Failure to Vaccinate
Prevention is the first step in the war against sickness, and the same can be said for building a football team. Going into the 2012 offseason, the Bengals had a lot of cap room, and a lot of talent, so fans hoped for a few nice additions at trouble spots to put them over the top. A replacement for the departed Chris Crocker and an upgrade at cornerback were needed in the secondary, and depth to replace Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene were targets. The Bengals added some line depth, signing Jamaal Anderson, and drafted two more linemen, but didn’t get the pass rusher that most fans wanted. In addition, they looked within for a replacement for Crocker, tabbing Taylor Mays mostly. They also added to the CB position, but only with the aging Terance Newman, a rookie in Kirkpatrick, and Jason Allen, a nice rotational guy, but still didn’t add a guy who could step in right away (I wanted Tracy Porter badly). If the team had spent a little extra money to upgrade the pass rush and the secondary, the defense might not be in such poor shape.
Nothing can decimate a team faster than the injury bug. Carlos Dunlap missed the first two games, Kirkpatrick has yet to play a down, and Thomas Howard and Jamaal Anderson are lost for the season. Leon Hall might not be 100% yet, and other guys have had little injuries that have limited them so far as well. The team has had to rely on backups and young guys to play longer minutes, which has certainly not helped. The defensive line is getting almost no pass rush, while the secondary, manned by aging veterans, has struggled with speedy WRs beating them deep. The linebackers have also had trouble in coverage, with opposing tight ends gashing them for yards and key 3rd down conversions. Injury has hit the team hard, and the defense has suffered for it.