Thursday, March 15, 2007

Cincinnati Bengals (8-8)

Before I get started, I know the Jacksonville Jaguars come before the Bengals, but I have asked Davey to do them, and I will fix the order when he's onto the Awesomeness that is the Bengals...ROAR!!!...(yeah, I don't know why I decided to do that, that's probably one of those things that sound better in my head)

2006 season: 8-8
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis
Offensive Coordinator: Bob Bratkowski
Defensive Coordinator:Chuck Bresnahan
Pro-Bowl: Carson Palmer(QB), Chad Johnson(QB) and Willie Anderson(OT)


The Cincinnati Bengal's offense was great yet again this season. They were ranked 8th in total offense and 6th in passing yards per game. After returning from a torn ACL in the first game of the playoffs the season before, Carson Palmer looked to rebound, and rebound he did. He threw for 4,035 yards, which was a career high, he threw 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. And for those impressive numbers he put up he was rewarded with a trip to Hawaii at the season's end. Rudi Johnson continued his streak of at least 1300 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns every year, that is now at 3. He has done it in all 3 of the seasons that he has been a full-time starter. This season Rudi rushed for 1,309 yards, 12 touchdowns and he also caught 23 balls for 124 yards. Speaking of receiving, The Big Three did it again this year. Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry(when not in jail) all had big years. Chad Johnson led the NFL in receiving yards with 1,309, he also chipped in with 87 receptions and 7 touchdowns. For all that "Call Me" Chad was rewarded with another Pro-Bowl selection. T.J. Houshmandzadeh continued to prove that he is the best number two receiver in the NFL with catching 90 balls for 1,081 yards and 9 touchdowns. Chris "how do you plead" Henry proved that he was the Bengals number 1 redzone threat with catching 9 touchdowns. He also had 36 receptions and 605 yards. You can trust me when I say he would've had a lot more if he could've just stayed out of trouble. The Bengals continued to have one of the best offensive lines with stars such as Levi Jones, Willie Anderson and Eric Steinbech(now with the Browns). One of the biggest problems on offense for the Bengals is that they don't have a threat at tight end. Reggie Kelly's 21 receptions and 254 yards and 1 touchdown just aren't going to get it done.


And much like expecting the offense of Cincinnati to be great, you expect the defense of the Bengals to be bad, and bad they were. Cincy's defense ranked 30th in total yards allowed per game with allowing 355.1 total yards. Surprisingly the Bengal's run defense wasn't that bad, ranking 15th allowing 116.4 per game, not that's not great by any means but it's decent enough. Now you can go with the "at least the run game was decent" plea, but sadly you can't say the same for the Bengal's pass defense. They were tied for last place in the entire NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. They allowed 238.6 through the air and that was due to a lack-luster secondary. The secondary of Cincy is kind of confusing in a way, and by that I mean, they get a lot of tackles and they get a lot of interceptions but they can't cover a 6-year old school girl. They have some young guys that have tons of potential such as Madieu Williams and Johnathan Joseph but other than those two guys they are kind of old and not very good. Williams led the secondary with 88 tackles and he also snagged 3 interceptions. Joseph tallied 57 tackles and recovered 2 fumbles in his rookie year. Other notable secondary contributors were Kevin Kaesviharn who had a great year with 63 tackles, 4 sacks and led the team with 6 interceptions, he also was not retained and signed with the New Orleans Saints(Brian Simmons did the same), Tory James added to his amazing career total that now stands at 39 career interceptions with 4 more this season. He also had 41 tackles and 10 passes defended. The Bengals had to do without the athleticism and great pass rushing abilities of David Pollack this season. Pollack broke his neck in week 2 and was lost for the season and he may have ended his career unless he decides to try and play again. Landon Johnson led the Bengals with 112 tackles, he also added 0.5 sacks and 1 interceptions. Also having another great season was Justin Smith. He racked up 81 tackles, 7.5 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries. And rounding out the Bengals front seven was Caleb Miller who was forced into the starting role and shined, getting 99 tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble and 1 recovered fumble.

Special Teams

Shayne Graham didn't have as good of a season as he did two years ago, but still he had a pretty good season nonetheless, hitting 83.3% of his field goals and a total of 25-30. Kyle Larson also had a pretty good season with an punt average of 44.5, 11 touchbacks and 26 punts that landed inside the 20 yard line. On the other had, punt returns were a problem with Keiwan Ratliff getting the majority of them. He had a abysmal average of 6.5 per return and 176 yards. Glenn Holt shouldered majority of the load when Chris Perry went down with an injury(again) and he had a very nice average of 24.6 yards per kick return and 419 total yards.

Draft Notes

The Bengals have some significant needs, most of which are on the defensive side of the ball. For instance, we could really upgrade all facets of the secondary, meaning a safety and a cornerback. Then we could definitely use some help at defensive tackle, although our run defense wasn't as bad as it was in recent years, but it is still isn't good by any means. A solid pass catcher at Tight End is something that we haven't had, maybe ever and it is really becoming more and more important to offenses these days. And finally we could really use some depth on our offensive line. With the loss of the versatile Eric Steinbech, it really leaves a hole that must be filled in order to sustain a top tier running attack.

Positions that must be addressed during the draft.

1. Defensive Tackle
2. Safety
3. Cornerback
4. Tight End
5. Offensive Line


Like I said, defensive tackle is probably the number one need for us going into the draft. Sam Adams and John Thornton are just not getting the job done and Domata Peko may not be the answer either. Although this is our biggest need we probably won't address the need until the 2nd round or even the middle rounds. If I had it my way we would somehow land the second best DT in the draft, and that is Amobi Okoye. But unless we trade up to somewhere around #11-#13, we won't get him. So that would leave us with going after someone in the middle rounds, someone to look out for is Ryan McBean of Oklahoma State, he is a guy with great potential, but he is one of those "Huge Stars or Big Busts", but he may be worth the risk. Another guy to look at is Antonio Johnson. Johnson went to Mississippi State for two years and although he didn't have stellar numbers he has tremendous potential and is could really be a steal for the team that chooses him.


The Bengals do have a need at safety, that much is clear. Madieu Williams is a great young star but other than him, there is just no one left. Dexter Jackson is a short term fill and Kevin Kaesviharn has left so they literally have no depth at either safety position. I would absolutely love the idea of Cincy getting Micheal Griffin with their 18th overall pick. He is probably the second or third safety in this years draft(depending on who you ask). Griffin has had 4 very good seasons at Texas including 124 and 126 tackle seasons the past two years. He has great speed, he's very tough and physical and would go along way in improving both the pass and the rush defense for the Bengals immediately. If we don't take him(I pray we do) then we could look at someone like Brandon Meriweather out of Miami or Aaron Rouse out of Virginia Tech in the 2nd round. Both are very good and should turn out to be very good pros but neither one are at the level Griffin is.


In all likely hood we will be taking a cornerback in the first round if we decide to pass on Griffin. Now who that would be really depends on who is available. With the recent trade of Willis McGahee the Bill are probably looking at taking Marshawn Lynch with the 12th pick, and that could mean that the #1 overall cornerback, Leon Hall, could fall to the Bengals and if he does they could find it hard to not pick him. He is a great cover corner that is technically sound in a facets of the game and has a great understanding of the game, and can shut down most receivers. There is a possibility that he could play both corner and safety and if that holds up that he could fill two holes that Cincy has immensely. Other possibilities are Eric Wright(UNLV), David Irons(AUB) and Tarrell Brown(TEX).


Although on paper, this group of tight ends doesn't look all that great, it does have a couple of standout stars and a couple of guys that I feel have a lot of upside. Obviously Greg Olsen of Miami, really distanced himself as the top tier tight end at the combine and added to his great stock that he already had by running a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash and is a top 15 pick this year. Zach Miller out of Arizona State is also another tight end with lots of talent and will most likely go in the 2nd round. But someone I am really high on right now is Ben Patrick of Delaware. He is a 6'4" 250 pound tight end from a little school who can do big things given the chance in the NFL. He has good size, great athlete with very soft hands and is an excellent route runner. Given the chance he could prove to be an absolute "GEM" of the draft, i'm talking Pro-Bowl type player in a few short years.


After losing Steinbech to free agency the Bengals have a glaring need at right guard. Someone that could thrive in the Bengals system is Josh Beekman out of Boston College. He is has good size and gets a great push in the run game. He is very much fundamentally sound and has very good strength and awareness. HE really has great instincts and intangibles, all the things that teams look for in a long-time starter in the NFL. I also like Manuel Ramirez out of Texas Tech. He is probably the strongest player in the draft, benching over 550 pounds and he would do wonders for Cincinnati's running game, the only knock on him is he isn't really all that athletic. From the tackle position, i'm really high on Tony Ugoh out of Arkansas. He's 6'5" 301 pounds and is extremely athletic and versatile. He has great quickness and is very strong. He could probably play both guard and tackle, with that ability he reminds me a lot of Steinbech. he could pack on some weight though.

I see no reason whatsoever why the Cincinnati Bengals can't return to the playoffs this coming year. If they can avoid getting into trouble(CHRIS!!!) and stay healthy then they should be just fine. I see them winning the AFC North and winning around 12-14 games.

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