The Guenther Factor: Part III – Still Secondary?
Dec 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals free safety Reggie Nelson (20) against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Bengals defeated the Ravens 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Another common remark on Jones is his age. But at 30 years old, Jones is the same age as Reggie Nelson, another true anchor of the Bengals secondary. Nelson has consistently put up bruiser numbers year after year, and plays excellent in coverage. If anything, he has continued to improve, becoming a more efficient tackler in recent years. There is no chatter nor reason to assume that Nelson is declining and therefore Jones should not be as well. Expect both to be the foundation for Cincinnati’s secondary.
Nevertheless, to return to the original question, the durability of the secondary is closely tied to Nelson’s health. Even going into training camp, there is no legitimate depth at free safety. Taylor Mays, Daniel Manning, and Shawn Williams are all bruiser / blitzer models, more fitted for strong safety play. Simply put, without Nelson, the Bengals would lack that roaming shark-like presence in the deep field.
There is strong probability that Dennard will be a starter sooner than later across from Newman, Hall, or Jones, and with a talented list second and third year players behind him, depth at corner looks solid. Nonetheless, the Bengals could be in a lot of trouble if their safeties start to get nicked up. Too late for this year, one of the priorities for the 2015 NFL Draft must be grooming a successor for Reggie Nelson.