The Cincinnati Bengals came into the 2012 season with a lot of promise and some high expectations from fans, the media, and the team itself. Now, after a good start, the team has lost four straight, and with a difficult schedule ahead, is all but out of the mix for the postseason. As the halfway point in the season has come and gone, fans have mostly resigned themselves to another disappointing year, and are looking ahead to 2013. Since there are still eight games remaining this season, it seems like a good time for reflection, both on the growth of young players, and the offseason moves made before the season began. Here are my mid-season thoughts on the Bengals by positional group.
Andy Dalton carried more expectations into this year than anyone. After the trade of Carson Palmer, and a solid rookie season, fans were ready for him to step into the role of franchise QB. However, it hasn’t been that easy. Dalton, with defenses having a year’s worth of tape on him, have been able to slow his rise to stardom. He has been solid, but is still having growing pains as well. His pocket presence has been questionable, with him alternating between leaving too soon, and holding the ball too long, which has led to sacks and turnovers. He’s thrown an interception in every game so far. He needs help from a better running game and more consistency from his receivers, which will open the field up and make the play-action more viable. He’s got the intelligence and skills to thrive, but still needs time.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was acquired in the offseason to be the workhorse in the backfield. His ability to drive the pile and get short yards, as well as his lack of fumbling made him a solid, though unspectacular choice. He has not had a great season in stripes, including more than one fumble. He has been good at pushing would-be tacklers forward, avoiding losses, but his ypc average is low, as he doesn’t have breakaway ability. Brian Leonard, as usual, has made a few nice plays, but isn’t an every down back. Bernard Scott‘s production has nonexistent due to injury. The running game has been a large reason for the struggles of the offense. Defenses don’t have to commit anything extra to stop it, so they aren’t fooled by play fakes, and can focus on the passing game.