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2014 CINCINNATI BENGALS FOOTBALL PREVIEW

August 2, 2014
INDIANA SPORTS PAGE



2014 CINCINNATI BENGALS FOOTBALL PREVIEW

Cincinnati Bengals (1981 - Pres)

HEAD COACH: MARVIN LEWIS

RECORD WITH TEAM: 90 – 85 – 1

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: HUE JACKSON

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: PAUL GUENTHER

POINTS PER GAIN: 26.9

RUSHING: 109.7

PASSING: 258.5

TOTAL OFFENSE: 368.2

DEFENSE POINTS PER GAME: 19.1

RUSHING: 96.5

PASSING: 209.0

TOTAL DEFENSE: 305.5

INTERCEPTIONS: 20

SACKS: 43.0

TURNOVER MARGIN: +1

Cincinnati Bengals (2004 - Pres)

NFL scouts feel the Bengals have one of the most balanced rosters in the National Football League. Head coach Marvin Lewis provide stability, their scouting staff does their homework and they pick good players in the draft every year. There really is no question that Cincinnati will win again this year but will they finally take it to the next step and make it to a Super Bowl?

Cincinnati has made the playoffs in for the last five seasons producing nothing more than disappointment by coming up short in their bid to win and NFL championship. Last year the Bengals loss to San Diego at home 27-10, after winning the AFC North title. Despite all the success, Cincinnati hasn’t won a post-season game in 23 years.

This could be the season that Cincinnati takes that next step with the core of this team back for another season including quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has played well enough in the regular-season but hasn’t played well in the playoffs. Hugh Jackson is the new OC replacing Jay Gruden who will take over as Washington’s head coach. Jackson must get more out of Dalton by asking him to do less. Dalton put solid numbers on the board last year including a franchise record 4,296 yards passing and 33 touchdowns. The knock on Dalton in 2013 was his career-high 20 interceptions. Those 20 interceptions included one in at least 12 of 17 games, the playoffs and more than one interception in six games. Cincinnati signed a veteran Jason Campbell as the backup to Dalton and drafted Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron in the fifth round.

In order for Dalton to be better, Cincinnati must have a better running attack. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the feature back in 2013 rushing for 756 yards and seven scores, but averaged only 3.4 yards per carry. He is likely to be replaced in the starting lineup by Giovani Bernard, who is younger and more explosive. Bernard ran for 695 yards and five touchdowns in limited action last year and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. Rookie Jeremy Hill was drafted in the second round out of LSU and is expected to play sooner than later. Hill has excellent size at 6’1” and 233 pounds.

In order for the running game to be better the line must improve its ability to push against the D-line. Andrew Whitworth will return to left tackle after Anthony Collins signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent. Cincinnati Released C Kyle Cook, so it appears Mike Pollak will be the starter early but will be pushed by fourth-round pick Russell Bodine. Left guard Clint Boling is recovering from a torn ACL, so Pollak may take over at center while Bodine will slide in at left guard. Andre Smith will be the starter at right tackle. The biggest concern is the lack of depth so if Whitworth or Smith go down with an injury, the Bengals are in trouble.

Dalton will have some excellent receivers to throw to including AJ Green and Marvin Jones. Green draws all the attention from opposing defenses and is hoping to be better in 2014 after hitting the weight room and gaining 10 pounds of muscle in his upper body. Green caught 98 passes for 1426 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2013. Jones caught 51 passes for 712 yards and 10 scores. The knock on Green is his lack of production in the playoffs and the amount of drop passes he is had in the last two years (21) after dropping only five in 2011. Cincinnati will be solid it tight end with Jermaine Gresham as the starter and Tyler Eifert as his backup. Between them, they caught 85 passes for over 900 yards and six touchdowns.

Cincinnati’s defense ranked third in the NFL overall, fifth against the rush, fifth against the pass and tied for fifth in scoring defense giving up only 19.1 points per game. The Bengals were tied for fifth in interceptions with 20 and 10th overall in the NFL with 43 sacks. There is no doubt that the defensive line is what drives everything Cincinnati does on defense. Paul Guenther will be the new DC taking over for Mike Zimmer who is now the head coach at Minnesota. That doesn’t mean anything will change in their philosophy and the schemes will stay the same as well. For Cincinnati it is very simple, stop the run and get to the quarterback with as much pressure as possible without blitzing.

Linebacker Vontaze Burfict led the NFL in tackles last year and will be joined in the front seven by Carlos Dunlap, Domata Peko, Wallace Gilberry and Geno Atkins. Atkins is returning from a torn ACL and is a former All-Pro defensive tackle and is the biggest upgrade on this defense from a year ago. Cincinnati’s defense put up solid numbers even without Atkins in the lineup for the last two months of the year. Dunlap has tremendous size and speed and has become an every down player because of his consistency and energy. Second-year player Margus Hunt will see increased playing time in 2014 after Cincinnati lost Michael Johnson as a free agent to Tampa Bay. Robert Geathers is back after suffering lost time because of injuries.

Joining Burfict at linebacker will be Vinnie Ray at SLB and Rey Maualuga at MLB. Burfict has gone to the Pro Bowl for the last two years because he gets to the ball quickly and is one of the best tacklers in the NFL. Rey had a solid 2013 season and shows he belongs on the field after stepping in for the injured Maualuga. Emmanuel Lamur missed last year with a shoulder injury but returns to provide depth and will be used in nickel packages. Sean Porter and JK Schaffer will provide depth on the weak side and in the middle.

The secondary got better after drafting Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard. Dennard may get a chance to play immediately with Leon Hall coming back from his second Achilles tear into years. Hall will turn 30 in December and there’s so much concern about his ability to stay healthy. Adam Jones and Reggie Nelson will get a look at corner and free safety while Terence Newman will start at one corner and George Lloka is penciled in at strong safety. Jones, Nelson and Newman are all starting to show their age. Dre Kirkpatrick was Cincinnati’s number one pick in 2012, but so far has been too inconsistent to get more playing time.

Cincinnati should win the division again this year but at some point this team must play better in January. There is more than enough talent on this football team to make a deep run in the postseason but if Dalton and Green don’t produce, 2014 could be another sweet and sour season. Staying healthy will be another key after losing 10 players to injured reserve last season including eight on defense. Cincinnati lost a total of 58 games not including the postseason to key players like Hall, Atkins, Geathers and Lamur.

Cincinnati Bengals (2004 - Pres)


2014 DRAFT: cincyjungle.com

 

If we're forced to define the 2014 NFL draft for the Cincinnati Bengals in a single-word, our ideal one-word descriptions would include words like physical and toughness. Jeremy Hill, a tough down-hill runner who will make tacklers miss. Center Russell Bodine, a man that dominated the bench press at The Combine, is a powerful center that Cincinnati has needed for ages in a division with big nose tackles. First-rounder Darqueze Dennard is physical for a cornerback, a capable tackler that doesn't shy away from contact that plays well in man-coverage.

 

 

 

The Rookie of the Year

 

RB Jeremy Hill (2nd Round, Pick 55): Of the rookies drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals during the 2014 NFL draft, we could easily see Hill dominating this discussion. If, and we're prognosticating Cincinnati's intentions, the Bengals release BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Hill thus becomes the short-yardage back and touchdown producer. Hill is also a better runner, who can break tackles and launch into significant gains. Cincinnati's apparent philosophy this year was more about toughness and physicality than it was explosiveness.

 

The Starters

 

OC Russell Bodine (4th Round, Pick 111): Trevor Robinson, T.J. Johnson, and Mike Pollak. Those are the players standing in Bodine's way to becoming the team's starting center. Truth is that the Bengals not only used a fourth-round pick to acquire Bodine; they used a sixth-round pick to put themselves in position to draft him. They will give Bodine every opportunity to secure the starting gig but it may take some time. According to some predraft reports, Bodine has questionable lower-body strength and tends to rely on his upper body. Additionally he'll need to refine his technique... but he's a fourth-round rookie. You expect these things.

 

The Contributors

 

CB Darqueze Dennard (1st Round, Pick 24): This is a case where we keep first-year expectations small, but in reality Dennard is a foundation-level player. Before long he'll be a starter for the Cincinnati Bengals and he will become one of their best defensive backs. However, save for injuries, Dennard will have a hard time surpassing Leon Hall, Adam Jones and Terence Newman. What I really like -- and hope for -- is that Cincinnati has established their future at cornerback with Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick (provided he develops more and more).

 

The Developers

 

DE Will Clarke (3rd Round, Pick 88): He could just as easily become a contributor -- look we're making a predication on a season while only being aware that this player will be with the Bengals for less than a day. Clarke has the long-body that Cincinnati loves, usually a draft template that brought in Michael Jonson, Carlos Dunlap, and Margus Hunt. Johnson and Dunlap needed time to develop into the players that they'd become and Hunt is facing that transition now. Clark has the size that Cincinnati loves but we're not expecting him to hit the ground running.

 

QB A.J. McCarron (5th Round, Pick 164): McCarron has two paths laid out for him. He'll either fight-to-the-death to supplant Jason Campbell or he'll head to the practice squad. I'm not sure if replacing Campbell will be easy -- the Bengals want a veteran backup quarterback and Hue Jackson has history with Campbell. If they decide to place him on the team's practice squad, then we should expect Cincinnati to protect him somewhat -- not exposing him in preseason games (aka, reducing the amount of information about him so another team doesn't show interest).

 

The Long Shots

 

LB Marquis Flowers (6th Round, Pick 212): Flowers doesn't appeal to me as a long-term player; rather a late-round selection that will be used to develop competition at the bottom of Cincinnati's linebacker roster. That's not to say that he couldn't develop and become a contributor. At best, he'll play special teams this year and maybe, he'll develop upward.

 

WR James Wright (7th Round, Pick 239): Feels like a wasted pick but has enough athleticism that piques Cincinnati's interest... enough so that they'll try to find a role for him (kind of like Onterio McCalebb). However, we see more Bennie Brazell (former LSU wide receiver that the Bengals drafted in the seventh round in '06) than special teams. Camp body.

Cincinnati Bengals (1997 - Pres)


2014 schedule:

BENGALS 2014 SCHEDULE
Day Date Opponent Time Location
PRESEASON
Thu. 8/7 at Kansas City 8:00 p.m. Arrowhead Stadium
Sat. 8/16 NY JETS 7:00 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium
Sun. 8/24
at Arizona 8:00 p.m. on NBC University of Phoenix Stadium
Thu. 8/28 INDIANAPOLIS 7:00 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium
REGULAR SEASON
Sun. 9/7 at Baltimore 1 p.m. M&T Bank Stadiujm
Sun. 9/14 ATLANTA 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium
Sun. 9/21 TENNESSEE 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium
--BYE--
Sun. 10/5 at New England 8:30 p.m. (NBC) Gillete Stadium
Sun. 10/12 CAROLINA 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium
Sun. 10/19 at Indianapolis 1 p.m. Lucas Oil Stadium
Sun. 10/26 BALTIMORE 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium
Sun. 11/2 JACKSONVILLE 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium
Thu. 11/6 CLEVELAND 8:25 p.m. (NFLNetwork) Paul Brown Stadium
Sun. 11/16 at New Orleans 1 p.m. Mercedes-Benz Superdome
Sun. 11/23 at Houston 1 p.m. NRG Stadium
Sun. 11/30 at Tampa Bay 1 p.m. Raymond James Stadium
Sun. 12/7 PITTSBURGH 1 p.m. Paul Brown Stadium
Sun. 12/14 at Cleveland 1 p.m. FirstEnergy Stadium
Mon 12/22 DENVER 8:30 p.m. (ESPN) Paul Brown Stadium
Sun. 12/28 at Pittsburgh 1 p.m. Heinz Field

Cincinnati Bengals (2004 - Pres)

2014 ROSTER

 

Active

 

#NamePos.Ht.Wt.AgeExp.College
97 Atkins, Geno DT 6-1 303 26 5 Georgia
25 Bernard, Giovani HB 5-9 208 22 2 North Carolina
90 Bilukidi, Christo DT 6-5 320 24 3 Georgia State
63 Black, Larry DT 6-2 315 24 2 Indiana
61 Bodine, Russell C 6-3 306 22 R North Carolina
65 Boling, Clint G 6-5 310 25 4 Georgia
83 Brock, Kevin TE 6-5 264 28 2 Rutgers
79 Burden, Chandler G 6-4 300 24 1 Kentucky
55 Burfict, Vontaze LB 6-1 248 23 3 Arizona State
33 Burkhead, Rex HB 5-10 215 24 2 Nebraska
17 Campbell, Jason QB 6-5 235 32 10 Auburn
80 Charles, Orson H-B 6-3 254 23 3 Georgia
93 Clarke, Will DE 6-6 271 23 R West Virginia
13 Collins, Jasper WR 5-11 188 22 1 Mount Union
14 Dalton, Andy QB 6-2 220 26 4 Texas Christian
48 Davidson, James LB 6-3 242 23 R Texas-El Paso
21 Dennard, Darqueze CB 5-11 202 22 R Michigan State
51 DiManche, Jayson LB 6-1 244 23 2 Southern Illinois
96 Dunlap, Carlos DE 6-6 280 25 5 Florida
85 Eifert, Tyler TE 6-6 250 23 2 Notre Dame
53 Flowers, Marquis LB 6-3 240 22 R Arizona
64 France, Dan OT 6-5 315 23 R Michigan State
91 Geathers, Robert DE 6-3 286 30 11 Georgia
95 Gilberry, Wallace DE 6-2 275 29 7 Alabama
42 Green-Ellis, BenJarvus HB 5-11 222 29 7 Mississippi
18 Green, A.J. WR 6-4 207 26 4 Georgia
84 Gresham, Jermaine TE 6-5 260 26 5 Oklahoma
29 Hall, Leon CB 5-11 195 29 8 Michigan
87 Hamilton, Cobi WR 6-2 197 23 1 Arkansas
44 Hampton, Victor CB 5-9 197 22 R South Carolina
46 Harris, Clark LS 6-5 245 30 6 Rutgers
72 Hawkinson, Tanner OT 6-5 300 24 2 Kansas
89 Hewitt, Ryan H-B 6-4 254 23 R Stanford
32 Hill, Jeremy HB 6-1 238 21 R Louisiana State
73 Hopkins, Trey G 6-4 310 22 R Texas
10 Huber, Kevin P 6-1 214 29 6 Cincinnati
99 Hunt, Margus DE 6-8 290 27 2 Southern Methodist
43 Iloka, George S 6-4 220 24 3 Boise State
16 Johnson, Jeremy WR 5-11 181 24 R Southern Methodist
60 Johnson, T.J. G 6-4 310 24 1 South Carolina
49 Joiner, Brandon LB 6-3 250 25 2 Arkansas State
24 Jones, Adam CB 5-10 186 30 8 West Virginia
82 Jones, Marvin WR 6-2 198 24 3 California
76-d King, David DT 6-4 300 24 1 Oklahoma
27 Kirkpatrick, Dre CB 6-2 190 24 3 Alabama
59 Lamur, Emmanuel LB 6-4 240 25 3 Kansas State
37 Lewis-Harris, Chris CB 5-10 186 25 2 Tennessee-Chattanooga
41 Lewis, Isaiah S 5-10 205 22 R Michigan State
15 Lockett, Colin WR 6-0 188 23 R San Diego
38 Manning, Danieal S 5-11 212 31 9 Abilene Christian
58 Maualuga, Rey LB 6-2 255 27 6 Southern California
26 Mays, Taylor S 6-3 225 26 5 Southern California
39 McCalebb, Onterio CB 5-10 175 24 1 Auburn
5 McCarron, AJ QB 6-3 220 23 R Alabama
69 Minter, Zach DT 6-1 307 23 2 Montana State
92 Moch, Dontay LB 6-2 257 26 3 Nevada
70 Montgomery, Sam DE 6-3 270 24 2 Louisiana State
20 Nelson, Reggie S 5-11 210 30 8 Florida
74 Newhouse, Marshall OT 6-4 328 25 5 Texas Christian
23 Newman, Terence CB 5-10 197 35 12 Kansas State
2 Nugent, Mike K 5-10 190 32 10 Ohio State
30 Peerman, Cedric HB 5-10 214 27 5 Virginia
94 Peko, Domata DT 6-3 322 29 9 Michigan State
67 Pollak, Mike G 6-3 300 29 7 Arizona State
56 Porter, Sean LB 6-1 242 23 2 Texas A&M
57 Rey, Vincent LB 6-0 255 26 4 Duke
66 Robinson, Trevor C 6-5 300 24 3 Notre Dame
73-d Ross, LaKendrick DT 6-4 350 21 R Virginia of Lynchburg
12 Sanu, Mohamed WR 6-2 210 24 3 Rutgers
11 Sanzenbacher, Dane WR 5-11 184 25 4 Ohio State
50 Schaffer, J.K. LB 6-0 232 24 2 Cincinnati
8 Scott, Matt QB 6-2 210 23 1 Arizona
3 Sharp, Quinn K/P 6-1 205 24 1 Oklahoma State
81 Smith, Alex TE 6-4 250 32 10 Stanford
71 Smith, Andre OT 6-4 340 27 6 Alabama
28 Stanford, R.J. CB 5-10 187 26 4 Utah
75 Still, Devon DT 6-5 310 25 3 Penn State
76-o Svitek, Will OT 6-6 305 32 9 Stanford
19 Tate, Brandon WR 6-1 195 26 6 North Carolina
98 Thompson, Brandon DT 6-2 315 24 3 Clemson
4 Vernon, Conner WR 6-0 196 23 1 Duke
22 Westbrooks, Lavelle CB 6-0 185 22 R Georgia Southern
88 Whalen, Ryan WR 6-1 200 25 4 Stanford
35 Whitlock, Nikita FB 5-10 248 23 R Wake Forest
77 Whitworth, Andrew OT 6-7 330 32 9 Louisiana State
34 Wilder, James Jr. HB 6-1 232 22 R Florida State
36 Williams, Shawn S 6-0 216 23 2 Georgia
86 Wright, James WR 6-1 201 22 R Louisiana State
68 Zeitler, Kevin G 6-4 315 24 3 Wisconsin


 


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