2. A Puzzling Secondary
From week to week, it’s really hard to label this secondary. Is it old? Or bad? Or inconsistent; who is to say? After an off-season practically devoid of legitimate safeties in either the Draft or free agency, the Bengals are starting the same duo as last season, Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker, and they played top notch all game, saving several plays from become scoring efforts in open field tackles. Terrance Newman, oft considered to be a place-holder for a vacant Dre Kirkpatrick, showed up and snagged both of Manning’s two interceptions on the day, which makes him not only the first Bengals corner this year with an interception but also now leads the team in interceptions overall. Further he had four passes defended, tops for the day in that category as well. That leaves the touted Leon Hall very quiet, and the come-lately efforts of Adam Jones reduced to an ill-timed pass-interference call in the end zone in the 4th quarter.
What’s odd here is that it is almost guaranteed that the Bengals will address the strong safety position with one of their first three picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, but regardless, its unlikely that a rookie would have been able to play any better than Crocker did, given the outing. Further, Bengaldom salivates for Dre Kirkpatrick to arise and win our hearts, has a rookie ever picked Peyton Manning twice in one game, once in the red zone? Does anyone else feel like down is up and up is down after today?
How great is it that this kid not only is getting his start but had an outstanding first outing as well. Manny Lawson has been a predictable exploitation that defenses have been preparing against for four weeks now. Emmanuel Lamur was terrific in limited time, logging 3 tackles, 2 solo, and 1 pass defended. For those who are unfamiliar, the rangy 6’4” Lamur was an undrafted free agent linebacker, like Vontaze Burfict, who was signed to the practice squad at the end of the preseason. A bit of an anomaly, Lamur is a linebacker-safety hybrid, considered for play largely because of his adapt nature of dropping into coverage, the principal thing for which Lawson was exploited. Despite leading Kansas State in tackles for three seasons, two as strong safety and one as outside linebacker, Lamur continues to make huge progress and will likely usurp Dontay Moch’s roster spot permanently if this level of play continues. Great work from the rookie!