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Read and React: It's all about the Bengals

You really have to admire those Cincinnati Bengals.

No, wait, don't leave. We're going somewhere with this.

Leave it to the 2-4 Bengals to be thrust center stage by their fans, who dominate the first-ever edition of Read and React. We heard from scores in the last two weeks. Apparently many of them could care less what erstwhile running back Corey Dillon is up to. Most just want the media (yours truly included) to shut up and stop picking on their team. Don't you people know anything about failed expectations? OK, dumb question.

Moving on, the readers wouldn't let the inaugural mailbag pass without incorporating a few regulars: Terrell Owens, Kerry Collins, O.J. Simpson (yet no mention of Travis Henry or Willis McGahee. Are we even on in Buffalo?).

A quick reminder: If you want to be considered for the weekly mailbag, please be sure to include your first and last name, city and state. All of my responses within the mailbag will be in italics.

To the mail …

DEALIN' DILLON ("Still Bungling" Oct. 23, 2004)

What's up with your piece on Dillon? He's a great running back but Cincinnati is not the only team to trade a great player for draft picks, or to trade a real troublemaker off the team. If you can't afford someone and they don't want to be there, let them go.
Rich Miller
Cincinnati, Ohio

Part of the piece was to spell out the "troublemaker" label that was attached to Dillon in Cincinnati. It simply has not carried over to New England thus far. Look at Terrell Owens in Philadelphia. His M.O. hasn't changed this season. Yet, from the inside of New England's locker room, Dillon's has.

Dillon is no surprise to we long-suffering Bengals fans. He was the bright spot of the team. Now we're in a dark hole again. Some idiot told me we're just in a rebuilding year. Fourteen years of rebuilding!
Pat Sullivan
Dayton, Ohio

So Chuck, how much did Dillon and his agent pay you to kiss his behind? He's a loser, and the Patriots won't get to the Super Bowl with the crybaby doing the ball carrying. Take it to the bank! As for the Bengals, yep, they still suck, and will go through growing pains with a new quarterback, but they have a class coach (unlike that boring stiff Belichick) who will win.
Hoot Gibson
Key West, Fla.

Anyone else think the name "Hoot Gibson" sounds like a 1950s era fullback from the Green Bay Packers?

Cincinnati was glad the day Corey Dillon left town and doesn't care how many yards he gains for New England or for any team. He is a malcontent and he will never be welcome back here. O.J. Simpson was a great runner but I don't think there are many people wanting to have dinner with him.
Larry Boberschmidt
Cincinnati, Ohio

Comparing Dillon to O.J. Simpson is absolutely absurd. The meanest, dirtiest, most dishonest cuss in the NFL wouldn't deserve that comparison.

Why can't the national sports media find something else to put down besides Cincinnati Bengals football? You've had an easy target for over a decade and everyone, especially those of us in Cincinnati, knows the football "stinks." We've smelled it emanating from the riverfront every fall for the past 10-plus years.
Bruce Lanham
Cincinnati, Ohio

I'll say this: Your Bengals showed something Monday night with the win over Denver. They still have something in their bellies this season. Most people in the NFL think Carson Palmer is going to get through the struggles intact. And Marvin Lewis is earning some respect by sticking to his guns and not flip-flopping with Jon Kitna. It's not all doom and gloom.

QUICK READS

The fact that people are talking about Mewelde Moore ("Wind Sprints" Oct. 23, 2004) and comparing players to him has already solidified a promising future. As a Viking fan, I'm much too concerned with the number of injuries, not yards, racked up by Michael Bennett over the past few years. Do you think the Minnesota Vikings are better off with Moore than Bennett?
Pat Benson
Los Angeles, Calif.

Bennett certainly has the speed edge, but Moore is looking like a perfect fit for that offense – especially with his ability to find pockets in the passing game. The Vikings still like Bennett – enough to turn away inquiries about him at the trade deadline. The likely scenario is Minnesota keeping Moore as its starter, but showcasing Bennett enough to enhance his trade value this offseason. But if Onterrio Smith can't clean up his act, he might be the first to get shipped out.

Is it my imagination or is Kerry Collins a Jay Schroeder lookalike? Why on earth is he the starter? He is so clearly out of sync, uncomposed, and miserable-looking that I can almost feel sorry for him. Why not Marques Tuiasosopo who at least has some fire in him?
W. Hover
Oakland, Calif.

Norv Turner loves big quarterbacks with big guns, and Tuiasosopo doesn't fit that profile. He's injury prone, a bit small for Turner's liking, and his game is mobility over arm strength. Turner is going to keep throwing his weight behind Collins as long as a total meltdown doesn't occur. Don't be surprised if the Raiders go looking for another quarterback in the draft or free agency to take Tuiasosopo's place on the depth chart next season.

Out-coached, outplayed and looking like they wanted to be somewhere else, the Broncos still managed to lose more respect for their chop blocks than anything else Monday night. Completely unnecessary, definitely intentional, strongly coached to play that way.
Robert Gray
West Chester, Ohio

I was shocked we didn't get more email about Denver's George Foster cut blocking and breaking the ankle of Cincinnati's Tony Williams on Monday night. It's going to be a point of contention until eternity – unless the NFL makes a rule change that outlaws the tactic. Defensive players despise it. But the bottom line is that cut blocks (blocking below a player's waist) are legal, and technically speaking, what Foster did was legal. He kept his helmet in front of the player when contact was made.

Every team uses the move at some point. But the Broncos get a lot of attention for it because it is such an integral part of their successful running game. Whatever the case, the cut block is often a move that catches defensive players in vulnerable positions. And it often looks like a dirty move on film. Yet it remains part of the game. Until the NFL says otherwise, the debate over its use will continue.

You know, it really burns my backside to read how you so-called experts see the season and players. I'm looking at your power rankings (yeah, what-eva). It's mighty funny that you all blast the hell out of a, let's say, Terrell Owens if he would've attempted to shove Jeff Garcia when he was in San Francisco. But you had the audacity to say it was passion that got into your savior (Peyton Manning) and Reggie Wayne. How in the hell is that passion? You all are so biased that you shouldn't be allowed to cover the game.
Lacarl Walker
Winston-Salem, N.C.

Good point. Owens definitely would have gotten ripped had he reacted the same way Wayne did. But let's be honest – when was the last time you heard Wayne ripping a coach, teammate or opposing player? When Wayne pushes his quarterback, we see it as just another heated confrontation that often goes unseen in NFL games. But had it been Owens shoving Donovan McNabb, we would have thought about all the divisive things he'd done in the past. The point? Assumption might not be fair, but you reap what you sow.