The Bengals just proved that they are the class of the AFC North this year by sweeping the Steelers in a hard fought 18-12 win on Sunday. After years of high expectations, bad publicity and an even worse record, Marvin Lewis has finally resurrected the Bengals that once showed flashes of brilliance and made the playoffs a few years back. Which leads me to wonder why in god's name he has agreed to the signing of troubled running back Larry Johnson. For a team known more for off the field trouble than on the field success, this seems like a very stupid signing to me. Marvin Lewis is better off not wasting his time.
4 years ago, the Bengals seemed like a team on the rise. With youngsters Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Rudi Johnson all coming into their own, the offense was looking very fearsome and carried the team into the playoffs for the first time in about 15 years. Carson Palmer suffered a horrible knee injury in that playoff game and the Bengals lost, but it seemed like they had the right formula for consistent success under Coach Marvin Lewis.
Since then, the Bengals have been nothing but trouble. It seemed as if every week in the news we heard about someone on the Bengals getting into trouble with the law. Within one year the Bengals had 8 players who were arrested, some multiple times. These problems really undermined Marvin Lewis' authority as head coach, and made him seem like he had no control. It appears that he has finally regained control of his team this year, so why waste time on a guy like LJ?
Perhaps Marvin Lewis is thinking he can resurrect the career of Larry Johnson much like he did with Cedric Benson. Benson, a one time 5th overall pick, was left for dead by the Bears until the Bengals picked him up and made him a starting running back once again. The problem with this idea is that Larry Johnson is turning 30 in a few days. He can no longer do what he used to be able to in Kansas City. Benson is only 26 and still has plenty of years ahead of him. Larry Johnson seems like an awfully big risk, with only a minimal reward for a team that has already had so many character problems over the years.
My advice to coach Marvin and the entire Bengals organization would be not to mess with a good thing. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. After years of struggling to control their players, the Bengals are successful once again. Don't risk locker room disorder for a guy that would only be "insurance" for your other running backs. Otherwise, Coach Lewis might find himself saying, "You got a bad attitude, AND YOU DON'T LISTEN!!"