Three Things: The Bengals Got Better, But Did They Get Good? Plus What The NFL Told You About AJ, And NBA Hot Takes.

posted by Mo Egger, ESPN1530 -

Every day there are three things, none worth devoting an individual post to, but each worth at least mentioning. 

No more Joe Mixon posts, at least until there's a reason to have another Joe Mixon post. My last word on Joe Mixon before we get to some frivolities is this...

The Bengals drafting of Joe Mixon is less reprehensible to me than the way people have defended what Joe Mixon did to Amelia Molitor. Mixon has a chance to win me over. His apologists - including the nice man who emailed me to tell me that he hopes my daughter comes out of the womb stillborn - do not.

On to things that are far more fun....

1) The Bengals got faster. The Bengals got better. I'm not sure the Bengals got good. That's right, a communications degree and minors in political science and English, and I just typed "got good."

The Bengals are faster.  That was a primary objective in this draft - get speedier and more athletic on both sides - and regardless of how you feel about whether they reached with John Ross, or took a player that's too injury prone, they accomplished that in the first round. Same in round two where Mixon gives the scheme diversity that they've lacked even with a healthy Gio Bernard.  And while I won't pretend to have watched much of Jordan Willis or Carl Lawson, they seem to have added an element of quickness that was badly needed on the edge.

The Bengals got better this weekend.  I'm just not sure how much better.

The shakiest guys on a shaky offensive line from a year ago remain.  Three huge offensive components are coming off of injuries. An upgraded pass rush seems a little too dependent on rookies.  I'm not sure Kevin Minter really helps them overcome deficiencies at linebacker.  And I'm really not sure how much I like the makeup of the secondary.  

They need a guy who was in over his head last season on the offensive line to demonstrate competence, and another to rebound from an injury that forced him to miss a three-quarters of a season. They need two 2016 draft picks who have no experience to play like guys that have NFL snaps under their belt.  Their crop of corners includes a guy with no experience, another who could barely get on the field, and yet another who's entering his mid-30s.

I like this draft, even if I do understand the reservations some have about it. And they did accomplish some things.  I'm not confident that they did enough to go from six wins last season to a double-digit number this year.

2) What the league told you about AJ McCarron. Overshadowed by a very newsy few days for the Bengals was the fact that their backup quarterback remains the same. 

There's good to that, even if you held out hope that AJ would be flipped for more draft picks this year or next.  There's worse things than having a competent, reliable QB understudy, and they will have a nice asset to dangle if another team's quarterback situation turns desperate before or during the season.

The big takeaway from AJ staying put is that the league simply doesn't value him as much as some fans do. The team that holds his rights values him enough to not trade him just to trade him, but not enough to even entertain the idea of AJ McCarron starting a game.

And the rest of the NFL - constantly filled with teams looking for upgrades at the most important position in sports - doesn't value him to such an extent that teams will make the kinds of maneuvers they always make to snag franchise quarterbacks.

You might believe that AJ McCarron is a quarterback you win a Super Bowl with.

No one in the NFL feels that way.

3) NBA hot takes.  People who barely follow the NBA but still offer opinions on it will tell you that the Warriors will easily sweep the Utah Jazz. Those who actually watch games will opine that the series will be pretty compelling. Doc Rivers coached the Clippers' first round loss against Utah like a man who really didn't want his job anymore. I say this without looking up their recent playoff history: It feels like every year, the Spurs lose a lopsided game in a series they end up winning. That said, they played like a team that had acquired whatever malady Doc Rivers had. The Toronto Raptors of this half the decade are the Milwaukee Bucks of the 80s. I want seven games of Isaiah Thomas v. John Wall. Thank you for reading my NBA hot takes.

ICYMI: Draft Analysis from Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus.

ICYMI: The Mo And James NFL Draft Podcast.

Win: A new lawn mower from Baxla Tractor and lawn tickets to every show at Riverbend.

Radio Show: Returns on Thursday with a double-version. 3:00 - 6:00 on ESPN1530, then 6:00 - 9:00 on 700WLW. AJ Green and Keith Law of ESPN will both be among my guests. 

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