The 2007 Bengals were as close to an average team as it gets, 7 wins, gave up 5 more points than the scored and registered a -0.1% DVOA. The 08 Bengals were suppose to build on that.
|NFL.com Stats||Record||Scoring Off.
||Rush Off.||Scoring Def.||Total Def.||Pass Def.||Rush Def.|
|Football Outsiders||Pythag Wins
||Pass Def.||Rush Def.
The defense actually did, giving up 3 TDs less against a much more powerful lineup of offenses and rising from 24th in 15th in DVOA. They were able to stop the run reasonably well (7th in Run D), but despite two big money DEs, Cincy's pass rush topped only the historically bad Cheifs, recording just 17 sacks (league average was 33). Given the performance of the pass rush a 21st ranked pass D is a pretty impressive performance from the back 7.
On the bright side the massive regression on offense is a bit easier to explain and correct. The Bengals dropped from the 6th ranked offense, to the 29th. The passing game dropped from 6th to 27th, as franchise QB Carson Palmer threw only 14 passes this season. Career backup Ryan Fitzpatrick with 135 attempts (all in 2005) in his career took over and passed the ball 372 times with disastrous results. By Football Outsiders stats only Marc Bulger performed worse among QBs to get 250+ attempts. Let's not dump all the blame on Fitzpatrick though. The Bengals allowed the most sacks in the league (51), FO's opponent and situational adjustments soften the ranking to 27th, but the pass pro was terrible. The re-addition of Palmer will go a long ways, but the pass pro needs to be addressed.
The run game is a bit more concerning. In 2007 a Kenny Watson/broken down Rudi Johnson combo made for a mediocre run game (with Watson the far more effective of the pair. In 2008 Watson sat behind Chris Perry and new addition Cedric Benson. Perry was historically bad, averaging under 3 YPC and fumbling 5 times in just 103 carries. Benson continued to be the bust he was in Chicago and was only a slight upgrade from 07 Rudi Johnson. The pair led the Bengals run game to the very bottom of the league. The backs maybe not be totally to blame though (well Perry's fumbles are certainly his fault) The Bengals OL ranked dead last in FOs adjusted line yards.
The advanced stats, the simple stats and the eyeball test come to the same conclusion, that OL was bad, awful, terrible, not at all good at their jobs. The pass rush is also lacking, but Cincy Jungle head writer Kirkendall has discussed why the Bengals are unlikely to invest heavily in another DE.
The Bengals problems start on the lines, but they may be able to go without an elite tackle by sliding young guard Andrew Whitworth outside and promoting promising backup Anthony Collins to a starting tackle spot. If the Bengals feel that's a viable option at the tackles they could add another piece to their improving defense or replace Cedric Benson with a top rookie RB.
Bengals head writer Kirkendall gave a game ready center as a major need. Likely one, maybe both of the classes top centers (Alex Mack and Max Unger) could be available with the Bengals second round pick.
The Bengals will need to bolter the offensive line that killed any chance of an effective offense under Fitzpatrick, but may use the #6 pick on a defensive star.
Favorite picks for the Bengals at #6 are defenders MLB Rey Maualuga, DE Brian Orakpo and DT B.J. Raji, offensive darkhorse pick RB Chris Wells and tackles Micheal Oher, Andre Smith and Mocking Dan's pick in his first mock draft...
|6. Cincinnati Bengals|
||Eugene Monroe, OT, Virginia: After allowing 51 sacks in 2008, the Bengals are desperate for help along the offensive line. Even if left tackle Levi Brown and right tackle Stacy Andrews are healthy, Monroe has the ability to start ahead either of them.|