Category Archives: Bengals

It’s not on Primetime but it matters Bigtime

To say Sunday’s match up vs. Pittsburgh is important is an understatement; it’s the biggest game thus far this Season. Why is this game the biggest game of the the season?  Well, here’s why….it’s the first meeting between the Steelers and the Bengals, they need to get the first head to head win.  The Steelers are 1.5 games back of the Bengals for the AFC North division lead and losing puts them right back in the race.  The Steelers were red hot a few weeks back and everyone thought they were about to run away with the Division. While the Bengals got embarrassed on Thursday night vs the Browns.  Since then, the Bengals gutted out three straight road games and the Steelers lost twice when they were favorites. Now the Bengals are sitting in the drivers seat with complete control of their playoff future, what .

Winning is important, but taking wins from your Rivals is even more important:
It’s important to win games in the NFL, but equally as important is the teams in your division losing games.  The easiest way to make that happen is to do it yourself.  Here is what the division looks like as of right now.

If the Bengals can win they put the Steelers in a terrible position to make the playoffs.  At 7-6 the Steelers will probably have to win out to get the Wild Card spot.  They have to play at Atlanta, vs the Chiefs, and another game against the Bengals.  With how bad the Steelers have looked on the road and two good teams playing them after that I can’t see that happening.  Whats better than putting yourself in good playoff position?  Sticking it to the Steelers two times in three years!


The Wild Card Race is Jam Packed:
There are currently 6 teams all tied for the second wild card position.  There is no way the Bengals can afford to drop back closer to that group.  With road games at Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and a Primetime game vs Denver waiting for the Bengals, they are going to need all the space that they can get.  I don’t want a scenario where Andy and the gang have to go out and beat the Broncos on Monday night, under the lights, to keep their playoff hopes alive.  Andy’s going to have enough pressure on him for that game already, no need to add to that monkey.

The other two AFC North teams are likely to Lose:
The Dolphins are the real deal this year, Tannehill has taken a major step forward and their front four can really get after the QB. The Ravens just lost Ngata for the rest of the regular season due to a PED suspension, as Jason wrote about earlier this week. They just found out on Thursday, so they will have to adjust their gameplan in the middle of the week.  Lamar Miller has been good this season and when you lose your run stuffing NT in a 3-4 defense it hurts immensely.  Going to hot Miami with a shortened defensive line rotation will be a tough task, I think they lose this game.
The Browns are playing the Colts this week, do I really need to go into detail on why they might lose this week?  I am not saying it’s a guaranteed loss this is the NFL, but there is a good chance they lose.  So if the Bengals can win this Sunday all three other teams could get a loss in two straight weeks, giving them a 2.5 games


As the Bengals get healthy they need to capitalize on Pittsburgh’s misfortunes:
Just as the Ravens lost a key defensive lineman, so did the Steelers.  Brett Keisel was just put on IR with a torn muscle, so this defensive front will be lacking veteran leadership.  James Harrison actually strung together a few good games and he is likely out as well.  Troy Polamalu is dinged up and Ike Taylor has looked bad coming back from his arm injury.  The Steelers secondary is old, much like ours, but their secondary is really showing it of late.  The receivers need to attack this group and force them to make plays.  Hue must get Gio in space and both Gio and Hill need to get 15+ touches.  Wear down this aging and shorthanded defense and control the clock.
On the other side of the ball Marcus Gilbert has not been practicing either, if he can’t go that means Mike Adams will will be starting at tackle.  The former 2nd round pick has been a been a human turn-style most of the time during his pro career.  The Bengals need to move Dunlap and Gilberry around to confuse him and give them both better opportunities to pressure Big Ben.


Finish the season with momentum, so that they go into the playoffs with confidence:
If the Bengals can win this game they only will need to win one of their last three games to lock up the division crown. The Ravens would have to go 4-0 to pass the Bengals since the Bengals swept them and I don’t think they will do that. As I mentioned, they need to go into the playoffs with momentum, but they only have to go 1-2 in the final three games.  This takes the pressure off Andy, so we can see more GOOD Andy instead of BAD Andy.  They will then go into Cleveland with revenge and the Division title in their sites, it will motive them to play their best.  Then the games will all line up with no real pressure, but with good motivation each time.  Assuming they win the first two the will have the Broncos at home to play for the first round bye.  If they win that, the have motivation to beat Pittsburgh to keep the bye and go 5-1 in the division.  They can go into the playoffs on a seven game winning streak with a week to get healthier and ready themselves for a showdown in the Jungle to get their first playoff win in over two decades…..Do you BELIEVE????

This game may only count as one win in the standings, but it means much, much more then that.  They can secure a great spot in the division, knock out a division foe, and set the tone for the final quarter of the season.  If you want the bully to stop beating you up and taking your lunch money, you have to go punch him in the mouth and take it back! I fully expect the Bengals to run the ball right at the Steelers and do just that on Sunday.

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NFL Season Preview

As the new NFL season approaches, it’s time to put your name on the line and make predictions. The NFC is the stronger conference top to bottom this year, but the cream of the AFC is just as good as the top NFC teams. Some teams will actually approach the 13-14 win mark in the AFC, the weak East and South. The NFC West is still the top conference in football, but with all the issues with the 49ers, the Bradford injury, and the injuries/suspensions on the Cardinals defense, it might not be the case by seasons end.

x – Division winner & First round bye
y – Wild Card
z – Division winner
* – Homefield Advantage throughout

AFC North
X-Bengals 11-5 (4-2)
Y-Steelers 9-7 (3-3)
Ravens 9-7 (3-3)
Browns 5-11 (2-4)

AFC East
*X*-Patriots 12-4 (4-2)
Dolphins 6-10 (3-3)
Bills 5-11 (2-4)
NY Jets 3-13 (3-3)

AFC South
Z-Colts 10-6 (4-2)
Texans 7-9 (4-2)
Titans 5-11 (2-4)
Jaguars7-9 (2-4)

AFC West
Z-Broncos 11-5 (4-2)
Chargers 7-9 (2-4)
Y-Chiefs 9-7 (4-2)
Raiders 5-11 (2-4)

NFC North
Bears 9-7 (2-4)
Vikings 5-11 (1-5)
Y-Lions 10-6 (3-3)
Z-Packers 11-5 (5-1)

NFC East
NY Giants 7-9 (3-3)
Cowboys 5-11 (2-4)
Z-Eagles 10-6 (4-2)
Redskins 7-9 (3-3)

NFC South
Buccaneers 7-9 (3-3)
*X*-Saints 12-4 (5-1)
Panthers 6-10 (2-4)
Falcons 6-10 (2-4)

NFC West
49ers 9-7 (3-3)
X-Seahawks 12-4 (5-1)
Y-Cardinals 10-6 (2-4)
Rams 8-8 (2-4)

If you want to see the game by game picks for the season they are linked here.

Wild Card Round
NFC
6) Cardinals @ 3) Packers
5) Lions @ 4) Eagles

AFC
6) Steelers @ 3) Broncos
5) Chiefs @ 4) Colts

Divisional Round
NFC
5) Lions @ 1) Saints
3) Packers @ 2) Seahawks
AFC
3) Broncos @ 2) Bengals
4) Colts @ 1) Patriots

AFC/NFC Championship
Bengals @ Patriots
Seahawks @ Saints

Super Bowl 50
Patriots vs. Saints

World Champion
Saints

The Andy Dalton Contract; Good for both parties!

Initial Thoughts: This is the exact situation that I wanted for the Bengals this year.  I know that some people wanted to make Andy “play it out,” but I was not one of them.  This way the media will not be talking about this all season.  Andy can just go out and play football without having to answer questions about his contract after every game.  It brings some form of stability at the position so they can get AJ Green to sign long term now too.

This was the perfect deal for the Bengals, and for Dalton. Dalton doesn’t have to play a year where he makes 1 million dollars with the risk a major injury costing him big-time.  He gets essentially 25 million in guaranteed money for 2 years.  He gets 17 million in bonuses now and his same 1 million dollar season base salary, and 7 million next year. Dalton would have to play pretty bad to get cut when only making 7 million bucks next year, don’t you think?  The structure of the deal is great too, more on that later, just an example.  If Dalton takes this team one round further each year, he will win the Super Bowl in 2017 and will make 110 million over the life of the deal.  That means he will average 15.5 million per year over the 7 years of the deal.  That’s definitely less then market value for a guy that went to the playoffs the last three years.

The structure of the deal was magnificent.  If you don’t trust what Katie and Marvin are doing now, you are living under a rock.  Marvin texted AJ Green as soon as Dalton deal was done and told him to call his agent he is next.  He gets it and is a defacto Coach/GM.  Now, let’s get back to the structure of this deal for Dalton.  For those who think Dalton is not the guy, there are outs after two years.  For those that want him to “prove himself” he doesn’t make real big money unless he goes deep in the postseason.  For those that worry about needing money for AJ and Vontaze, his contact is small in the early years to leave room for other signings.  This can’t be compared to the Flacco deal because he wasn’t under contract when he signed it.  Flacco got 6 years 120 Daltons is basically 7 Years 98 million plus 17 million in escalators.  They didn’t let Dalton play out his deal and get Flaccoed like the Ravens did; Flacco’s deal is way more difficult to get out of.

I really think Dalton is a smart guy, he knows he is not Peyton Manning, he will need weapons.  He didn’t want to break the bank; he wants to keep his toys on offense and the big players on defense.  This is a great deal for both sides and I could be happier.  This will give him confidence to not play timid this year and to win in big games.  Simply put perfect deal, sign AJ, sign Tez, and go get that Lombardi Trophy!

Bengals would be dumb to cut before year two, since he would be $7mil in year two. So two years $25mil is basically guaranteed. Once he reaches a level it doesn’t regress.
Full breakdown below
No escalator/2nd Rd(WC win or Bye)/AFC Champ/SB win
2014 –> $17 million plus original $959,000 base salary.
2015 –> $7mil/$8mil/$8.5mil/$10mil
2016 –> $10.5mil/$11.5mil/$12mil/13.5mil
2017 –> $13.1mil/$14.1mil/14.6mil/16.1mil
2018 –> $13.7mil/$14.7mil/$15.2mil/$16.7mil
2019 –> $16mil/$17mil/$17.5mil/$19mil
2020 –> $17.5mil/$18.5mil/$19mil/$20.5mil
Plus $1.2 million in total workout bonuses at 200K per year.

Basically cut out the franchise tag and avoided getting Flaccoed!
No escalators
One year $18 million
Two years,$25 million
Three years, $35.7 million
Four years, $49 million
Five years, $62.9 million
Six years, $79.1 million
Seven years, $96.8 million

Cincinnati Bengals Player Preview: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict

Vontaze Burfict

Height: 6’1″

Weight: 248 lbs

Age: 23

College: Arizona State University

Hometown: Corona, CA

Experience: 3 Years

If you have turned on a Bengals game the last two years, you know who Vontaze Burfict is. He led the team in tackles for the last 2 years. In 2013 he lead the team by nearly 100 tackles, and more importantly, led the team by 62 solo tackles. He doesn’t miss in the open field, and that is extremely clutch.

Burfict finished the year with 174 tackles, 114 solo, 3 sacks and a forced fumble. He is the most important guy on the defensive side of the ball.  He is in charge of calling all the plays and getting people lined up correctly, something Maualuga struggled with.

Most astonishing with Burfict is where he was drafted, or for that matter, that he was not drafted.  He was a 5-star recruit coming out of high school on both Rival and ESPN’s rankings, and was the No.1 MLB recruit in the country.  His attitude, penalties, weight gain, poor pro day, and terrible combine left a sour taste in many teams’ mouths.

This year, we can expect that Vontaze will be back at his WLB spot barring a major plague of injuries at LB before the season.  So what can the else can King Tez do to make himself better in 2014?  It will be hard for him to add much more to his 174 tackles from 2013, but he could improve a bit in his pass coverage.

His biggest issue is still penalties, and by that I mean he needs to work on eliminating them. I do think that referees target him and he gets a few cheap ones each year that totally bogus, but some he definitely deserves. Having James Harrison to learn from last year really helped him to walk that fine line between being intimidating and being penalized.

As his linebacker coach Paul knew how to get the most out of Vontaze, this year will be no different. Paul will lean on Vontaze to be his eyes and ears on the field, consulting with him for in game adjustments.

When Thomas Howard went down with a torn ACL in Week 2 of 2013, 3 days before the next game, Guenther had to scramble. Take your best athlete and teach him a new position, how he did that is just remarkable. He took to the gym at Paul Brown Stadium with chairs to teach Tez the basics of playing WLB.

Guenther is reportedly the one that was the mastermind of most of the exotic blitzes that Zimmer ran, so expect to see Tez blitzing more this year. His instincts make him great and it is the reason that opposing offenses fear him, he finds the ball and often.

He is so important to this teams success because he makes plays that swing the momentum of the game, like the forced fumble TD versus the Browns.  That game had a chance of going sour fast with the early INTs by Dalton, but the defense quickly took the wind right out of the Browns’ sails.

Marvin Lewis has made many references to Vontaze being “special” and that he looks a lot like “another guy he has coached in the past,” referring to Ray Lewis.

My prediction 160 tackles, 105 solo, 4.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 interceptions.

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AFC/NFC North chat, would you swap Josh Gordon for Andre Johnson if you were Ray Farmer

What to do with Josh Gordon? Will he get his life straight? Is he the next Odell Thurman?

What teams in the NFC and AFC North are the best fits for Andre Johnson?

We discuss all of that, so just tune in below!

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/nationalgridironnetwork/2014/07/11/the-coldfront-with-jason-marcum

Victor Hampton can he shed his past for his Bengals future?

Victor Hampton, CB, South Carolina

Height: 5’9″

Weight: 197 lbs

Bench press reps: 20 (top marks for CB)

40 yard Dash: 4.51

Vertical leap: 33.5″

Initial Thoughts: Hampton is a talented player, but after watching the tape I can see why teams passed on him.  He had off the field issues and struggles to support the run.  When the ball is in the air he is one of the best players that I have watched at competing for the ball.  He can let his attitude effect his play.  He was benched before a game and then was not active in run support for most of the game.

He will need to work on his run support and man coverage.  In the slot he will mostly be in on passing plays, where he excels.  With the additions of Dennard and Westbrooks this year I only give Hampton a 5% chance to make the 53 man this year. I think the Bengals will want him to prove he can stay out of trouble for a year and stash him on the Practice Squad.

I give him a 100% chance to make the PS as long as he stays out of trouble. If he doesn’t clear waivers and a team scoops him up, it’s not really a loss since he was a UDFA.  He could take Terence Newman or Adam Jones’ role in 2015 if he is still with the Bengals.

Strengths:

  • Has great instincts and breaks on the ball well.
  • Is exceptional at tracking and contesting balls in the air.
  • Lives in the big moment and plays with swagger
  • Plays well in zone coverage and has good hands for deflecting passes and INTs.
  • Has lots of talent and physical ability.  Has experience in the slot and on the outside so he is versatile.
  • Has good quickness and fluidity of his hips; Had one of the fastest 3-cone times.

Weaknesses:

  • Lacks the size to effectively contribute in run support, and rarely finishes a tackle.
  • His aggressive approach to going to make tackles causes him to miss a lot of them and take bad angles.  He tries to push guys out of bounds or wait for help from his teammates.
  • Character concerns go all the way back to high school with him; he will need to keep himself out of trouble to have a shot.
  • The first sniff of a problem, and he will be sent packing instantly.
  • He is very chirpy on the field; will need to walk the line with this to avoid penalties.
  • Really needs to work on his man to man coverage, he lacks ideal top end speed.
  • His small stature makes if difficult for him to play bump and run coverage successfully, and can get caught up in blocks.

Key Plays vs Arkansas: (note: lost his starting job before this game)

1) Dances around the running back on the play, allows his teammate to make the hit and tackle (0:24)
2) Reads the QBs eyes and breaks on the pass for the INT.  Has a decent runback on after the catch as well. (0:33)
3) Working out of the slot he flies up to make the tackle and whiffs. (1:35)
4) Fails to breakdown on the play and the RB shakes him with a stutter step.  He flails at the RB to make the tackle and falls on his back unsuccessfully. (2:00)
5) He is responsible for holding the backside edge.  The runner cuts back he breaks down and just throws his pads at him and doesn’t wrap up (2:14)
6) He has a chance to stop a big play with an open field tackle, he dives at his feet and whiffs completely.  The runner gets an extra 25 yards.

2) Interception Play
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Key Plays vs Mississippi State:
1) He does a great job of sitting in his zone coverage and breaking up the throw as it arrives.  As a result his teammate is able to make an INT. (0:39)
2) The smoke screen is thrown to the WR inside of him.  He sheds the blocker and comes up to make the tackle, unfortunately he misses the tackle. (1:13)
3) He waits for the WR to make is move and makes a big hit on him over the middle. (1:53)
4) He is the deep shell in the zone coverage; he is on the seam route but sees the throw and breaks on the ball.  His quick hips allow him to make up ground and he deflects the pass before it can get to the intended WR. (2:00)
5) There is a miscommunication on the play he thinks he has the flat 1/3 but he is supposed to be deeper.  He realizes the hole in the coverage and makes an acrobatic pass breakup.  After the play he talks to his teammate and realizes it is his mistake.  He takes ownership with the coaches for the error. (3:51)
6) He works against the WR on the fade route to the corner.  He keeps within arms reach of the WR and tips the ball away. (5:45)
7) He is guarding the blocking WR on the screen play.  He sheds the block then strips the WR of the ball as he makes the tackle.  It shows his great awareness and instinct to go for the knockout blow.

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Final Thoughts:
If you just looked at the tape of Hampton, he would have been drafted.  It was his off the field antics that cost him hearing his name called.  Hampton got some bad advise from his agent.  He should have gone back to school for one more year.  That would have improved is stock in two ways.  He could have stayed out of trouble to build trust with teams, and added more quality game tape.

Regardless Hampton is in a good spot with the Bengals. He can get leadership from the likes of Newman, learn how to change his ways from Jones, and how he can dedicate to run support from Hall and Dennard. The problem with the Bengals is that they have five former 1st round picks in front of him.

If they only keep five CBs this year, which is very possibly, he has zero shot at the 53-man roster.  However, after 2015 one or more of those spots could open up.  If he is able to stay on the practice squad (PS) here, that might be the best thing for his NFL career.  He can practice and learn from some of the best at the position in the NFL.

My prediction: Hampton makes it to the final cutdown day and is offered a spot on the PS.  I’m not 100% convinced that he will clear waivers.  If he makes it to late September and has not gotten in trouble, a team with injuries at the position may claim him. 

James Wilder Jr. UDFA to Final 53?

James Wilder-RB (FSU)
Height: 6’3” Weight: 232 lbs
40 yard dash: 4.86 Vertical Leap: 32”

Initial Thoughts: He definitely has the talent to be on an NFL roster as the short yardage guy.  The problem is for him they have a vet in BJGE they can keep in that roll with added character and leadership, even if Hill would go down.  He has the look and the NFL bloodline with his dad being a former pro bowl RB with the Bucs.  I see him as an insurance policy in case they lose BGJE, Hill or both in training camp or the pre-season.  He will get his fair share of touches in the pre-season though. I assume the Bengals will have their mind made up on BGJE at that point and will be protecting Hill for the long haul by limiting his workload.  His combine measureables are not great, but are what were expected.  Chances to make the team barring no injuries in 2014 about 5%, chances for the practice squad are 100%; unless he gets arrested.  Even if they let BJGE go they will likely go with Burkhead and Peerman.  I think they see if he can keep his nose out of trouble while learning the offense in 2014.  He will be the short yardage backup to hill in 2015 and I give him a 75% of making the final 53 next year.

Strengths: He has the NFL back and looks the part. He has a strong build, and was used sparingly at FSU (only about 225 carries all time).  Possesses a great stiff arm and well balanced for a guy his size.  Stays behind his pads and absorbs contact well, does well at breaking tackles and getting YAC.  High upside possibility and low risk for the Bengals, could be a good battering ram in the future.  He does well at pushing the pile with his leg strength and drive.  With his body type and attributes he is a perfect between the trees type of runner, when he stays north/south he excels.  Averaged 7 YPC in 2013, but was stuck behind Freeman on the depth chart, who was drafted in the 4th round.

Weaknesses: Not very elusive, doesn’t really have the foot speed to string moves together.  This causes him to have to slow down to make his cuts, which allows him to get caught from behind at times.  Not a shake you guy has to use the stiff arm or absort the hit and keep his feet moving to break tackles.  Character concerns are obvious; he was arrested multiple times at FSU.  Lets his pad level get to high, running upright will cause him to get stood up in the NFL and increase his risk of injury when taking big shots to the midsection.  He has had durability issues and this is the main reason.  He didn’t get a pass thrown to him in the limited tape I had access too.  In his combine tape he chest catches almost all of the passes, when he has pads on this will certainly lead to drops.

Key plays vs Miami:
1) Sees opening in the B gap early on and disregards his lead blockers to the A and C gap shoots the gap.  The hole quickly closes in front of him since he has no blocker so eat up the LB approaching.  He lowers his pads and absorbs the contact, keeps his balance, and keep his feet churning for the TD. (0:18)
2) Good read of the play, correctly follows his blocker and has a huge opening.  Unfortunately he gets his foot tripped up by the LT and falls for a short gain.  (0:52)
3) Great sweep run, uses a stiff arm to stop the would be tackler.  He keeps his feet and dives for the pylon to get the TD. (1:15)
4) Winston fumbles the snap and he alertly notices this and runs back over to place a block for Winston and buy him some time.  (2:08)

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