Sports Today: What 2018 NFL Draft tells us about how Bengals view themselves

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis discusses new offensive line coach Frank Pollack and other changes to his staff as well as the health of John Ross, last year?€™s No. 1 pick.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

I already wrote that I like this draft for the Cincinnati Bengals, but there is more to it than just adding more good players to the roster.

The fit looks really good.

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They seem to see the same pros and cons to their roster that people who cover the team see, which is encouraging for two reasons.

It means maybe we on the outside have an idea what we're doing, but far more important than that, it helps feed the perception the Bengals have a coherent plan in place for building an entire roster after wandering astray the last couple of years.

Sometimes teams think a little too highly of their assets, and relying too much on their recent draft picks has hurt the Bengals badly over the last two seasons.

I already thought the offense was in good shape as far as playmakers, but obviously the line was a disaster last year that had to be addressed.

Everyone could see that.

The issues on the other side of the ball have been a little more subtle.

The defense wasn’t bad, but it needed an influx of talent, so I’m glad they made that a priority after doing what they could to fix the line, which is hard to totally overhaul in just a few months.

Sam Hubbard, Malik Jefferson and Jessie Bates could really give the defense a different look this fall.

Over the past few years, the Bengals have been not only average (or a little worse) but pretty boring.

With the offseason changes, this team is shaping up to be more explosive on each side of the ball.

Whether or not that leads to more wins remains to be seen, but at least they should be more interesting.

Marvin Lewis said the 2016 Bengals had been a solid team that just didn’t make enough plays.

That didn’t improve once it came time to hit the field in 2017.

Maybe with the newcomers things will be different in 2018…

The Bengals’ neighbors on the riverfront had a nice weekend, too. 

The Cincinnati Reds took two of three games in Minnesota to win a series for the first time in 2018.

Not coincidentally, they mostly have the offense to thank.

The Reds overcame another bad start from Luis Castillo (more on him later) on Friday night by pounding out 20 hits in a 15-9 win.

After being shut down on Saturday, the big bats came back Sunday afternoon in an 8-2 win.

That capped a 4-3 week for the Reds, who were 3-18 after losing last Sunday.

Turns out adding Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler, both hitting over .300 and replacing players hitting under the Mendoza line, made quite a difference.

As for Castillo, manager Jim Riggleman told MLB.com coaches Danny Darwin, Ted Power and Derrin Ebert have a theory for his struggles this season:

"They all agree that his arm angle has changed a little bit,' Riggleman said Saturday. "His hand is maybe not getting on top of the ball like it needs to. What that does, is it causes the ball to flatten out instead of sink. Hitters love that when the ball moves [flat] across the plate instead of having some sink. It's kind of running right into their barrel."

The team is also looking into whether or not he might be tipping his pitches, but at least it’s good to see they have a clue because if afternoon television specials taught me anything when I was growing up, knowing is half the battle…

The Dayton Dragons lost two more games over the weekend before beating Fort Wayne 4-3 on Sunday

That snapped an eight-game losing streak in what has been a roller-coaster season so far.

Hunter Greene took his second loss Saturday.

The Reds’ most-recent No. 1 pick had another ugly stat line (two innings, six hits, four earned runs, two walks and five strikeouts), but he felt a lot better than his previous start when he was tagged for seven runs and got only two outs.

"My fastball movement downhill was great; my action was different," he said. "I stayed over the rubber more, I stayed on my backside more, stayed closed even more than I did in my previous innings pitched, my mechanics were a lot better. I executed my pitches — just some of them fell for hits." 

As a teenager with a world of talent, mechanics and confidence are probably the most important things for Greene to develop and maintain this season.

I don’t get the impression he is easily shaken, but everybody has their down days.

Good to see him keep his head up…

It’s official: LeBron James is still good enough to lead one mediocre team past another in the playoffs. 

Just barely.

The fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers beat the fifth-seeded Indiana Pacers 105-101 on Sunday in Game 7 of their first-round series.

LeBron was magnificent with 45 points on 64-percent shooting. He also had nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals.

The Pacers had their chances in this series, but didn’t have the stomach to finish the job, going 1-4 in close games.

Their biggest star, Victor Oladipo, was almost as inconsistent as most of the Cavs who are not LeBron, and that might have made the difference.

The most bizarre part of Sunday’s game was when James left the game late in the third quarter and Indiana reacted by falling behind by double digits.

Then LeBron came back and it became a close game again.

Weird, huh?

The perception has always been that LeBron makes everyone around him better, but the opposite seems to be more true.

At any rate, next up is a Toronto Raptors team that has been knocking on the door for a few years but no one believes can win the East.

They have more playoff experience than the Pacers, but that includes being crushed by the Cavs the past two years.