The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs the last two years and three out of four years but have not won a playoff game. What if things go Bengals way this year? What if Marvin Lewis decides that his coordinators decide what is best for their units instead of Marvin pushing his agenda. Point to be made. In 2009 the Bengals made playoffs as a running team, next year Marvin decides we need to be a passing team. Result we go from 10-6 to 4-12. What if Marvin Lewis starts benching under performing veterans and replace them hungry young back ups. Point to be made. Michael Johnson playing behind Fanene and Rucker. Result Fanene and Rucker combined had 10 sacks in 2011 while Michael Johnson had 13 in 2012. Robert Geathers hasn't had more than 3.5 sacks since 2006 when he was young and hungry Carlos Dunlap has had 20 in last three years and never under 5 sacks. What if Marvin would have let Benson be the primary RB instead of RB by committee with Scott?
I showed you a couple of example if Marvin would of stayed out of way and let Zimmer play who he wanted in there and Gruden free to do what he wanted. In 2011 and 2012 Marvin Lewis was forced to play the young players. In 2011 it was Jerome Simpson making his debut as starter. He made many mistakes with a few drops but could he have been a better player if he got to play before his 4th year. In 2012 Marvin Lewis has held Sanu, Jones, Stills, and Thompson back in 2012. Hopefully their talent is used in 2013.
Mike Mayock has labeled the Bengals 2012 draft class as red shirts. Meaning they sat out a year to be more involved the next. And this could come true, depending on Marvin. What if the light goes on in Marvin's head? I believe the Bengals scout are giving the Bengals excellent players but not getting them on the field is like coaching them down. Through out my many years of watching the NFL and listening to coaches and players. I know there are practice players and game time players. Practice players are those who do great in practice at a slower pace but come game time the pace is to quick for them. Game players are the opposite, in practices the pace is to slow and they can't be over aggressive running their plays because you don't get wins and losses in practice. Then you have those who do well with both. The Bengals have many of those as starters but also have practice players starting instead of game players. One such player is Rey Maualuga. He is under aggressive at game time although we here he practices well. This year for inside linebackers, Rey was 5th in missed tackles and #1 in giving up most yards after a catch. And had 0 pass defenses.
So how could this team look if Marvin kicks under performer out in the street. I believe we can have a championship team. Follow me as I will start changing the lineup with the what ifs replacements. First I going to start with our biggest area of need. The line backing core. Basically all the linebackers are free agents except Burfict, newly signed Maybin and Brandon Joiner who was just release from prison. I would let Rey walk and sign Lawson, Howard and Vincent Rey. Skuta can go with Rey M. Again we are going with what if they perform as expected. My starting linebackers would be Burfict in the middle with Howard and Joiner. I expect Joiner to follow in the steps of Burfict and become a model players. If Rey Lewis can be forgiven for his crimes, why not Joiner and Burfict. At DB my what if would be Hall, Kirkpatrick, Newman and Adams as my top corners. Going with Allen and Nelson at safety. Across the D Line I let Geathers walk and have Stills replace Peko as starter. With this lineup you have hungry young players and very good veterans backing them up.
On offense you go with QB Dalton, Green and Jones to the outside with Sanu in slot. Gresham and Charles at TE. But here are this years changes. In first two rounds I would draft a center, tackle and a running back. Let every free agent offensive player walk except Smith and Hawkins.
Starting offensive line would be Whitworth, Boling, Robinson, Zeitler and Smith. With Wharton as top guard backup and the drafted centers soon replacing Robinson unless Robinson keeps getting better with a possible Pro Bowl vote. And the new tackle ready to replace Whit or Smith.
What if they all perform to potential and Marvin let the coordinators call their game. And the injuries were minimal. Do you believe this team is talented enough to go all the way?