I will now be starting a 3-part series of what the AFC North did to improve this offseason (Excluding the Ravens, because we all know what we did) I will be starting with the Cincinnati Bengals, considering they were the most dominant AFC North team last year by sweeping the division 6-0. This series is based on my research on what fans on the other blogs said made them better (or worse). Thank you to my good friends over at Cincy Jungle for being so informative and helping me out. Enjoy!
(More after the "Jump"...)
So after researching fan opinions I've constructed a list on what Bengal fans believe are their most important offseason moves.
1: Bringing Back Mike Zimmer: Many fans over at Cincy Jungle said that bringing back defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was a key move this offseason. I can't really deny that this is the 1 move. I like Mike Zimmer because like I said over at Cincy Jungle, He brings the perfect balance of blitzing and coverage. It's not too aggressive to where you allow your coverage to slip up, but it's, just aggressive enough to where you can force the QB to make mistakes and force bad throws. Bringing him back to a young and talented defense was a great move by the Bengals.
2: The Signing of Antonio Bryant: This was another great move by the Bengals, because by bringing in a WR that is talented enough to be a #1 WR on most teams allows the Bengals to open up their passing game. It is going to be awfully hard to cover both OchoCinco and Antonio Bryant and still pressure the QB. Because you will need 3-4 CBs to effectively cover both of them, and then you still have to worry about the slot WR and their talented trifecta of TEs including; Jermaine Gresham, Chase Coffman, and Reggie Kelly. Overall their receiving core looks a lot like the Ravens, except we have the advantage on the slot WR, although if Jordan Shipely lives up to expectations, they will have a talented slot WR.
3: A Successful Draft: The Bengals really improved through the draft by Drafting amazingly good players. This list include Carlos Dunlap, Jermaine Gresham, Jordan Shipley, and my boy Dezmon Briscoe. I really think this draft bolstered every need for the Bengals.
4: Antwan Odom Coming Back Healthy: This guy was one hell of a pass-rusher last year before he got ousted for the season. He accounted for 8 sacks in only 6 games. Just a wild estimate, that's a third of a season. If you multiply that number by about 3. and he gets about 14-18 sacks in a full season. Add this effective pass rusher on top of a defensive line led by Domato Peko and Robert Geathers, and maybe Carlos Dunlap, and you have a one scary defensive line.
5: Adding Pac-man Jones: When Cincy Jungle threw this one at me I was thinking; "Why is this good, the guy sucked when he was in the league?" Then I heard some reports on him lighting it up in OTAs and then I realized that, he is going to be a #3 CB. The Bengals already have 2 capable CBs and adding this guy at #3 adds depth at CB, and is low-risk by not throwing him into a starting position like he was in his previous tenures with the Cowboys and Titans. I've also heard that he is a good return man.
6: Cedric Benson Coming Back Healthy: I don't really need to explain this one much. He's a solid running back and you add the ability to rush the ball on top of a scary passing offense, you're going to get good results.
That's about it, and on paper, the Bengals look a lot like the Ravens. Just look at any position except LB and CB, and you have extremely close matches and depth. I hope you enjoyed my "espionage" and have fun discussing this. (Civilly might I add, I don't want Bruce blowing the dust off of his ban-hammer today.)
2010-2011 Prediction for the Bengals: 11-5 or 12-4 and a Play-off birth