackle. The Bengals should listen to the fans and make Sewell their first pick in the draft.

And that is no laughing matter.



By Del Duduit

Contributing Columnist