The Cincinnati Bengals in three short years have gone from a veteran team to a very young team and seems to be headed for good things for many years to come. I make this statement because of what the Bengals have done in 2011 and how they have done it. Below is a chart of Bengals starting lineup in 2008 and 2011. After you look it over I will state my view of why this Bengals team is better than any since 1989 including 2005. But will compare 2008 and 2011 morphing from one to the other.
|Offense Position||Player 2008||Player 2011|
|1 Wide Receiver||Chad Ohco Cinco||A.J. Green|
|2 Wide Receiver||T.J. Houshmandzadeh||Jerome Simpson|
|Tight End||Reggie Kelly
|Right Tackle||Stacy Andrews||Andre Smith|
|Right Guard||Bobbie Williams||Bobbie Williams|
|Center||Eric Ghiaciuc||Kyle Cook|
|Left Guard||Andrew Whitworth
|Left Tackle||Levi Jones
|Right Defensive End||Antwan Odom
|Right Defensive Tackle||John Thornton||Geno Atkins|
|Left Defensive Tackle||Domato Peko||Domato Peko|
|Left Defensive End||Robert Geathers
|Left Outside Linebacker||Rashad Jeanty||Manny Lawson|
|Middle Linebacker||Dhani Jones||Rey Maualuga|
|Right Outside Linebacker||Keith River
|Right Cornerback||Leon Hall||Leon Hall|
|Left Cornerback||Jonathan Joseph
|Safety||Chris Crocker||Chris Crocker|
|Special Teams Player|
|Place Kicker||Shane Graham||Mike Nugent|
|Punter||Kyle Larson||Kevin Huber|
|Kickoff Returner||Glenn Holt||Brandon Tate|
|Punt Returner||Antonio Chatman||Brandon Tate|
Of the 22 starting player 26 including special teams, only 6 players who were starter at their position remain the same. You can add 2 more if you consider Whitworth moving to tackle at the end of 2008 and Nate Living taking his place. The coaching staff in 2008 had two new coaches so we will included them in the morphing to 2011 because they didn't have time for noticeable positive results from their units during 2008.
|Offensive Cooordinator||Bob Bratkowski||Jay Gruden|
|Quarterback||Ken Zampese||Ken Zampese|
|Runningback||Jim Anderson||Jim Anderson|
|Wide Receiver||Mike Shepard||James Urban|
|Tight End||Jonathan Hayes||Jonathan Hayes|
|Defensive Coordinator||Mike Zimmer
|Defensiveline||Jay Hayes||Jay Hayes|
|Defensive back||Kevin Coyle||Kevin Coyle|
Four new coaches have been added since January first 2008. And there has been very noticeable changes in each unit these coaches took over. The coaches are Mike Zimmer, Jeff Fitzgerald, Jay Gruden, and James Urban. Each unit is now aggressive instead of working off what the other team is giving them.
Back to the players who have changed the makeup of the Bengals.
The most noticeable is the QB. Carson Palmer lead the team since 2004 (drafted 2003). And took them to the playoffs two years. but has really under performed since his injury in 2005. At that time you could consider him as one of the best three QB's in the NFL. Since then he seemed to worry more about changing the plays instead of going with the play. He also seemed to hurry the ball and his arm seemed weaker. He refused to play for Bengals in 2011. The Bengals had to decide, draft a QB of chase after a veteran. They chose draft a QB.
The Bengals preparing for the draft had Andy Dalton on their radar become many considered him more pro ready than others, but thought to lack the arm strength. Bengals thinking he would still be there, waited until round two and was lucky he was still there and they drafted him. Without an off season to work with him, Andy Dalton seems to be ahead of Carson Palmer in controlling the game. But to be fair, one does not know if it was coaching (Bob Bratkowski) or his receivers (Chad Ohco Cinco and Terrell Owens) who made Carson Palmer look lost during the 2010 season.
Second most noticeable unit is the receivers. Chad Ocho Cinco has been with Bengals since 2001 and Terrell Owens has been in league since 1996. Both consider two of the best receivers in the NFL. After watching both, they are two of the most talented. Both two is the least coach able because they have ego problems.
The Bengals start 2011 with two receivers with a total of 4 games between them. Jerome Simpson (four games at end of 2010 season) and #4 pick in 2011 NFL draft. It is early yet, but I believe these guys have just as much talent as Ohco Cinco and Owens. But what makes thing good is these guys are coach able because they haven't received the fame or been in the league long enough to develop bad habits.
Third most noticeable unit is the TE where Reggie Kelly and Daniel Coats were two starting TEs in 2008. Usaully just one TE started but at times there are two TE set. Reggie Kelly was one of the best blocking TE's and was average receiver. Daniel Coats was neither'
Jermaine Gresham was drafted in 2009 in first round and has shown he is a solid blocker and very good receiver. Donald Lee has played in the NFL since 2003 and very good blocking TE and doesn't have bad hands as a receiver. These two TE's are heads and shoulders above the 2008 TE's although Kelly was a top notch blocker and good leader.
The running back remains the same but benson didn't start until game 6 in 2008 taking over for failed first round draft pick Chris Perry. Benson was picked up mid season as a free agent.
The offensive line isn't a premier line yet, but are much better than 2008. Bobbie Williams remain at his position. But Andre Smith takes over for flop project Stacy Andrews, Kyle Cook takes over for flop project Eric Ghiaciuc, Living takes over for Whitworth who has move to left tackle where he took over for injured Levi Jones. In last couple of years. These guys have improved leaps and bounds with their pass blocking but could get much better in their run blocking. Still but pass and run blocking could improve.
The morphing of Bengals doesn't stop on offense side of ball, it has improved dramaticly on defensive side of ball. Four starters still remain from 2008. Geathers, Peko, Hall and Crocker. Although none seem to be better than 2008, I believe all is giving up personal fame for team concept.
Number one unit improvement on defensive side of ball is the line. Where Geathers and Peko remain starters. But neither are in every play. The line unit is very interchangable parts who are pretty much equal in talent. You can plug anyone in each spot and never miss a beat. The tackles are Peko, Sims, Atkins and Fanene. The ends are Geathers, Johnson, Dunlap, Rucker and Fanene. Big diffence than having often injured Odom and Thorton.
Number two improve unit on defense is linebackers. Rey Muauluga replaced Dhani Jones. Jones was the smart veteran but Muauluga has more talent and strength and has shown he belong in the middle after playing outside last two years. Howard and Lawson replace Jeanty and Rivers. To be fair it was Rivers first year. Howard and Lawson has shown veteran leadership and talent second and first round draft picks 2006 over Jeanty and Rivers CFL player and rookie. This is a solid group with very good backups in Brandon Johnson, and Skuta.
Our DB's have improve slightly with the addition of Reggie Nelson over Nudukwe.
One unit with very extra high marks of improvement. Special teams especially kickers. Nugent and Huber has two of the strongest kicking legs in the NFL as our kicker and punter. And both can also kick with accuracy. Nugent makes most his field goals even outside of 50 yards and Huber can pin a team inside the 10 when called upon to do it. although Graham was accurate until later, he never could kick for distance and huber is heads over heels better than Larson. And Tate is better than Chatman and Holt though not one of top in the league.
In the last 3 years four coaches and several players make the Bengals future bright. Zimmer and Fitzgerald has made the defensive aggressive and smart. On the other side of the ball, Gruden and Urban has done the same thing. The offense hasn't been as aggressive as they will be. But they are much more aggressive than Bratkowski's units since 2006.
That is the make up of the inside parts. But the front office seems better also. The Bengals have most their better veterans locked up for future years, have much cap room to manuver, and many high draft picks in near future.
When all is said and done. The Bengals are set up for the future quite well. No aging veteran other than Bobbie Williams, already a good team in their division and many positive options for the future.
The morphing of the Bengals began in 2008 and won't be complete until 2013. when the new and current NFL CBA works in their favor. The 90's are behind us and 2000 to 2010 are behind us. The Bengals future looks very bright indeed.