The Bengals have always been considered the bumbling nice guys. But, this year’s version of the Orange & Black will push the envelope.
The Cincincinnati Bengals went into the offseason with a problem that needed to be solved. Two integral pieces of their offensive line were set to swim in the free agent pool. Eventually, the bell tolled for Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler. That meant there would have to be a few moves made to fix the O-line. The draft didn’t provide high-caliber choices and veteran players would surely break the bank. So, what’s next?
The Bengals calmly addressed the problem by throwing a ton of speed at it. Instead of going for the best available player, Marvin Lewis & Co. surprised fans and analysts with the John Ross snag. Okay, he was the best player there. But, the Bengals were also making a statement. When they picked up Joe Mixon and claimed the evil eye from every prude in America, it was apparent what was happening. It was about attitude. That’s something the Bengals haven’t had since Chad Johnson was hauling in passes.
Don’t mistake the new direction as a bad thing. This newfound angle is in its infancy. It has to be nurtured and allowed to take root in both offense and defense. Each unit will have the chance to be as brash as they can be. But, the end result won’t be rude. The 2017 version of the Bengals will have the confidence it lacked in seasons past. That will be due to rookies who have exceptional skills and are ready to make some noise in the NFL.
The Bad Boys On The Block
Defensively, the Bengals will be a work of art. Vontaze Burfict is in the best shape of his career and ready to wreak havoc on the AFC North. The youngsters looked impressive in OTAs and minicamp. Carl Lawson will undoubtedly be the Dr. Jekyll to Burfict’s Hyde. Lawson is learning quickly and gave the offensive linemen fits during practices.
If you’re still pouting over the release of Domata Peko, get over it. Andrew Billings will fill his shoes and make anyone holding a grudge seem insane. The Bengals have enough depth along the D-line to give opposing QBs nightmares.
Then, there’s that kid named William Jackson III. I’m not claiming that he’ll be the Bengals answer to Denver’s No Fly Zone, but he’ll make an early splash when handed playing time. Need more names dropped? Nick Vigil has been coming along nicely and is another brainiac for defense. Kevin Minter wasn’t just snatched off the market to sit around. If anyone comes up lacking, he’ll be tossed into the mix.
The possibilities are endless. But, the Bengals defense will have the attitude and speed to turn heads.
Is this the most talented group of defenders the Bengals have had in some time?
"“Probably so. I would think so,” DC Paul Guenther said, per Bengals.com. “We’ve got fast guys that can play multiple spots and that’s kind of an offshoot of how we install the defense. I can tell a guy to go to the spot as a linebacker or DB and he knows what to do. We really couldn’t do that last year. I’d have to say this is the most talent we’ve had since I’ve been doing it.”"
The Big “Oh”
If you can remember those Toyota commercials with people jumping in the air, that’s what the Bengals will bring to the shores of the Nati. They’ll be turning defenses upside down with the speed factor. Ross and Josh Malone on the field with A.J. Green in a trips formation? Excuse me for slobbering.
Let’s really go out on a limb. Andy Dalton will be back in 2015 form. He’ll be in year two under Ken Zampese. In his second year under Hue Jackson, Dalton came to life.
The offensive line will be fine. Andre Smith will have an adjustment period and then become what the Bengals needed. So far, O-line coach Paul Alexander feels Smith will be fine. Cedric Ogbuehi has put in overtime also.
Joe Mixon is quietly everyone’s pick to get more than a few heads snapping both on the field and off. The Bengals’ offense will definitely be capable of scoring like it did in 2015, ‘13 and the playoff year of 2005. With a backfield composed of Jeremy Hill, Stanley Williams and a soon-to-be-healthy Giovani Bernard, the running game will come around.
So, what’s the Bengals’ new identity? If you’ve seen From Dusk Till Dawn, the answer Jacob gives Seth in the bar is a good indicator. Just use football terms.
This new direction and identity should be interesting.