Let's review, preview and analyze the new Cincinnati Bengals.
I'm going to start from the top down and look at the positive steps of each section of the team. The owner Mike Brown and Bengals front office officials have made some positive steps. Number one positive step is having complete ownership of the Cincinnati Bengals, so there can be no in fighting among shareholders. After taking full ownership. The Bengals restructured the ticket pricing for most of the stadium. Some sections ticket prices went down. While other sections had a slight increases. Still, it made it easier for those less fortunate to afford Cincinnati Bengals tickets. The Bengals made the move, allowing director of football operations to retire. Not giving the title to anyone else, but the director of scouting Duke Tobin seems to be in charge. They added two scouts, one out West and one in the South. The Bengals also moved training camp inside the city for the fans, so the players could be closer to home.
There was also changes in the coaching staff adding Mark Carrier and Hue Jackson. Last year Bengals added James Urban receivers coach who was with Philadelphia 2004-2010. Kyle Caskey as assistant offensive line coach, Brayden Coombs offensive assistant to Jay Gruden and David Lippincott as defenses assistant to linebacker coach Paul Guenther. Paul Guenther although on staff last year replaces Jeff Fitzgerald, who wasn't re-signed. Paul has been an assistant with Bengals for eight years. Along with these additions were extensions for Jay Gruden, Mike Zimmer and head coach Marvin Lewis.
Although Marvin Lewis been here for 10 years. This could be the first year you can actually say this is his team completely. Only two coaches Anderson and Alexander were here before Marvin. And they were here three head coaches before Marvin. There is not one player on the roster that was here before Marvin. In fact, only one player has been on the team going into his eighth year. That player is Robert Geathers and Marvin drafted him. So make no mistake that this is Marvin's team. Two players leaving the team last year you could say belong to Mike Brown. Those two players was Chad Johnson, who was drafted before Marvin got here and Carson Palmer, who was drafted the year Marvin got here. So let's give both picks to Mike Brown.
So here we are 2012. Marvin has had three winning seasons and three losing seasons since he is been here the rest of them have been break even. Marvin in my view has made strides in being a better coach. But to me he plays conservative when I believe the team would play better being aggressive. Only one year did I see Marvin let his team get aggressive for the whole season. That was 2005 a team that may have made it to the big show if the QB Palmer and WR Henry didn't go down with injury the second play of game.
The key to any good football team starts in the trenches. So let's check out the trenches. Every player starting on the defensive line was drafted by the Bengals. Three players on a offensive line was drafted by the Bengals, Whitworth, Smith and Zeitler, one player, was a college free-agent signed to another club and released and added to the Bengals practice squad Kyle Cook and one sign as a free agent this year Travelle Wharton. The Bengals made the playoffs with a not so good offensive line last year. The two main problems were not re-signed this year Living and McGlynn. Without having one start together. Some people were saying the Bengals have one of the best offensive lines in football because of drafting a first-round guard and picking up a very good free-agent guard who was cut because of cap reasons. Even with a bad offensive line last year the Bengals were third in giving ups the least amount of sacks.
The defensive line. Put enough pressure on the other teams that they faced, were the top 10 in pass, rushing and total defense. So for the first time in Marvin Lewis era, the trenches are solid. DT Peko and Atkins and DE's Johnson and Geathers. DT rotation of should consist of rookie Stills and Thompson and DE rotation should be two former top 6 picks in Harvey and Anderson.
|Clint Boling||23||2||Geno Atkins||24||3|
|Anthony Collins||26||5||Robert Geathers||28||9|
|Kyle Cook||29||5||Carlos Dunlap||23||3|
|Travell Wharton||31||9||Michael Johnson||25||4|
|Andrew Whitworth||30||7||Domata Peko||27||7|
|Kevin Zeitler||22||R||Devon Still||23||R|
|Dennis Roland||29||5||Brandon Thompson||22||R|
|Andre Smith||25||4||Jamaal Anderson||26||6|
The rest of the defense is looking good for the future. Expected starters.
We have a young hungry defense who finish top 10 a year ago. What is good is even the signed free agent players have something to prove especially at CB. With so many first round CBs, they know they aren't sticking because where they were drafted. They are staying because they are doing the work.
Other than the offensive line, the offense has a few question marks but on paper looks very talented.
QB second year Dalton was first rookie QB to start every game and lead his team to the playoffs. A big positive when many were expecting the team to finish no better than 2010 when they were 4-12. Gradkowski will be backing up Dalton and does have experience starting. A good QB to have as a backup.
Runningback is even a bigger question mark. Green Ellis had over 1600 yards last couple years. In 2010 he had over 1000 yards on 229 carries while starting 11 games.The Patriots last year went with an extra TE instead of RB and Green Ellis only started 6 games for 667 yards. Measure Green Ellis 2010 to Cedric Benson last year and Green Ellis rush for 60 less yards on 44 less carries, averaging 4.4 yards a carry. With improved line I expect Green Ellis to get over 1100 yards this season. Also in mix is Benard Scott who I believe won't make team and Cedric Peerman and Brian Leonard.
I believe for first time since 80's we have a solid TE group. Gresham, Charles and Cochart are good receiving TE's plus we have veteran Donald Lee who is a very good blocker and can also catch. if Cochart looks good then I expect Lee to not make team.
That leaves receiver. I think Green is our best WR since Isaac Curtis and we have had some good ones. I think no matter who gets to play slot, we will be solid there with Shipley leading the way. Sanu would be close behind. I don't think Hawkins makes team. Going for #2 receiver is Binns, Tate and Jones. My bet is on Binns but it could be any of them. They all have the speed to take pressure off Green.
Only 5 players on whole roster has reached 30 years of age. And only one has reach 33 (Terrance Newman). If Bengals do make it to Super Bowl, they are young enough to start a dynasty.
The Bengals in 2013 can fill any hole with having a first and two second round picks. With the way the CBA is set up and with the cap room this year. The Bengals will be able to sign any of their free agents to long term contracts. No team will be able to out bid them. If they win, no player will want to leave with a fair contract offer. Only three reasons free agents change teams. Money, a chance to start and a chance to go to Super Bowl. All of that is covered if they make it far into the playoffs.
But what if they don't make playoffs? The Bengals are still in good shape to keep the players they want with the new cap system. So the only players that might want to leave is those who don't think we will make playoffs in 2013 and those players have a very limited number of teams to choose from if there are any at all.
The coaching future. Many think we could lose Zimmer or Gruden if we win. I have a feeling that Mike, Marvin and Mike talked about how to keep Zimmer here if there were offers coming his way. I believe Zimmer already signed a big contract and just the head coaching position, not the money would make him think about leaving. In that case, I believe that Marvin has agreed to move to front office if it happens. I believe Gruden, Zimmer, and Lewis was signed to an extension to have the players know that there is continuity with the coaching staff for the future. But the kick is this, Mike Brown was working to get Zimmer signed before he would sign Marvin to an extension. And Mike Brown was listening to Zimmer on how he could keep him loyal to the Bengals. Zimmer wants his chance at being head coach. Marvin wants his Super Bowl. If Marvin gets his Super Bowl this year, he moves up if Zimmer gets head coaching offers. If not Marvin stays put for another year and the steps aside for Zimmer to take over the following year. If Marvin doesn't make playoffs, then Zimmer becomes head coach and Marvin moves to front office right away.
This year we should see if Marvin makes the playoffs or not. The Bengals future looks bright, no more over the hill veterans or holding on to the injured because they aren't any better players on the roster. No longer are we holding on to used parts. If something breaks, we buy new.