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Bengals To Take Next Step?



The Bengals have an outstanding defense and a young, up and coming offense. However, are they ready to take that next step to be a real contender?
The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs as a wild card team each of the last 2 seasons. The first of those was quarterback Andy Dalton's rookie year. It was a season in which the Bengals were supposed to be rebuilding with a rookie offensive coordinator in Jay Gruden, a rookie receiver in AJ Green and a rookie quarterback in Dalton. However the Bengals exceeded all expectations and made the playoffs, losing in the 1st round to the Houston Texans. Then last year the Bengals improved their record by a game, made the playoffs and again lost to the Houston Texans in the 1st round.

This year, the Bengals are the hot pick to win the AFC North and make a deep run into the playoffs. Are the Bengals ready to take that next step though? The defense has been one of the best in the NFL the past 2 season and that doesn't look to change this year. Geno Atkins starts everything with this defense. Atkins is the best defensive tackle in the NFL and he opens everything up for everyone else. Double teamed on nearly every play, he opens rush lanes up for Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry on the outside.

However the defensive ends aren't the only ones that are helped by Atkins. The secondaries job is also made much easier because the pressure the defensive line gets on the quarterback. The less time the quarterback has to allow the receivers to get open, the less time they have to be in coverage. Leon Hall is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL that few have heard of. The addition of James Harrison at strong side linebacker should also boost this defense and pass rush.

Despite how good the defense is, the success of the Bengals rides on how much the offense can improve. Most notably, how much Andy Dalton can improve. Just looking at the stats, Dalton has been pretty good in his 1st two seasons. However, a deeper look shows that there are some key places he needs to improve. One of the biggest things is his deep accuracy. Dalton doesn't have elite arm strength, but he needs to become more accurate on his deep throws. Dalton has some great deep ball weapons in AJ Green and newly added Tyler Eifert.

The other big place Dalton needs to improve is converting 3rd downs. The Bengals converted just 34% of their 3rd down attempts, which was good for 27th in the league. This is a not entirely Daltons fault, as the play calling and the players around him also factor into this. However, as the quarterback he has to take more accountability. The Bengals coaches also knew they needed to address this problem, so in the draft they added the top tight end prospect in Tyler Eifert and an explosive running back in Giovanni Bernard who excels in catching the ball out of the backfield. The Bengals will also get Mohamed Sanu back who was really coming on before he broke his foot and had to miss the end of the year.

Another thing the Bengals lacked last year was a home run threat out of the backfield. Giovanni Bernard gives them just that. He adds the ability to score a touchdown from anywhere on the field every time the ball touches his hands. The Bengals were just 18th in the NFL in rushing yards per game, yards per carry and rushing touchdowns. Bernard looks to bring all of those numbers into the top half of the NFL.

The Bengals are definitely a team on the rise and one of the "hot" picks to take that next step this season. No one knows what is going to happen as far as injuries go. Every team will have them, some worse than others. However, if the Bengals can stay healthy and if the offense, especially Andy Dalton, can improve like they did between years one and two of Daltons career, then the Bengals have a real chance to take that next step and take over as champs of the AFC North.



30 Comments

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Mooncamping
Jul 23 2013 04:10 PM

The Browns weren´t in it.  So, I appreciated the Bengals making the play-offs, even two years in a row.  If only to keep the hated Steelers out.

My studies of the AFC North rosters has revealed, that believe it or not, the Steelers and Ravens will be competing for last place in our Division.  Your starters do look more promising, but we´ll give you a run for your money.  When was the last time, two Ohio teams finished first and second?

The Browns weren´t in it. So, I appreciated the Bengals making the play-offs, even two years in a row. If only to keep the hated Steelers out.
My studies of the AFC North rosters has revealed, that believe it or not, the Steelers and Ravens will be competing for last place in our Division. Your starters do look more promising, but we´ll give you a run for your money. When was the last time, two Ohio teams finished first and second?


I respect your opinion like I do everyones. But the Browns are not going to be giving the Bengals a run for their money.

I respect your opinion like I do everyones. But the Browns are not going to be giving the Bengals a run for their money.


Weeden can't carry them, Richardson has been an injury liability, still questionable WRs, switching for a new defense that they still don't have all the pieces for. I don't see the Browns competing for anything other than a top 5 pick next year.

Weeden can't carry them, Richardson has been an injury liability, still questionable WRs, switching for a new defense that they still don't have all the pieces for. I don't see the Browns competing for anything other than a top 5 pick next year.


I agree with you. People seem to be high on the Browns this season, and I don't understand it. They are going to be what they usually are. I don't think Weeden is the answer at QB for them, Richardson obviously has a ton of talent no one questions that but his health is a big concern.
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Mooncamping
Jul 26 2013 06:03 PM

I respect your opinion like I do everyones. But the Browns are not going to be giving the Bengals a run for their money.

We´re keeping like 20 players, the rest are fake.  I bet we can take you.

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Mooncamping
Jul 26 2013 06:06 PM

Weeden can't carry them, Richardson has been an injury liability, still questionable WRs, switching for a new defense that they still don't have all the pieces for. I don't see the Browns competing for anything other than a top 5 pick next year.

Norv Turner got Brock Bolen.  I thought we could score Joe McKnight too, when he failed his conditioning test.  Then he passed the one later.

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Mooncamping
Jul 26 2013 06:07 PM

I agree with you. People seem to be high on the Browns this season, and I don't understand it. They are going to be what they usually are. I don't think Weeden is the answer at QB for them, Richardson obviously has a ton of talent no one questions that but his health is a big concern.

Brandon Weeden rocks!

Brandon Weeden rocks!


What does he rock at exactly? His play doesn't rock.

Some of his throws look like rocks.

Some of his throws look like rocks.

Haha. If he was 22/23 I would have a lot more faith of him improving moving forward. Sitting at 30, I don't have that faith.

The guy is already the age of a guy who has been in the league for like 7 seasons. His window of improvement on a big level has passed. Were not talking about a young kid here.

Browns have made a lot of the right moves to get in a good position, but they're still gonna be sitting in last place when it's all said and done. 

The guy is already the age of a guy who has been in the league for like 7 seasons. His window of improvement on a big level has passed. Were not talking about a young kid here.

 

I think the ability to improve is more about the years in the league/system than chronological years.  Regardless of his age he's still learning to play in the NFL.  The problem is if he does "get it" he has a lot less time to use it and that makes him unattractive.  It's much  more productive to develop a player who can give you 12 years than one who will give you 5.

 

Of course it's all based on having a measure of talent to begin with and the fundamental ability to play in the NFL.

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Mooncamping
Jul 28 2013 06:08 PM

I agree with you. People seem to be high on the Browns this season, and I don't understand it. They are going to be what they usually are. I don't think Weeden is the answer at QB for them, Richardson obviously has a ton of talent no one questions that but his health is a big concern.

Brandon Weeden can put a ball through a wall and probably throw feathers into bulls eyes.  As long as that He Man arm is attached to the Browns Ken, his game should be strong enough to keep people on the edge of their seats, win or lose.  I don´t know if any other AFC North QB can make that claim.

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Mooncamping
Jul 28 2013 06:09 PM

What does he rock at exactly? His play doesn't rock.

Yes it does.

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Mooncamping
Jul 28 2013 06:10 PM

The guy is already the age of a guy who has been in the league for like 7 seasons. His window of improvement on a big level has passed. Were not talking about a young kid here.

So what.  He just throws.

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Mooncamping
Jul 28 2013 06:12 PM

I think the ability to improve is more about the years in the league/system than chronological years.  Regardless of his age he's still learning to play in the NFL.  The problem is if he does "get it" he has a lot less time to use it and that makes him unattractive.  It's much  more productive to develop a player who can give you 12 years than one who will give you 5.

 

Of course it's all based on having a measure of talent to begin with and the fundamental ability to play in the NFL.

Yeah.  Maybe people still haven´t dealt with, what it means to have a baseball player.

Just because a player used to play baseball doesn't mean anything. So did Drew Henson and he was a terrible QB. Brandon Weedon isn't very good.
I feel like this guy is trolling us. Honestly.

Yes it does.


Well I'd love to hear some reasoning on how his game rocks. I haven't seen it. His numbers definitely doesn't support your claim.

So what. He just throws.


Are you serious? He just throws. I don't think he will have longer than a 5 year career. Age is a factor.
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Mooncamping
Jul 29 2013 05:18 PM

Are you serious? He just throws. I don't think he will have longer than a 5 year career. Age is a factor.

Yes serious.  He´s a pitcher, and he´s learning quarterback.  It´s not like there has been a lot of attrition on his body.  He can play ten years, easy.

Yes serious. He´s a pitcher, and he´s learning quarterback. It´s not like there has been a lot of attrition on his body. He can play ten years, easy.


Lol. Can you even support your argument? And I'm sorry but he will not play until he is 40.
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Mooncamping
Aug 03 2013 06:18 PM

Lol. Can you even support your argument? And I'm sorry but he will not play until he is 40.

Seeing as the Browns are looking to a possibility of year three, for frugality reasons, yet doubting him even onto year two, you might turn out to be right.  I believed in him.  And the argument was, no attrition, no wear and tear, save the shoulder maybe.

Seeing as the Browns are looking to a possibility of year three, for frugality reasons, yet doubting him even onto year two, you might turn out to be right. I believed in him. And the argument was, no attrition, no wear and tear, save the shoulder maybe.


Everyone is already saying he isn't looking all that good in camp. Not a good sign.

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