Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cincinnati Bengals 2011 Preview

Are you ready for some football?!! Yes, Cincinnati Bengals fans, owner Mike Brown has put together a NFL team. Well, it's kind of a NFL team. Time to preview this season's Super Bowl champ. Hey, stop laughing.


a. Quarterback. Former Bengals QB Carson Palmer made it clear he would rather retire than collect millions of dollars playing for the woeful Bengals. That forced management to draft TCU's Andy Dalton. (Pictured.)

But what do we know about Dalton? Well, he was a four year starter at TCU. He's smart. He doesn't have Palmer's arm but it's adequate. Good accuracy. He's a winner. At TCU, he led his team to a record of 42-7. He's got moxie. The negatives are that he's nothing special as an athlete. At TCU, he played out of a spread offense, not a pro style offense. Oh,... he's a rookie. When was the last time a rookie led a team to a Super Bowl championship? Never. Anyway, let's hear from Brian Billick on Dalton.

Backing Dalton up is Bruce Gradkowski. He's a journeyman QB. His claim to fame? Beat the Bengals twice. Once as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer (2006) and as a member of the Oakland Raiders. (2009) Nothing to see here.

b. Offensive line. Right tackle is Andre Smith. Guy has great talent but the Bengals ignored the red flags when they took him in the first round. Broke the same foot twice because he was too fat. Remains to be seen if he can play the whole season.

Right guard is Bobbie Williams. Strike that. In true Bengals fashion, Williams was suspended for four games for using a banned substance. That means rookie Clint Bolling will start. Bolling was projected to be drafted in the first to second round in the draft. The Bengals got him in the fourth. He can play all positions on the line. The best value pick the Bengals got this year.

Center is Kyle Cook. He's a two year starter. But he started out as an undrafted college free agent. Okay, former starter Rich Braham was waived by the Phoenix Cardinals before he became a stud for the Bengals. Cook may not be a pro bowler bue he's solid.

Left guard is Nate Livings. Again, another undrafted free agent from Louisiana State University. Nothing special about him.

Left tackle and the guy who guards Dalton's blind side is Andrew Whitworth. He is the most underrated offensive lineman in the NFL If he had played for the New York Jets for the last two years, he would have made the Pro Bowl for those years. Built like a professional wrestler, there's no one he can't block.

c. Wide receivers. Jerome Simpson showed last year that he didn't play because of the two divas in front of him in Chad Ochocinco and Terrel Owens. The man can catch a BB in the dark. The question is whether he can run crisper routes and turn on the afterburners when he needs to.

The slot guys are Jordan Shipley and Andre Caldwell. Shipley is a fine possession receiver. He knows how to get open. Expect him to be Andy Dalton's safety outlet. Caldwell has the speed to burn any linebacker.

On the other side is rookie A.J. Green. He's the real deal as far as being worthy of a team's number one pick. He can catch, block and run accurate routes, and with his speed, he's a deep threat.

d. Tight Ends. Jermain Gresham will provide another outlet for Dalton. He's big, fast and has great hands. After Gresham, is rookie Colin Cochart. Yikes. Better hope there's no more injuries.

e. Running back. Cedric Benson has rushed for over one thousand yards for the last two seasons. He's a power back with speed. He runs between the tackles. Plus if you piss him off, he'll beat the tar out of you. I keeed. I keeed.

Bernard Scott is a different from Benson. He's quick and is more likely to run around the ends than go up the gut. He's a good change of pace back.

The other two backs are Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman. Leonard has the distinct talent to leap over defenders. Someone should remind him that it's football not hurdles. Peerman is an ordained minister and will come in handy when the Bengals will need a prayer which should be often.

Fullback is Chris Pressley. He's an inspirational story. He rose from extreme poverty to make it in the NFL. Below is a video from his college days of him doing some amazing squats. Let's hope he can pummel some Pittsburgh Steelers with all that strength.

f. Conclusion. There are too many intangibles to judge the offense accurately. Will Dalton play like he did at TCU? Can A.J. Green put up the numbers he's expected? Can the offensive line protect the kid? For all these questions, I rate the offense with a grade of C-.


a. Defensive Line. First let me address the defensive ends. The starters are Robert Geathers and Michael Johnson. Geathers hasn't been good for some time. But Michael Johnson is a fast and tall DE who will wreck havoc on other quarterbacks with his height. He's 6'7" with a wingspan that will block passes. But the guy who will push Geathers will be second year player Carlos Dunlap. He was drafted in the second round last year but has first round talent. Dunlap played only 12 games yet he had 9.5 sacks that broke the record for sacks by a rookie. He's been slightly hurt during the preseason but expect him to make a major impact.

The defensive tackles. Bengals pundits will gush about the depth of the tackles but frankly they are overrated. Domato Peko is a dedicated and solid player. Geno Atkins was good as a rookie but he's not a premiere player. These guys are okay but won't push the pocket like they need to do. None of these guys come close to say a stud like Ndamukong Suh.

b. Linebackers. Slow and old middle linebacker Dhani Jones is gone. He'll be replaced by Rey Maualuga where he should feel at home since at USC he was a leader. The other two starters are free agents Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard. No disrespect here but premiere players do not come to the Bengals as free agents. Anyway these guys will bring more speed. Finally Keith Rivers is on the PUP list and if he could ever return to form, he could be the force that he was drafted for.

c. Cornerbacks. Ah, another player who would rather turn down the money than play for the Bengals. I'm talking about cornerback Jonathan Joseph. He's replaced by veteran free agent Nate Clements who's older and slower. The other corner is Leon Hall. He's much like Andrew Whitworth. He plays for the Bengals and nobody notices how good he is. Hall is an excellent cover corner. Backing these two are Kelly Jennings and Morgan Trent. Both are solid back-ups. and don't forgot about Pacman Jones who will probably need to commit a crime to feel comfortable. I keeed. I keeed.

d. Safeties. Chris Crocker is stand up guy but is long in the tooth. Reggie Nelson was a former first round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He played very well last year. Backup Taylor Mays is big, and fast. He's a freak. But it's time he play like one. He must be able to read where the play is going so he can be there and blow up the offensive player.

e. Conclusion. It all comes down to how much pressure the front four can put on the quarterback. Based on how average the defensive tackles are, the grade for the defense is C.

3. Special Teams. Punt and kick returner is Brandon Tate. He was cut by the New England Patriots. Yet last year he was third in the NFL in returns and he returned two kicks for touchdowns. I don't know who he pissed off but I'm glad the Bengals picked him up.

Punter Kevin Huber is a directional punter. He's got an excellent leg. He better have one because if the offense tanks, he's going to be very busy.

Kicker Mike Nugent is coming off a knee injury. But from what I saw this preseason, he has regained strength and is booming kicks.

Conclusion. Brandon Tate could be a game breaker. The kickers Kevin Huber and Mike Nugent are excellent. The grade is B.

4. Management.

a. GM. There is none. Unless you count owner Mike Brown. Anyway, he's the worst owner of a professional sports team in history of man. He exercises some of the worst judgment ever.

b. The coaching. Head coach Marvin Lewis can only do so much. He might want a practice bubble but he ain't going to get one. He might want more scouts but he can forget about that. Why? Because Brown is arrogant and cheap.

Rookie offensive coordinator Jay Gruden comes over from the UFL. In the UFL, by rule, there are no 3-4 defenses. Unfortunately, the Baltimore Ravens and Steelers use 3-4 defenses. Those defenses have to be salivating.

Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is a passionate leader. He'll get the most out of his men. Hopefully, the team will return to the 2009 form.

5. PROJECTION. It really comes down to QB Andy Dalton. If he's the Mozart of football, the Bengals win the Super Bowl But it's probably going to play like most teams who use a rookie quarterback. And remember this is the Cincinnati Bengals who know how to lose in epic ways. My projections is the Bengals will go 3-13. They will have the first pick of the draft. I have no idea if they will pick Stanford QB Andrew Luck. That all depends on how Andy Dalton plays.

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