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Chris Crocker’s Return: The Bengals Gain a “Coach on the Field” and Versatile Defender

shawnbmaher
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Jan 1, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens tight end Ed Dickson (84) catches a pass in front of the Cincinnati Bengals strong safety Chris Crocker (42) during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

With a secondary with issues ranging from health to inexperience in Zimmer’s system , then it really begins to make sense why Marvin Lewis stayed in contact with Crocker as he traversed the road to recovery.

Granted, the defense this year has had no help from a linebacking corps that lost Thomas Howard to injury for the year and lost Rey Maualuga to new heights of ineptitude, but Crocker’s headsy play and thumping presence underneath will still help a defense giving up 5.8 rushing YPA, ranked last in the league. His 3.5 sacks in 2011 and 2 in 2010 reflect his savvy deployment of Zimmer’s safety blitzes.

The defense allowed only 21 passing touchdowns in 2010 and 2011 each, ranked 7th and 9th, respectively, but through three games has already given up five. Last season, the rush defense was almost two YPA stouter, giving up a 8th-ranked 3.9 YPA.

Sure, Crocker is no magical elixir to cure the woes that the Bengals’ defense is experiencing. But, alongside a blossoming offense, Crocker will provide leadership and a versatility that could replicate the benefits that signing both a cornerback and safety would provide. Clements can return to focusing on cornerback, as he began the season as something of a Crocker in reverse, sliding to the strong safety in nickel packages.

The Bengals’ defense is ranked 30th in points allowed and 29th in yards. Embracing the return of a man who led the Bengals’ defense to greater heights makes all the sense in the world, especially at a point where the secondary is looking more like a triage unit. On Sunday, do not be surprised if the man bearing the double-threes is a major factor mere days after returning to don the stripes once again.

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