The Cincinnati Bengals started the youth movement during the offseason when they decided to let veterans walk and start inexperienced rookies. They followed that up by drafting productive players and inserting them into the lineup. It’s safe the say the uncharacteristic Marvin Lewis move has paid off.
On the defensive side, the Bengals plugged Carl Lawson in the lineup and now he leads all rookie pass rushers in sacks. Second-year linebacker, Nick Vigil, has become a welcomed surprise, as he leads the team in tackles.
Hey, even Clayton Fejedelem has been playing solid snaps and is tied for first on the team in interceptions. The youth movement has been working for the Cincinnati Bengals, but there’s one other position in the Bengals secondary that needs to be swapped out in favor of the youth.
At corner, Dre Kirkpatrick is the man. He has really grown into a solid cornerback and has proven worthy of his first-round draft pick. However, across the field at RCB is Adam Jones. Once one of the most beloved Bengals on the team, he’s now 34-years-old and looks past his prime.
Jones started the season off suspended for one game, but when he came back in Week 2, Jones got beat like a drum against Houston. The following week he blew coverage and allowed Geronimo Allison to score the game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Green Bay Packers. Repeated pass interference penalties and most recently, an injury that kept him from returning to the Buffalo Bills game, Jones is not playing like he used to. Honestly, he’s not playing better than the two youngsters behind him.
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Darqueze Dennard and William Jackson III have been balling. Both have been playing exceptionally well and should be starting over Adam Jones. Dennard has made great plays all season long and even though he has made a few mistakes, he has shown that he is still that lockup corner from Michigan State.
Jackson, first of all, picked off Aaron Rodgers. That alone deserves congratulations. However, Jackson also took the interception to the house and has played very well during his time in games.
Heading into Steelers Week, Dennard or Jackson should get the nod over Jones. They’re just playing better at the end of the day. The Steelers usually get the best of Cincinnati. But, with Antonio Brown throwing temper tantrums and Big Ben coming off a five-interception performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars, I want the best corners in the game to take advantage of the Steelers’ mistakes.
I understand Marvin Lewis‘ love to play veterans over youth, but at some point enough is enough. Dennard and Jackson are playing better than Jones. Start one of them. The AFC North is struggling this season and a win over the Steelers could put the Bengals in position to win the divisional crown and make a playoff run. Dennard and Jackson give the Bengals a better chance than Adam Jones does at this moment.