RECORDS & AWARDS
NFL PREVIEW: CINCINNATI BENGALS
July 3, 2012Richmond High School
NFL PREVIEW…KELCI BAKER
Last year: 9-7. 3rd in AFC North, lost wild-card game
Can the Bengals make back-to-back postseason appearances for the first time since the 1981 and 1982 seasons? That is the question that leads up to this coming season after a surprising season last year making the playoffs with a rookie quarterback and wide receiver. Signing seven unrestricted free agents and re-signing seven players, the Bengals have had one of the most active off-seasons in their teams’ history. With a offseason to learn their offense, the dynamic duo Andy Dalton and A.J. Green might be even better. Although, being the first rookie quarterback/wideout group to make the Pro Bowl is already something to boast about. Coming in 20th in total offense last season, made it their fourth consecutive year they finished in that ranking or lower. The Bengals averaged only 320 yards a game. For the second time in three seasons, the defense finished among the top 10, ranking seventh giving up 316 yards a game. The other glaring issues are this teams depth in areas such as linebacker and in the secondary.
With coordinator Jay Grudens West Coast style of play, Dalton became the first quarterback not drafted in the first round, started all 16 games, and still led his team to the playoffs despite only being a rookie. Tying for the AFC lead in receptions of 40 yards or longer was Green with seven. The Bengals got an upgrade at the guard position when they drafted Travelle Wharton and Kevin Zeitler in the first round of the 2012 draft. Although inconsistent when it came to running blocks, the offensive line tied for 4th in the NFL with fewest sacks allowed. The Bengals are still unsure about their backfield-by-committee approach and how successful it will be. Attempting to prove he deserves more carries is Bernard Scott who has three starts in three seasons. Also with a lot to prove is BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Green-Ellis wants to show that his game is more diverse than short-yardage and red-zone plays, the types of things he did for the New England Patriots. Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones were both drafted in an attempt to find a wide receiver to go opposite of Green but the spot is still undetermined. There is a possibility they're still looking for a veteran.
Mike Zimmer, defensive coordinator, runs a 4-3 style. Looking at the layout, the pass rush should be the team's high point. Geno Atkins led the team with 7.5 sacks and end Carlos Dunlap is expected to get more snaps this coming year. After the re-signing of Manny Lawson, the linebackers were kept in place. Rey Maualuga will have the entire offseason to get accustomed to the middle spot. After Coach Marvin Lewis called Thomas Howard the most athletic linebacker he has ever coached, the leader of the team in tackles is expected to have a big showing next season. The Bengals are still looking for someone to start in the secondary. Coming back from an Achilles injury is Leon Hall. Nate Clemens and first-round draft pick Dre Kirkpatrick will battle for the other cornerback spot. Although he needs to work on coverage, Taylor Mays will play strong safety. Cincinnati lost both Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene, but signed Derrick Harvey and Jamaal Anderson to the line.
Although he missed four field goals down the stretch, Mike Nugent set a team record of 33 goals last season under special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. Despite being inconsistent, punter Kevin Huber is receiving help from the coverage unit, one of the league's best. Brandon Tate has known to be shaky at times, like when he catches the ball inside of the ten yard line. But he did have the teams first punt return for a touchdown since 2003.
Lewis has had an amazing coaching career. After 10 seasons with the Bengals, he is the franchises winningest coach and third in league history for the most wins without a playoff victory. If he ever decides to leave, Gruden and Zimmer have been considered for head coaching openings in the offseason.
2012 Draft Recap
Ten picks in the draft in total but the prize for the Bengals was picking up G Kevin Zeitler of Wisconsin. They moved down six spots and also got a third-round pick from the New England Patriots. They were torn between David DeCastro and Zeitler at guard, but choose Zeitler for his ability to run a better block.
CB Dre Kirkpatrick. Alabama
First round. 17th pick overall.
They had no choice but to grab a young, shutdown corner right from the start of the draft
G Kevin Zeitler. Wisconsin
First round. 27th pick overall.
DT Devon Still. Penn State
Second round. 53rd pick overall.
With this pick the Bengals have another solid pass rusher even though it was surprising they picked someone for their defensive line rather early
WR Mohamed Samu. Rutgers
Third round. 83rd pick overall.
With 115 catches last season, Samu is a physical receiver
DT Brandon Thompson. Clemson
Third round. 93rd pick overall.
TE Orson Charles. Georgia
Fourth round. 116th pick overall.
Both a good receiver and a good physical blocker
CB Shaun Prater. Iowa
Fifth round. 156th pick overall.
WR Marvin Jones. California
Fifth round. 166th pick overall.
Jones can return punts as well as become a deep threat alongside A.J. Green
S George Iloka. Boise State
Fifth round. 167th pick overall.
RB Dan Herron. Ohio State
Sixth round. 191st pick overall.
His best attribute is running between the tackles
Cincinnati's 2012 Regular-Season Schedule
Week 2, Sept. 16: Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 3, Sept. 23: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. ET, FOX
Week 4, Sept. 30: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, 4:05 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 5, Oct. 7: Miami Dolphins vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 6, Oct. 14: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 7, Oct. 21: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC
Week 8, Oct. 28: BYE
Week 9, Nov. 4: Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 10, Nov. 11: New York Giants vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 11, Nov. 18: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 12, Nov. 25: Oakland Raiders vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 13, Dec. 2: Cincinnati Bengals vs. San Diego Chargers, 4:15 p.m. ET, CBS
Week 14, Dec. 9: Dallas Cowboys vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET, FOX
Week 15, Dec. 13: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Week 16, Dec. 23: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. ET CBS
Week 17, Dec. 30: Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m. ET, CBS