Bengals Account Well for Roster Losses
Sep 14, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Terence Newman (23) against the Atlanta Falcons at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 24-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
This offseason the Cincinnati Bengals were blessed to have a limited number of free agents to account for. Clint Boling, Jermaine Gresham and Rey Maualuga led the class. Yet, the Bengals still needed to account for these starters amongst several other free agents who acted in more complimentary roles.
With this in mind, Cole Schultz of Pro Football Focus has been composing a series called “Snaps Lost.” It’s a very cool series that highlights each team’s roster losses and how many relative snaps a team must account for. Schultz also offers a brief synopsis of each team’s situation on offense and defense, and any potential replacement plan a team has in place.
In his piece specific to Cincinnati, Schultz identifies Gresham, Mike Pollak and Marshall Newhouse as the biggest losses on offense (again, based on snaps played). His FTE statistic brings much light to perplexed fans who’ve been wondering why the team would select two offensive linemen early in the draft. Ogbuehi was simply a gamble they were confident in taking. And when it comes to analyzing injuries, one should be confident in deferring to the team for such expertise. Cincinnati has dealt with a rash of injuries lately and has successfully helped many of these players get back to the field.
Jake Fisher should do plenty to replace the inept Marshall Newhouse while he’ll also provide depth at guard if Kevin Zeitler or Clint Boling suffers an injury; hence, helping to account for the loss of Pollak. With that said, pundits should remember the Bengals still have the promising Trey Hopkins, a player many forget to consider. It could very well be he who is the new Pollak of sorts, and the team also signed a promising undrafted free agent in Chris Jasperse (a player who Pro Football Focus seems to enjoy). Cincinnati also has been training center T.J. Johnson for the past couple of seasons. He could help at guard also.
This statistic should also bring to light why the Bengals selected two tight ends in the draft. For good or bad, Gresham played 900 snaps in 2014. Replacing that number of snaps would be difficult for anyone, and an injury prone Tyler Eifert doesn’t make things any easier. Tyler Kroft should help Cincinnati significantly when blocking and C.J. Uzomah is looking like a potential threat in the passing game. Together, they’ll give the Bengals options to utilize, if necessary, in the coming season.
On defense, Schultz identifies Terence Newman and Robert Geathers as the most significant losses. Schultz does a nice job of briefly explaining the situation in the secondary. It is Dre Kirkpatrick who likely ends up taking over the spot vacated by Newman.
May 26, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) during OTAs at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Kirkpatrick has been identified by many as a “breakout player” heading into 2015 after he ended his 2014 campaign in impressive fashion. But Darqueze Dennard is playing well also and could push Kirkpatrick for the job. Also worth noting, this is all assuming that Adam Jones doesn’t earn the position himself, though it would be better if the team employed him as their primary returner on special teams and decreased his snaps on defense.
As for Robert Geathers’ 604 snaps, Schultz labels Michael Johnson as the primary replacement, but this falls short of explaining the entirety of the situation. Johnson will replace Wallace Gilberry as the team’s defensive end and help move Carlos Dunlap back to the left side of the line. Gaining a true right end who can set the edge for this team is huge.
Meanwhile, the domino effect is that Gilberry returns to the rotational role he thrived within. Currently, the burgeoning Will Clarke (second-year end out of West Virginia) looks to be leading the competition for the back-up right end role. The Bengals also possess third-year player Margus Hunt, who has struggled to stay healthy recently, and drafted defensive lineman Marcus Hardison who will act as a defensive tackle, but in a pinch could play defensive end after playing there primarily while at Arizona State.
It seems clear that the Bengals have prepared well in recent years to account for the losses they faced this offseason and some they’ll face in the coming year. They’ve drafted well, which has helped them gain consistency after qualifying for the playoffs the last four years. The next benchmark will be finding out if the team has done well enough developing their talent. If they have, then the team should be in position to get over the playoff hump in 2015.