Cincinnati Bengals: Lessons from AJ McCarron debacle

Published: Friday, February 16, 2018 @ 11:45 AM

Could backup QB AJ McCarron see some playing time before this season is over? Marvin Lewis answered this week.

The main takeaway from Cincinnati backup quarterback AJ McCarron being declared an unrestricted free agent, as with most of the events of the last two years, is not to trust the Bengals’ judgment anymore. 

The organization had a nice run there for a while starting with the surprising first return of Marvin Lewis as coach after the 2010 season, but not much has gone right since Jeremy Hill fumbled and the defense bumbled away (via Adam Jones and Vontaze Burfict) that wild card game against the Steelers in January 2016. 

READ MORE on McCarron news

Hill’s fumble was of course not the fault of the front office nor Lewis, though blame can be assigned to both for having the knuckleheads who did knucklehead things (Jones and Burfict) on the team. 

Since then they have had a bunch of crucial roster decisions to make and blown most of them, too often letting established players walk as free agents only to replace them with youngsters who turned out to be downgrades at multiple positions. 

RELATED: 2 Bengals greats support Lewis’ return

Their recent drafts have left a lot to be desired, too, which is surprising since their string of five playoff appearances in a row was obviously largely the product of drafting well. 

And now we learn they screwed up in how they designated McCarron’s roster status during his rookie year, a mistake that has some ripple effects still to be felt. 

(For instance, they probably would have tried harder to trade him last year, maybe even picking one of the league’s competent teams to do business with rather than be at the mercy of the Browns with the trade deadline approaching.) 

Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron spoke Wednesday about nearly being traded to the Browns

I don’t think McCarron is a star in the making, but he’s still an asset who had value that won’t be fully realized by the Bengals because of the way they managed him. 

His almost-certain exit further cements Andy Dalton as the starting quarterback for the Bengals, but that was probably already done when Lewis was retained as coach again in January. 

RELATED: Who were the best Bengals this season?

In seven years, Lewis has shown no interest in trying anyone but Dalton, who has followed his best season with two inconsistent ones and shown nearly no leadership along the way as the team has been tossed about in choppy waters. 

With that being the case, merely losing McCarron is no big deal. 

If McCarron were a clear upgrade over Dalton physically, he would have gotten an opportunity at some point. 

If this franchise is anything, it is enamored with playing the most talented players available. That’s usually a good thing, though it obviously has its pitfalls when it means compromising character too many times along the way (again see that playoff meltdown). 

We’ll now never know if a personality like McCarron’s could have provided a spark while the team floundered under the uninspiring Dalton during key stretches the past two seasons. 

RELATED: Andy Dalton or Nick Foles? Depends on the month

McCarron is likely to get a shot somewhere else, and he deserves that. He was a good soldier during his time in Cincinnati, which no doubt has a lot to do with how amicable this split is. 

But who knows: Maybe this will set off a chain of events that leads the Bengals to get better, too. 

The likely new No. 2, Jeff Driskel, could be more talented than both Dalton and McCarron, though arrived with much less polish. Maybe he can take the team farther than either of them if he ever gets a chance (like say if Dalton gets hurt again).

That’s admittedly a big stretch, but nobody wants to be Debbie Downer all the time, right?

There’s also the possibility the Bengals now have to draft a quarterback. It’s extremely unlikely they take one in the early rounds — as TheMMQB’s Andy Benoit has suggested — but maybe they’ll luck into another diamond in the rough on day two or three. 

The way things have gone for them lately, though, I wouldn’t bet on it. 

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Bruns’ late heroics leads Marion Local in D-IV state semifinal win

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 5:14 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 5:16 PM

Marion Local’s Nathan Bruns snaps a rebound on a final miss by Pandor-Gilboa. Marion Local defeated Pandora-Gilboa 56-54 in a D-IV boys high school basketball state semifinal at OSU’s Schottenstein Center on Thursday, March 22, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Marion Local’s Nathan Bruns snaps a rebound on a final miss by Pandor-Gilboa. Marion Local defeated Pandora-Gilboa 56-54 in a D-IV boys high school basketball state semifinal at OSU’s Schottenstein Center on Thursday, March 22, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF(MARC PENDLETON / STAFF)

Nathan Bruns scored Marion Local’s final five points as the Flyers edged newcomer Pandora-Gilboa 56-54 in a Division IV boys high school basketball state semifinal on Thursday.

The win sends Marion Local (24-4) into Saturday’s D-IV state championship at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center against Willoughby Cornerstone Christian (21-7) at 10:45 a.m. Cornerstone advanced with a 51-41 defeat of Berlin Hiland in Thursday’s opening D-IV semi at the Schott.

»RELATED: Springfield standouts on All-Ohio teams

»RELATED: Wayne, Trotwood players picked for All-Ohio

That sets up a rare shot at a state championship double-double for the Flyers. The Midwest Athletic Conference power also won a D-VI state football championship last December.

Scoreless in the first half, Bruns scored 15 points in the second half to lead the Flyers to their 12th straight win. None were more crucial than his last five.

»RELATED: Rams’ opposing coach, ‘They’re crazy athletic’

»RELATED: Ahrens, Barhorst earn top D-IV boys honors

Tyler Mescher’s 17 points led Marion Local in scoring. Trailing by two, he missed two free throws with 2:11 left. However, Bruns snared the rebound, hit a field goal and converted a free throw for a 3-point play that would give the Flyers the lead for good, but not without some anxious moments.

Following a steal, Gilboa was in great position for a final shot, but missed. Bruns rebounded the miss and converted two free throws.

»RELATED: Trotwood-Madison back to final four

»RELATED: Boys state final four pairings

Ahead by three, the Flyers deliberately sent Jared Breece to the line with 5.2 seconds left. He converted the first to account for the final score. On the second he bashed off the rim, but the play was ruled dead. Marion Local successfully inbounded the ball and the celebration was on.

Drew Johnson had a game-high 24 points to lead Pandora-Gilboa (26-2), including 19 in the first half. Breece added 16 points.

»RELATED: Moeller bumps Wayne off tourney trail

»RELATED: Springfield coach, “we’ll be back”

Marion Local will be shooting for its third boys state basketball title, joining the 2003 and 1975 Flyers’ teams. It also is Marion Local’s fifth state final four. It was the first final four for Pandora-Gilboa, out of the Blanchard Valley Conference and Putnam County League.

Cornerstone Christian 51, Berlin Hiland 41: Michael Bothwell, the D-IV state player of the year, scored 22 points in leading the Willoughby power. This is the second final four for the Patriots, who won a D-IV

state title in 2016. Hiland finished 23-6.

»RELATED: Boys regional results

»RELATED: Girls state final four results

• Upper Arlington senior Dane Goodwin was named Ohio’s Mr. Basketball by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association on Wednesday. The son of former University of Dayton hall of famer and Capital men’s coach Damon Goodwin, Dane averaged 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Golden Bears.

A four-year starter, he initially verbally committed to OSU but signed with Notre Dame after Thad Matta resigned with the Buckeyes.


Thursday’s D-IV semifinal results

Willoughby Cornerstone Christian 51, Berlin Hiland 41

Marion Local 56, Pandora-Gilboa 54

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Atlantic 10 loses another high-profile coach

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 12:12 PM

Rhode Island's Dan Hurley on being picked first in A-10

For the fourth time since 2015, the Atlantic 10 has lost one of its most successful coaches.

Connecticut announced the hiring of Dan Hurley on Thursday. He spent six seasons at Rhode Island, compiling a record of 113-82 and leading the program to the A-10 tournament crown in 2017 and the regular-season title in 2018. The Rams reached the NCAA tournament his last two seasons after missing the big dance in his first four seasons.

» RELATED: A look at Dayton’s 2018-19 roster

This wasn’t unexpected news. Dayton students teased Hurley about leaving for UConn when Rhode Island visited UD Arena in January. The Rams lose four senior starters from a team that finished 26-8.

Here’s a glance at the other recent high-profile coaching losses by the conference:

2015: Shaka Smart left Virginia Commonwealth for Texas after leading the Rams to the A-10 tournament title in his final season. He spent six seasons at VCU and finished with a 163-56 record, making the NCAA tournament his last five seasons.

» LOOKING BACK: Celebrating fourth anniversary of Dayton’s win over Ohio State

2017: Dayton’s Archie Miller took the head coaching job at Indiana after six seasons with the Flyers. Dayton shared the A-10 regular-season title in 2016 and won it outright in 2017. He was 139-63 in six seasons at UD and led the Flyers to the NCAA tournament in his last four seasons. Dayton finished 14-17 in the first season for Anthony Grant.

2017: Will Wade replaced Smart and took VCU to the tournament in his only two seasons. He left for LSU after the 2017 season. His final record at VCU was 51-20. VCU finished 18-15 in the first season for Mike Rhoades.

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Dayton recruit finishes high school career among top 40 scorers in Ohio history

Published: Tuesday, March 13, 2018 @ 12:48 PM

Dayton Flyers recruit Dwayne Cohill

Dayton Flyers recruit Dwayne Cohill finished his high school career with 2,182 points. That ranks 31st in Ohio history, according to the Ohio High School Basketball Association record book.

Cohill’s senior season ended when Holy Name High School lost 74-66 to Bay in overtime a Division II district final Saturday. He had 28 points in his final game.

» RELATED: Cohill looking forward to playing for Flyers

In 24 games, Cohill averaged 22.6 points per game. He shot 62.6 percent (161 of 257) from 2-point range, 42.0 percent (34 of 81) from 3-point range and 78.5 percent (117 of 149) from the free-throw line.

Cohill averaged 2.9 assists and 2.2 turnovers per game, plus 3.3 steals and 5.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shot.

Cohill will be one of at least two new recruits to join Dayton’s roster. Junior college recruit Jhery Matos is the other. Dayton has one scholarship open because of Xeyrius William’s decision to transfer.

Interview: Dayton Flyers recruit Dwayne Cohill

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National sports site highlights UD St. Patrick’s Day crowds; police presence

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2018 @ 4:31 PM

Police in riot gear dispersed a large crowd that gathered on Lowes Street in Dayton during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations Saturday March 17, 2018. Steve Maguire/Staff
Staff Writer
Police in riot gear dispersed a large crowd that gathered on Lowes Street in Dayton during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations Saturday March 17, 2018. Steve Maguire/Staff(Staff Writer)

While crowds throwing rocks and clogging the streets during St. Patrick’s Day didn’t amuse the administration at the University of Dayton (the school reacted by moving Spring Break to the same week as St. Patrick’s Day in 2019), Barstool Sports found the events amusing enough to put a story on its site.

Headlined “Riot Police, A Running Of The Gingers And Girl Scout Cookies: University Of Dayton Absolutely Dominated St. Patrick's Day Weekend,” the story made light of the disturbances on March 22 that led to police in riot gear to respond.

Writer “Intern Jack Mac” congratulated Flyer students and their rowdy behavior: “Big weekend for a lot of schools. Nevada, Kansas State, Florida State, Texas A&M, etc. all dominated America’s March Madness attention. There was one school that didn’t participate on the court but does deserve a huge round of applause for their performance off of it: University of Dayton.”

The story included a number of embedded tweets: 

One interesting note from Mr. Mac, he discovered an Instagram video of a Girl Scout selling cookies among the throngs of UD students in the streets. 

Barstool Sports has stirred controversy over comments its writers and podcast hosts often make of female television sports reporters. ESPN had slotted Barstool with a one hour interview show until Sam Ponder, the NFL Countdown host, blasted the site and ESPN for allowing Barstool on the channel. Ponder was a frequent target of inflammatory language and anger on the site. 

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