Searching for bright spots in this 2010 season is something like finding needles in a haystack. But a few stuck out Sunday, namely defensive linemen Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins. Dunlap and Atkins put considerable heat on Saints Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees, who is known for getting the ball out of his hands rather quickly. The rookie linemen have now combined for six sacks despite only seeing a limited amount of playing time.
Previously, I had been in favor of the Bengals switching to a 3-4 defense, but with the emergence of these two guys, I think a 4-3 makes the most sense going forward (especially if Michael Johnson can convert to a strong-side backer).
Add in the steady progression of rookie receivers Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley and I think the young talent might be enticing enough to make some head coaching candidates look past the ownership of Mike Brown.
With only four games left, the rumor mill regarding potential replacements for Marvin Lewis should kick into overdrive. One name to keep an eye on is Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, who might be getting a boot after some recent struggles in Nashville. Fisher might be seeking a more high-profile job if he is ousted, but the Bengals team is not devoid of talent. Discipline maybe, but not talent.
Some coach will have a chance to win the AFC North next season.
But I’m not sure who it will be.