The Bengals are one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL this year. Their problems begin at the most important position, a position they used to find strength in. Carson Palmer is no longer a good quarterback, nor is he decent. His 78.5 QB Rating even with the weapons surrounding him show just how poor he has been. Palmer is no longer a strong-armed slinger. In fact, he is probably the worst QB in the league in terms of arm strength. At 31, it is time to say good bye to Palmer and not to the great coach Marvin Lewis.
Let’s stick with that train of thought. I have no idea why Lewis is on the hot seat. Well, it’s actually because the President of the team is an idiot. Marvin Lewis is a fine NFL coach, and you just don’t constantly fire head coaches especially when the problems are with the personnel. The Bengals have talented players, but Mike Brown doesn’t bring in the players that fit their scheme. The Bengals are well coached, as they have the best defensive coordinator in the league with Mike Zimmer.
Cedric Benson is a hard-nosed rusher that is one of the fifteen best in the league. That’s no easy feat. Bernard Scott is a capable backup. Jermaine Gresham is a great rookie with a promising career ahead of him. He looks like the perfect possession player. As much as critics critique Ochocinco, he is on pace for 78 catches even with Palmer at the helm. Terrell Owens is putting together a wonderful season that is stapling his Hall of Fame case that I strongly believe in. However, that’s another story. T.O. may be great this year and exceeding all likely expectations, this is most likely his last season in the league. Cincy needs to find a #3 receiver, because they already have a prospective star #2 receiver.
In every aspect, Jordan Shipley has always been underrated. Going into the draft, everybody talked about his QB teammate and now division rival Colt McCoy. People ignored that McCoy’s success relied on the downfield threat of the Ship. This year, he has been remarkable on a Bengals team that throws often. Palmer attempts 39 passes per game so don’t read into the 250 yards per game or the 19 TDs. It takes him about 22 passes to throw a touchdown. Benson gets about 19 rushes per game. This star workhose needs more like 25. He is far too talented and superior to his QB.
Palmer is also on pace for 21 picks although he is on pace for over 4,000 yards. Again, he attempts 39 passes per game so the stats are bloated. This example alone proves why NFL fans shouldn’t read too much into stats. The offensive line needs to be improved, but they do work well together on the plus side. Carlos Dunlap has been playing like a fourth rounder and not a second rounder. The jury is still out on Dunlap, but he isn’t good right now.
Domata Peko makes up for the awful play of interior lineman mate Tank Johnson. Antwan Odom needs to step up and become the 8 sack guy he was last year. This team seriously needs a pass rush. People question the corners, but the defense gives up passing yardage because QBs have all the time in the world. Ask the 2007 Pats and Tom Brady how easy it was when nobody came near him or ask Peyton the same thing. You cannot, in your fear of the dominance of a certain quarterback, play a complete zone and abort the pass rush. That’s the recipe for failure. The Bengals give their opponents all the time in the world. Ask the 2007 Giants that a strong pass rush makes all the difference in the world when facing a strong QB.
Keith Rivers, Dhani Jones, and Rey Maualuga are great leaders and tacklers. They make up what is arguably the best linebacker core in the entire NFL. Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph are the best corner duo in the league. Pacman Jones is a talented but mistake-prone nickel corner. Chris Crocker, Chinedum Ndukwe, Roy Williams, Gibril Wilson, and Reggie Nelson are five great safeties and solidify the best safety and secondary group in terms of raw talent.
The only problem is that they are not coverage safeties. All of them are hard-hitters that creep around but cannot cover a receiver to win a game. There have also been injuries in the secondary this year, but the main problem is the personnel. Mike Brown brought in talented players that don’t fit the tight coverage scheme they need. These safeties are talented, but their talents go to waste when they are not needed. The linebackers on this team are great enough. They don’t need safeties to help with the tackling duties.
Overall, this team has talented that just doesn’t fit what they need to do. They are stacked in some places and undeniably weak in other facets of the game. A strong draft that includes a big-arm quarterback could start the force of a vertical offense. The Bengals desperately need a strong downfield arm to fit with their top receiver and deep threats. They have a very strong interior run game that features Cedric Benson so a vertical offense would be intelligent. Defensively, they need to overhaul and perhaps trade their safeties for defensive lineman. They especially need depth at that position as well as a dynamic pass rusher that they sorely need.