It’s easy to argue that no NFL team, not even the much-maligned Jets, has gotten off to a worse start than the Bengals. Not only have they lost their first two games, but both came in Cincinnati, where the team became the league’s first since the 1939 Eagles to begin a season by failing to score a touchdown in two straight home games.
That wretched performance has already cost the job of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, who was replaced Friday, following a 13-9 loss to the Texans, with quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor. While few questioned that move, it might warrant the raise of an eyebrow simply based on the fact Lazor’s most important pupil has also taken much of the blame for the offensive malaise.
Starting quarterback Andy Dalton missed a number of throws Thursday, including some to wide-open receivers, and he has completed just 54.5 percent of his passes for 394 yards, four interceptions and a horrific 47.2 rating. Not surprisingly, Pro Football Talk reported Sunday that “the feeling within the [Bengals’] locker room” is that “if the struggles continue” under Lazor, “the next one to go could be Dalton.”
The next man up at quarterback, as PFT noted, would be A.J. McCarron. However, the website also had this tidbit to report: “There’s a feeling among some of the players that the Bengals should go off the board and consider bringing in Colin Kaepernick.”
That’s a long way from Cincinnati actually doing so, of course, but the team has already shown a willingness to make a major, early-season shake-up. In addition, the Bengals have long been willing to take a chance on players shunned by other organizations, such as Adam “Pacman” Jones, Vontaze Burfict and, more recently, Joe Mixon.
Kaepernick, of course, is unlike those players because he does not have incidents of domestic violence, or other legal issues, on his record. However, he did incur the ire of many NFL fans last season, when as a member of the 49ers he refused to stand for the national anthem, choosing to kneel as a protest against racial injustice.
Interestingly, Bengals owner Mike Brown has said in the past that he wanted his team to select Kaepernick with the 35th pick in the 2011 draft. Instead, then-offensive coordinator Jay Gruden won out with his preference for Dalton, leaving Kaepernick to fall to San Francisco with the next pick.
Now Brown has a chance not only to get his man, albeit belatedly, but to jolt a team and a fan base that is seeing a season quickly slip away. According to Kaepernick himself, he’s “ready right now” to join an NFL team, and he said Sunday that he’s been “working out daily.”
If the Bengals did sign Kaepernick, among those applauding the move, at least in spirit, could be Tom Brady. The Patriots quarterback, known to have a long-standing friendship with President Trump, said recently of the noted free agent, “I hope he gets a shot.”
“I’ve always watched him and admired him, the way that he’s played,” Brady said of Kaepernick in a TV interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell (via Yahoo Sports). “He was a great young quarterback, he came to our stadium and beat us, and took his team to the Super Bowl in 2012. He’s accomplished a lot in the pros as a player and he’s certainly qualified.”
For his part, Dalton has played very well at times, too, during his NFL career. Something is not working well at all these days, though, and while bringing in Kaepernick probably would not do much to boost Dalton’s confidence, it sounds like the move would play well in the Bengals’ locker room.