I was on vacation for the early part of next week. Then, for the blogging part of my job, I decided to extend the vacation to the rest of the week.
Since they like it when we talk about our vacations, I went to Key West. I ate. I drank. I smoked. I slept. I will live in Key West, even if just temporarily, one day. Those folks live my kind of lifestyle.
I came home and went to sporting events. A couple of Reds games. A Columbus Clippers tilt, which remains my favorite minor league baseball experience. The Western and Southern Open, which remains a fantastic event.
But I've returned, and so has the blog. I'm sure you're grateful.
Here's some stuff...
The Bengals cut George Iloka yesterday, which is a mild surprise, but not a shock. If you paid attention this offseason, this moved seemed like a distinct possibility, which Paul Dehner wrote about yesterday.
Iloka is replaceable. You have to really jog your memory to come up with many plays he made last season, and the Bengals' renewed emphasis on turnovers made Iloka's lack of signature plays a little glaring.
That said, he was a key contributor and graded well on playoff defenses from 2013 through 2015, and I remember his work during that 2014 season with particular fondness. George Iloka was a good Cincinnati Bengal.
I like the fact that they cut him, for the same reasons I liked the fact that the Bengals cut Brandon LaFell. The safe move would've been to keep Iloka. He's reliable. He represents continuity. He carries little risk.
Instead, Jess Bates gets thrust into a prominent, important role. He's the exact opposite of the things Iloka represents, but with more upside, and possibly more athleticism, which this defense badly needs.
As for the preseason game....I wrote something about it for The Athletic, expressing my disappointment in the way the Bengals played. Namely, the offensive line is a concern, and there was an overall lack of sharpness that left me feeling underwhelmed.
Yes, it's just preseason and no, I wasn't so down on the Bengals that I have them winning just three games, or something like that, but taken singularly, Saturday's collective effort was a letdown.
What wasn't is the continuing development of the D-line. The Bengals could have a devastating pass rush this season, and Saturday night's game illustrated why. Jordan Willis was unblockable at times. Sam Hubbard continues to impress. Carl Lawson is on the verge of breaking out. On the interior, Andrew Billings might have been Cincinnati's best player in Dallas.
Oh, and they still have Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins.
I'm bullish on this defense, across a few different areas, but mainly I love how they've transformed their front in a reasonably short amount of time.
And for as disappointing as Saturday was, the D-line providees more than a glimmer of hope.
The Reds swept the Giants. Phil Ervin's walkoff on Friday was the highlight. Ervin is interesting. He's a former first round pick who's not yet panned out, and he's 26 years-old. He looks the part of a guy who can stick with his bat, and he seems athletic enough to handle consistent outfield work.
But there are times in the field when he looks clueless, and I've seen him brainfart on the bases more than once. I believe the Reds view him as a viable potential replacement for Billy Hamilton, if and when they move on from Billy, even if he reminds me of a long-term fourth outfielder.
Either way, he should be getting regular reps over these last six weeks.
Matt Harvey was more than solid on Saturday night. The Reds have 11 days to clear him through waivers and trade him. Teams have somewhere between 35 and 40 regular season games remaining, which means that if you traded for Harvey today, you're getting seven to eight starts.
What are you giving up for seven or eight Matt Harvey starts?
And doesn't it feel like we're inching toward spending a lot of time talking about Matt Harvey being a Red in 2019?
Can I wait six weeks before I opine on whether or not that's a good idea?
FC Cincinnati keeps rolling. They beat Charleston 3-0 on Saturday night at Nippert. The orange and blue haven't lost in league play since Memorial Day weekend.
The soccer season is an interminably long grind....FCC started their season on St. Parick's Day. Labor Day is approaching and they still have 11 regular season games remaining. Alan Koch's team looks fresh, and they've developed enough depth to get through the dog days, while making roster changes that have seemingly invigorated the club.
And it seems to me like they have a club that'll be well-equipped to handle the pressure that will come with living up to regular season expectations when the postseason arrives.
I feel bad for AJ McCarron. That is all.
Here's some other stuff...
I began my vacation by writing this piece on UC football for The Athletic. Aside from hoping that Luke Fickell can retore the buzz back to the Bearcats, my main thing this season is hoping for more competitiveness, a goal that's within this team's grasp. I don't think Cincinnati will many that many games. I do believe they will be in more games. Progress is slow, man.
Speaking of The Athletic, Jay Morrison joins to cover the Bengals. Subscribe. Read Jay. Tolerate me.
Radio Show: Lots of reaction from the Bengals locker room to the George Iloka news, and analysis of the preseason tilt from a number of places. The fun starts at 3:05 on ESPN1530.
(Photo: Getty Images)