The Cincinnati Bengals hit the playoffs last season hopes are high that they’ll post back to back appearances and make this a regular occasion. There’s a good chance they can make that happen. Quarterback Andy Dalton showed surprising poise in his rookie year and his continued development along with A.J. Green is a sign of good things to come. But now that’s he’s got some talent to work with, Head Coach Marvin Lewis has to make hay while the sun shines. He’s been toiling away for awhile now and if the Bengals don’t make significant progress in 2012 Lewis could be handed his walking papers.
Progress is being made along those lines. Cincinnati signed Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, offering the Bengals a chance at improving their running game. It would be awfully nice to field a few more guys who are a threat to catch the ball though. Green is the focus of every secondary and Tight End Jermaine Gresham, though an able player in the passing game, isn’t explosive enough to create big plays. The return of Jordan Shipley will help and management brought in a pair of young receivers via the draft. Some changes along the offensive line have to be worked out but the Bengals offense is good enough to win games.
Keeping opposing offenses in check is the next step for the Cincinnati Bengals. Their defensive line is deep but not immensely talented. But with plenty of interchangeable pieces the Bengals tend to wear opponents out over the course of a game. Linebacker is solid with Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard manning the outside positions and Ray Maualaga on the inside. What’s going to happen in the secondary could be crucial. The draft yielded Dre Kirkpatrick out of Alabama to play corner and he could be pressed into service quickly. If Leon Hall is recovered from injury, the positions are set. Reggie Nelson at safety is a proven player.
Bengals ticket holders got a playoff spot as a reward for their endurance in 2011. Bu they didn’t get an overpowering team. Cincinnati struggled against better teams and eked out wins over lesser talent to finish at 9-7. If they want to end the trend of one and done they need to step up in 2012.Eric Drouant