• The Morphing of the Cincinnati Bengals

      By Larry S.

      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
      Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick
      Carson Palmer
      Andy Dalton
      Runningback Cedric Benson
      Chris Perry
      Cedric Benson
      1 Wide Receiver Chad Ohco Cinco A.J. Green
      2 Wide Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh Jerome Simpson
      Tight End Reggie Kelly
      Daniel Coats
      Jermaine Gresham
      Donald Lee
      Right Tackle Stacy Andrews Andre Smith
      Right Guard Bobbie Williams Bobbie Williams
      Center Eric Ghiaciuc Kyle Cook
      Left Guard Andrew Whitworth
      Nate Livings
      Nate Livings
      Left Tackle Levi Jones
      Anthony Collins
      Andrew Whitworth
      Defense Position
      Right Defensive End Antwan Odom
      JonathanFanene
      Michael Johnson
      Right Defensive Tackle John Thornton Geno Atkins
      Left Defensive Tackle Domato Peko Domato Peko
      Left Defensive End Robert Geathers
      Frostee Rucker
      Robert Geathers
      Left Outside Linebacker Rashad Jeanty Manny Lawson
      Middle Linebacker Dhani Jones Rey Maualuga
      Right Outside Linebacker Keith River
      Brandon Johnson
      Thomas Howeard
      Right Cornerback Leon Hall Leon Hall
      Left Cornerback Jonathan Joseph
      David Jones
      Nate Clemons
      Safety Nedu Ndukwe
      Marvin White
      Reggie Nelson
      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.

      Coaches 2008 2011
      Offensive Cooordinator Bob Bratkowski Jay Gruden
      Quarterback Ken Zampese Ken Zampese
      Offensiveline Alexander Alexander
      Runningback Jim Anderson Jim Anderson
      Wide Receiver Mike Shepard James Urban
      Tight End Jonathan Hayes Jonathan Hayes
      Defensive Coordinator Mike Zimmer
      Bresnahan 2007
      Mike Zimmer
      Defensiveline Jay Hayes Jay Hayes
      Linebacker Jeff Fitzgerald
      2007 Hunley
      Jeff Fitzgerald
      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.
      Comments 16 Comments
      1. Super Cat's Avatar
        Super Cat -
        It does look like things are falling into place. The CBA works in Bengals favor with the rookie salaries. The actual real money counting as cap space. Contact length for rookie is mandatory 4 years with club option fifth year.
      1. sandwedge's Avatar
        sandwedge -
        The only thing scary is the 1 constant and that is MFB!!! I don't know if he fell into luck with the Carson trade or what, but I will give him credit for that. The players we have are very talented and one of the things I have noticed is that older players that have lost a step or 2 have been showed the door and replaced with faster and more willing players. In years past we just stuck with vet players that were crappy out of loyalty.
      1. I_C_DeadPeople's Avatar
        I_C_DeadPeople -
        Well, going in the right direction and maintaining the right direction are two different things. Having said that, you have to do the first before the second so at least we have made it that far.
      1. FieldMopBengal's Avatar
        FieldMopBengal -
        Are we supposed to all forget that this team has morphed before with Marvin Lewis at the helm , I consider this to be the 3'rd morphing under Marvin Lewis . The 1'st morphing took place --- 03 ---- 04 ---- 05 , the 2'nd began at halftime Jan.8'th 2006 , and now we are beginning morph #3 .
      1. Super Cat's Avatar
        Super Cat -
        Quote Originally Posted by FieldMopBengal View Post
        Are we supposed to all forget that this team has morphed before with Marvin Lewis at the helm , I consider this to be the 3'rd morphing under Marvin Lewis . The 1'st morphing took place --- 03 ---- 04 ---- 05 , the 2'nd began at halftime Jan.8'th 2006 , and now we are beginning morph #3 .
        I don't think he morph, I think he made bad decision. I believe the coordinators will make him look good. He got rid of Frazier when he should of kept him, he kept Bresnahan when he should of got rid of him. He beg Mike for one more chance and came out on top with Gruden and Zimmer.
      1. LimaBengal's Avatar
        LimaBengal -
        Let's just hope that when ticket sales pick back up, Mike doesn't settle back into mediocrity....as is his history.
      1. Le Tigre's Avatar
        Le Tigre -
        See...this is where this "ticket sales = changes made" shit really irks me. It doesn't compute.

        The "changes"--which were going to be made anyway--were done well before the general ticket sales or season ticket renewals were even started or completed.

        And no, don't go off of the end of last year as the "changes" starting point either--no one would or could have known what the actual 2011 sales projections would have been.
      1. Dixonator's Avatar
        Dixonator -
        Quote Originally Posted by FieldMopBengal View Post
        Are we supposed to all forget that this team has morphed before with Marvin Lewis at the helm , I consider this to be the 3'rd morphing under Marvin Lewis . The 1'st morphing took place --- 03 ---- 04 ---- 05 , the 2'nd began at halftime Jan.8'th 2006 , and now we are beginning morph #3 .
        Bada-bing! We've got the winner on the real memory sweepstakes here. Again, yes it's great the bengals are doing well and they're doing much better than I anticipated this year, in fact much better than most any analyst who watches the NFL regularly anticipated. But keep in mind, we've beaten mostly swill and it was just a few years ago when we started 5-0 only to finish 8-8. Yeah, call me skeptical, but -- again, -- these clods have earned it.
        Your most humble and loyal servant,
        Dixonator
        Adventurer/patriot extraordinaire
      1. spicoli's Avatar
        spicoli -
        Quote Originally Posted by Dixonator View Post
        Bada-bing! We've got the winner on the real memory sweepstakes here. Again, yes it's great the bengals are doing well and they're doing much better than I anticipated this year, in fact much better than most any analyst who watches the NFL regularly anticipated. But keep in mind, we've beaten mostly swill and it was just a few years ago when we started 5-0 only to finish 8-8. Yeah, call me skeptical, but -- again, -- these clods have earned it.
        That argument doesn't really carry much weight...they beat the 5-2 Bills on the road who in turn have beaten the Pats and the Iggles.

        They beat the Jags on the road who then beat the Ravens.

        They beat Indy, as did Shittsburgh, but the Steelers needed a last second FG to pull it out.

        Point is, any team can win on any given Sunday.
      1. Le Tigre's Avatar
        Le Tigre -
        It's called bet-hedging, Spicoli. Dix has to throw in a qualifier for the record, in the event we drop a game or two to whom he considers "real teams". That way, he can continue saying the Bengals stink and haven't changed anything.

        As long as we win, he's quiet as a mouse. Let's hope the mice continue to stay quiet for the rest of the season.
      1. SladeX's Avatar
        SladeX -
        All I wanted was a well-coached team. Seems like we are on the right track.

        Still skeptical about the long term. The only antidote for that: "just win baby". The team wins, I get more excited. Put together a nice run over a few seasons, then I'll be receptive to "morphing tigers". As a long-suffering fan of this team, I have EARNED THE RIGHT TO BE SKEPTICAL, dammit.
      1. Stryker57's Avatar
        Stryker57 -
        LT- I dont know the fans screaming push the brat decission up a year, we all know that it is a rareity that soP cuts a coach or player still under contract.

        Dixonator- your part right, true we havent beat anyone considered premier this year but the Bills, BUT in fairness we have beaten team we should have. which is a change from the normal years.
      1. puddycat's Avatar
        puddycat -
        Quote Originally Posted by Stryker57 View Post
        in fairness we have beaten team(s) we should have, which is a change from the normal years.
        This. This is the mark of a well coached team IMO. It's much harder to win consistently than to pull off the occasional big upset.
      1. Super Cat's Avatar
        Super Cat -
        Quote Originally Posted by puddycat View Post
        This. This is the mark of a well coached team IMO. It's much harder to win consistently than to pull off the occasional big upset.
        The operative word is team.
        “It’s not a one- or two-man team anymore,” said defensive lineman Frostee Rucker, a six-year veteran and one of the several game captains that has made an appearance this season even though he’s not a starter. “Nothing against anyone, but it’s a great team feeling. It’s not about a show or anything like that. It’s just about going out with two or three units and playing effective team ball.”
        Plus, Lewis had an interesting conversation with running back Cedric Benson during training camp.
        “He asked me about making the offensive line the captains and I joked with him, ‘I can see through you. You’ve got your own reasons,’ ’’ Lewis said. “But I can see where Ced was coming from. If they go, we go. And if we’re running the ball, we’re doing well as a team. And if you look at the captains we’ve had, probably about 70 percent of them have come from the offensive line.
        “I don’t ever think we had a cancer in the locker room," says safety Chris Crocker, one of the old pros that has been here since ’08. “I think we had some guys that were selfish, that were worried about themselves, but I think this is a good locker room. You've got guys that care about football and just want to win.”
        These are words from our veterans.

        This a quote from another teams player looking in.
        “You are shocked in the way or you are impressed in the way that your go-to receiver can be a rookie, your starting quarterback can be a rookie, all of the offseason turmoil goes on and they're able to overcome it,” Clark said. “I think the big thing is once those things were handled, once they knew Carson (Palmer) wasn't going to start, once you get (Chad) Ochocinco out, I think it became Marvin Lewis's team and he's been doing a great job leading them.
        “You're just impressed with what they're able to do but not surprised because you always knew they had talent; they just had to get things together.”
        And then we go to player that has been here left and went with two Super Bowl teams Patroits and Steelers.
        “What they like,” says former Bengals cornerback Artrell Hawkins, “is there’s not the extracurricular activity. It’s not one big side show. No one wants to be that guy. They shy away from the spotlight. It’s hard to get them on the radio to pat them on the back.”
        Hawkins, who has been around the AFC’s two most successful teams of the young century, most recently these Steelers that are at Paul Brown Stadium for Sunday’s AFC North first-place showdown (1 p.m.-Cincinnati’s Local 12), did. Hawkins, who ended his 10-year NFL career as one of Bill Belichick’s valued Patriots professionals, finally sees the "It" factor in the Bengals locker room.
        “What’s impressive is that this team understands how it works in the NFL,” says Hawkins, an analyst on the Bengals Radio Network. “When I came back here, the differences between the Patriots and Bengals were glaring. But this team is like that team in New England. This mentality is the right one to have. This is how you win.”
        Yes for the first time in a long time I see a team in Cincinnati.
      1. Dixonator's Avatar
        Dixonator -
        Quote Originally Posted by spicoli View Post
        That argument doesn't really carry much weight...they beat the 5-2 Bills on the road who in turn have beaten the Pats and the Iggles.

        They beat the Jags on the road who then beat the Ravens.

        They beat Indy, as did Shittsburgh, but the Steelers needed a last second FG to pull it out.

        Point is, any team can win on any given Sunday.
        So which team besides the bills are not swill this year? Like I said, call me a skeptic but these clods earned it. Who-dey! By the way, I was at the Jag-Raven game, believe me, the team that sucked the least won because that was some real crappy football.
        Your most humble and loyal servant,
        Dixonator
        Adventurer/patriot extraordinaire
      1. Dixonator's Avatar
        Dixonator -
        Quote Originally Posted by Stryker57 View Post
        LT-

        Dixonator- your part right, true we havent beat anyone considered premier this year but the Bills, BUT in fairness we have beaten team we should have. which is a change from the normal years.
        Agreed.
        Your most humble and loyal servant,
        Dixonator
        Adventurer/patriot extraordinaire
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