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The Cincinnati Bengals returned to their roots last week by signing wide receiver Matt Jones(notes) and working out cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones. The Jones boys, a pair of 2005 first-round NFL draft busts, are well-documented examples of recalcitrant youth rather than of NFL success.
That's why the Bengals, who make a habit of giving second chances to troubled players, were kicking the tires off of them. The Bengals, who are desperately looking for a wide receiver to replace the late Chris Henry, signed Matt Jones and passed on Adam Jones(notes).
Sadly, the word from two team sources is that neither of the Joneses figures to make it back to the NFL in the regular season based on their condition. Matt Jones, a 6-foot-6, 218-pounder who once ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the NFL scouting combine, didn't exactly impress the football people with the Bengals despite getting signed.
"It was one of the worst workouts I have ever seen," one of the sources said. "I don't care how fast his 40 time is or was, he's a slow-twitch athlete."
What that means is that Jones, who is a repeat offender in the NFL's substance abuse program and did not play in 2009, doesn't move very quickly over short areas, such as the 10- and 20-yard areas where most pass routes are run. That's a major reason why Jones had only one season with more than 41 receptions in his four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars after being the No. 21 overall pick.
"He obviously has great size, but not even that is much of an advantage when you don't move very fast," the other source said. "He's not really the solution to what we need."
One of his former coaches with the Jaguars said the onus is completely on Jones.
"He has always had the athletic ability," the coach said. "The desire, that's another matter. All I'll say is that it's up to Matt what kind of player he wants to be."
As for Pacman Jones, the word was even worse.
"He worked out, but he wasn't really ready to work out, if you know what I'm saying," said the first of the two Cincinnati sources. "If he really wants to get back in the league, I don't know what he's been doing to get ready for it."
Beyond the workout, Pacman didn't endear himself to management very much when he gave a bunch of excuses about his litany of arrests and run-ins with the law over his career.
"There wasn't a lot of consistency with his explanations," the source said.
Then again, a weak market could help: While neither one of the Joneses may be of much help to any team this year, don't think that they won't have more than a few suitors. With the market for free agents expected to be really thin this year because so many players will be restricted free agents under the collective bargaining agreement, teams will be desperate to find players who could help right away.
"There might be three free agents who have some impact on what happens next season," said one coach, who didn't want to be identified because of the prohibition on talking about the collective bargaining agreement. "It's going to be rough. If you had a bad team last year, there's not a lot of ways to fix other than being lucky."
While free agency has often been perceived as a panacea by people in management, coaches love it because it means that they can plug in a trained player at a spot or two and then focus on rookies at just one or two spots.
"You might not get the greatest free agent, but you got somebody who knew what he was doing, somebody with experience. If I'm worried about left guard, I can get somebody right away and then fill right guard with a rookie if I have to. This is going to be brutal for some teams," the coach said.
Your views on Manning vs. Roethlisberger
Suffice to say, last week's column comparing Peyton Manning(notes) to Ben Roethlisberger(notes) in the playoffs received plenty of reaction. Approximately two-thirds of readers thought I was some type of substandard human being for even broaching the possibility that Roethlisberger has been a better playoff quarterback in his six years compared to Manning's 12. As a correction, Manning's playoff quarterback rating is 87.1, not 95.5 as I initially wrote last week. Roethlisberger's rating is 90.0. Fortunately, some of you saw the larger point I was trying to make.
For those who didn't get it, I think Manning is a better quarterback and I would draft him higher than Roethlisberger. However, there is no denying that Roethlisberger has been better in the playoffs over their comparative careers. With that in mind, here's a sample of what readers had to say:
Are you kidding me? Did you have to dream this one up? Redcheeseburger versus Manning? What a hollow article. My question is this: Couldn't you find something sensible to write about? Also, do they really pay you to write this tripe?
I now feel dumber after reading this article. I can't believe you would place Roethlisberger and Manning in the same category. It's just typical BS that people like you have nothing else better to do than to pick on Manning again, simply because he is the best QB in the NFL and people like you are trying to sell papers. No one in the NFL has the responsibilities that Manning has, not even [Tom] Brady or [Drew] Brees – defiantly not Roethlisberger. I can't believe that I have wasted my time reading and reply back to this stupid article.
Somewhere Out There
(Note: Jake, if you haven't noticed, I'm not in the business of selling newspapers anymore. Also, I think you meant definitely, not defiantly.)
You're an idiot saying Roethlisberger is better than Manning. Do you even watch football? I want your job. What was Roethlisberger's first Super Bowl passer rating? Oh yeah, it was 22.6. Even in his second Super Bowl appearance his rating and performance was much better, but did he have a 100-yard interception return for a TD right before the half? Nope he didn't do that. His defense did. And the so-called "legendary comeback" he pulled in the 4th quarter was against a bottom 10 defense that was completely exhausted. The difference is, that guys like Manning and Brees do 70 to 80 percent of the work, then defense and the running game do the remainder while Roethlisberger does 20 to 40 percent of the work and the defense/running game do the rest. The two seasons that Pittsburgh didn't have a defense or running game and had to rely on Ben Roethlisberger, what was their record? 8-8 in '07 and 9-7 in '09. I rest my case. … They rely on running the ball and defense. Roethlisberger is "good" but not great and he has a hell of a lot more help and room to make up for where he lacks because of his defense and running attack.
(Note: Actually, the 2008 Steelers posted the worst running game of any team to ever win a Super Bowl. You might want to check that before resting your case.)
You shouldn't be allowed to write articles on football. You are obviously somewhat retarded to even compare quarterback performance between Peyton and Ben. Wins come from complete team play … ability shows in the stats … and Ben doesn't beat Peyton in any category except lost fumbles … you should work at Wal-Mart.
As a long time Steelers fan I appreciate your commentary on Big Ben versus Peyton and it takes a lot of guts to put that comparison in writing. Obviously I'm biased and agree with you, but you left out one important detail. And that is the head-to-head playoff game between the two, in Indy, on the Steelers' trip to the Super Bowl. [Jerome] Bettis coughed up the ball near trying to score, an Indy player scooped it up and was headed for a TD but Ben chased him down and made a shoestring tackle that likely preserved a win. Otherwise, I agree with your comparison and it IS a fair one.
East Hampton, Conn.
Manning and Roethlisberger after the Steelers' 21-18 win in the '05 playoffs.
(Darron Cummings/AP Photo)
First I am a Steelers fan and I am also a Tennessee Volunteers fan. One thing not mentioned in your piece is that both QBs are perfect for their teams and the offenses they run. Big Ben is the only QB I want running the Steelers offense. As a fan I would never want to see him traded for Manning or Brady. Both would crumble under the pressure of the Steelers current O-line. Not to mention the running game the Steelers employ. Manning would still win many games based on his preparation and skill, but he wouldn't last a full season in Pittsburgh. Brady would be even worse. In the great debate of who's the greatest QB ever, give Manning the nod, but not in Pittsburgh.
It is about time Big Ben is included in the conversation about great quarterbacks of the league. I have often argued that the true measure of a quarterback is not in the stats he puts up but instead the number of Lombardis he can hold up. Roethlisberger can hoist one in each hand. With that said, Ben is ahead of Peyton, [Donovan] McNabb, Brees, [Eli] Manning, [Trent] Dilfer, [Tony] Romo, [Brad] Johnson, [Steve] Young and the list goes on. … Stats mean nothing if you cannot win the big game. Ask the 18-1 Patriots. Ben Roethlisberger does not get the accolades he has earned. His passing is only surpassed by his toughness. He is a beast in the pocket. As you stated, defenses can't stop him they can only hope to contain him. Oh, and one last point to ponder: He has accomplished all this in his first six years as a starter.
Thank you for finally stating the fact that Big Ben is a superior quarterback to Peyton. The Steelers defense never did as much to win big playoff games as Edgerrin James(notes), Marvin Harrison(notes), and Reggie Wayne(notes) did. In fact, James and Addai are so superior to the Pittsburgh backs over the years as to be laughable. The fact that Big Ben carried his team through so many tough postseason contests and Peyton didn't is really all you need to know. When it comes time for Canton, Ben can give Peyton a tour and show him the bust of what a truly great player looks like.
This and that
• While some owners have been privately critical of NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith because there hasn't been a counterproposal from the union, the reality is that owners don't want a new deal before the 2010 season. The only offer that the league has put before the union requires that players take an 18-percent cut in pay. That number is so high and unfathomable to the union that it's impossible to counter. How exactly is Smith supposed to counter a proposal where giving up anything right now would likely cost him his job?
• People close to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow are realizing that it might not be a very good idea for Tebow to go in the first round of the draft, if any team was even willing to do that. While the guaranteed money would be better, the pressure to have Tebow play right away would likely undermine him. One associate even tried to paint a scenario in which Tebow could get drafted by a team in the first round, but that team could have a veteran quarterback who would allow Tebow to sit for a couple of years. Sorry! Unless you're the Green Bay Packers and you have Brett Favre(notes) standing in front of Aaron Rodgers(notes), that's not happening.
• After news broke that the Oakland Raiders were expected to give kicker Sebastian Janikowski(notes) a four-year contract worth $16 million, including $9 million guaranteed, one NFL GM scoffed via text message: "$7 mill a yr for a K/P? Nice work, Al." Last year, the Raiders gave punter Shane Lechler(notes) a four-year, $12 million deal. They now have the highest paid kicking tandem in the league.