Cincinnati Bengals 2009 Quick Hits
Quick-hitting one-liner analysis on every Bengals starter and significant offseason move.
2008 Record: 4-11-1 (3rd AFC North)
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis (7th year)
Roster Quick View (*new veteran **rookie)
Offense (Coordinator Bob Bratkowski)
QB: Carson Palmer Eschewed surgery and let elbow heal naturally. Says he’s 100 percent. He’d better be––anything less and Cincy’s already razor-thin playoff chances become zero.
RB: Cedric Benson Shows surprising acceleration for a stout 220-pounder. Was a workhorse late last year; 3.5 ypc should increase as he improves his timing in this drive-blocking system.
Brian Leonhard* Rams forced him into awkward FB position and saw his tires fling mud. A more fluid runner than you’d guess; should help Cincy’s ailing screen-pass game.
FB: Daniel Coats TE tweener who will start here as long as Jeremi Johnson remains lazy and fat. Not a horrible option, but doesn’t move defenders enough.
WR: Chad Ochocinco If coming off a 540-yard season doesn’t shut him up, nothing will.
WR: Laveranues Coles* Courageous possession receiver who is an upgrade over T.J. Houshmandzadeh because he’s a quiet veteran leader.
WR: Chris Henry Still supremely gifted. Could officially break out after spending the offseason out of trouble and at Paul Brown Stadium.
TE: Reggie Kelly Reliable dump-off receiving option, though his primary focus remains run-blocking.
TE: Ben Utecht Injuries prevented him from fulfilling expectations as a pass-catching TE. Had better figure things out pronto––the team just drafted Chase Coffman in Round Three.
LT: Andrew Whitworth Not cut out to be a LT. Can fire out of his stance, but gets totally “out-quicked” by a defender’s second move.
LG: Nate Livings Spends far too much time picking himself up off the ground. Must improve footwork and adroitness in congested areas.
C: Kyle Cook Similar build to predecessor Eric Ghiaciuc, but Bengals think he can play with better power. Has been active for just five games as a pro since being undrafted in ’07.
RG: Bobbie Williams Only lineman starting in the same spot as a year ago. Always decent but never vicious enough.
RT: Andre Smith** A huge roll of the dice drafting him at No. 6. Amazing talent, but what about maturity? Hasn’t played RT before, probably won’t play it long-term.
6 OL: Anthony Collins Everyone thought he’d be starting. It won’t happen until he develops the strong lower-body balance to deliver a punch in pass protection.
Defense (Coordinator: Mike Zimmer)
LDE: Robert Geathers Lack of power compels him to take circuitous routes to the quarterback. This is a problem, especially given that he’s recovering from offseason microfracture surgery.
DT: Domata Peko When Bengals extended his contract, did they know he was utterly ineffective against double teams?
DT: Pat Sims Has pretty good quickness for his size. Must really hone his technique in order to prevent blockers from dictating the action so much.
RDE: Antwan Odom Has gained 30 pounds in hopes of becoming relevant against the run. That’s great, but wasn’t he brought here to rush the passer?
3 DT: Tank Johnson* Certainly has the rap sheet to be a Bengal. If he plays hard, he can offer occasional one-gap penetration off the bench.
3 DE: Frostee Rucker Will probably capture Geathers’s starting job in ’09. Moves fairly well, though he’ll move better if he learns to make patient reads.
SLB: Rashad Jeanty This analysis also applies to utility backup Brandon Johnson: impact doesn’t match high level of talent.
MLB: Dhani Jones Too smart and consistent to sit. If Bengals want to get Maualuga in here, they should consider moving this 31-year-old Renaissance Man back to the strong side.
WLB: Keith Rivers Extremely fluid athlete and sound tackler. If healthy, he’ll be a star.
4 LB: Rey Maualuga** Yeah, yeah––we know: a traditional MLB, extremely gifted but somewhat inconsistent. Now, more importantly, have you seen his Erin Andrews YouTube clip yet?
CB: Johnathan Joseph Has the agility and recovery speed to succeed in Mike Zimmer’s aggressive press coverage system. The deeper the route, the better he defends.
CB: Leon Hall Instinctive timing and physicality (especially when the ball’s in the air) compensate for somewhat stiff hips.
CB: David Jones Tendency to be reactionary makes him seem smaller than he really is.
SS: Chinedum Ndukwe Former seventh-round pick with electrifying talent. Speed and nose for the ball, both in run and pass defense, could make him the NFL’s next star safety.
FS: Chris Crocker Physicality makes him a Mike Zimmer favorite. Playing time will be determined by promising third-year pro Marvin White’s recovery from ACL surgery.
6 DB: Roy Williams* Five-time Pro Bowler was pilloried in Dallas for blowing coverages like the Pentagon blows cash. Cincy should use him as a nickel linebacker.
K: Shayne Graham Good enough to warrant the franchise tag this past offseason.
P: Kevin Huber** Fifth-round rookie who spent college and childhood in the Queen City. Expected to revive a Bengal punting game that has gone to pot.
RS: Antonio Chatman Injuries have the team leery. If he so much as stubs a toe, he’ll probably be released.
Offseason Quick Glance
RD PK (OVR) NAME POS SCHOOL
KEY PLAYERS ACQUIRED
WR Laveranues Coles: UFA Jets; $28M/4 yrs, $3M SB/$4.75M RB; 2009 cap: $7.45M.
FB Jeremi Johnson: FA; terms unknown.
DT Tank Johnson: UFA Cowboys; $620,000/1 yr.
RB Brian Leonard (trade Rams).
QB J.T. O’Sullivan: UFA 49ers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
S Roy Williams: FA Cowboys; terms unknown.
KEY PLAYERS LOST
OT Stacy Andrews: UFA Eagles, $40.98M/6 yrs, guarantees unknown.
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick: UFA Bills; $6.9M/3 yrs, guarantees unknown.
C Eric Ghiaciuc: UFA Chiefs; terms unknown.
DT Orien Harris (traded Rams).
DE Eric Henderson (released).
WR Glenn Holt: Not tendered as RFA/Vikings; 1 yr, terms unknown.
WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh: UFA Seahawks; $40M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.
S Dexter Jackson (released).
OT Levi Jones (released).
P Kyle Larson (released).
LB Corey Mays: Not tendered as RFA/Chiefs; terms unknown.
RB Chris Perry (released).
DT John Thornton
It’s the same old story with the Bengals: lots of gifted but high-risk players. Twelve months ago, this Cincy draft class would have looked like gold. The Bengals’ first four selections were all first-round prospects heading into last season. Of course, only one of those first-round prospects actually got picked in Round One. And ironically, he may be the riskiest of all. OT Andre Smith comes with serious red flags, more for maturity than character. It’s fine for players to come in needing personal growth, but how many guys have actually experienced personal growth in Cincinnati? Smith should at least be healthy, which wasn’t the case with previous LT Levi Jones.
MLB Rey Maualuga presents similar concerns as Smith. More alarming than maturity questions is his inconsistency, particularly as a tackler. His senior campaign was somewhat disappointing. Playing next to former USC teammate Keith Rivers could help Maualuga. And it’s not like he doesn’t have the physical tools to succeed.
DE Michael Johnson looks like a classic underachiever––great athlete, no production. TE Chase Coffman doesn’t have great blocking capacity, but he’s a good receiver. Staying healthy has been a bit of a challenge, though.
Possession receiver Laveranues Coles is a fine replacement for T.J. Houshmandzadeh––especially given that he comes at a much friendlier price. With a shallow, weak offensive line, Cincy will miss versatile Stacey Andrews.
Former Cowboy Roy Williams probably won’t start ahead of rising SS Chinedum Ndukwe. As for that other former Cowboy, Tank Johnson….doesn’t he just make more sense as a Bengal?
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