Cincinnati Bengals True or False: June Editionby Sam Schneider June 10, 2021 0 comments
Ah, OTAs. That magical time of year when every team is going to win the Super Bowl. The fan excitement is through the roof as teams start the countdown to their greatest season in history. Receivers catch balls in the open field with no defenders. Running backs make cuts around imaginary linemen and are said to have “looked explosive”. Every quarterback ‘can throw a football over them mountains’. It is no different on the banks of the Ohio River. That’s where we find ourselves for the June edition of the Cincinnati Bengals “True or False?”.
Make sure to check out the May edition here.
Cincinnati Will Claim Three 1,000-Yard Receivers?
True. This feat has only been accomplished five times in NFL history since receiving yards were recorded. The most recent entry was in 2008 when the Arizona Cardinals’ Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston each eclipsed the plateau. That year, Kurt Warner threw for 4,583 yards. As was said in the May version of this series, we are already on record that Burrow will go over the 4,500-yard mark.
The important thing to remember here is that the NFL will now employ a 17-game season. The numbers will be up across the board for multiple teams in the passing game. Of course, much of this depends on how head coach Zac Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan utilize their pass catchers. Already known is Tyler Boyd’s role in the slot. With Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins both capable of picking up yards in big chunks it should be expected that a few big games should be on tap for each.
Most importantly will be Frank Pollack’s coaching of the offensive line to give the young gunslinger time to throw. Additionally, although the defense appears improved on paper the young squad can still expect to be playing from behind on more than a few occasions. That said, each receiver would only need 58.9 yards/game to go over the total.
The Bengals Have an Easy Schedule?
False. Fans in Cincinnati are optimistic when looking at the schedule on a game-by-game basis, but the fact is that the Bengals opponents had a 2020 combined win percentage of .529, which is tied for the sixth hardest in the NFL entering 2021.
Schedule strength numbers are often a fallacy, as it’s identifying the numbers for a franchise, and not necessarily those of the players that are actually still members of the team, although the pendulum swings both ways. One team may not have the same firepower the year they had before, but another is no longer a cupcake.
Cincinnati opens with several winnable games in the first few weeks of the season. They will take on the entirety of the NFC North in their first six games. No one knows exactly what to expect as far as Green Bay is concerned, but the other three (along with a Thursday night game against Jacksonville) could provide a springboard into the season. However, the schedule gods giveth and taketh away. It only takes fans looking at the final three games of the season to see that life won’t be easy.
Of course, there’s the matter of playing in a division that sent three teams to the playoffs in 2020. None of them have truly regressed (yet), and although fans in Ohio are fond of saying that Pittsburgh is on their way down, it has not happened yet.
There Will Be a Player With Double-Digit Sacks?
False… but almost. The addition of Marion Hobby as the defensive line coach is an important one, as the Bengals will come into camp with a slew of guys capable of making the team somewhere on the line.
With that said, sacks begin in the second and third levels of the defense. The team will need a big step up from their second-year linebackers in Logan Wilson, Akeem Davis-Gaither, and Markus Bailey. They’ll also need their secondary to form a cohesive unit, and many of the cornerbacks have not stepped on the field together so there is bound to be a learning curve.
That brings it back around to the original question. The Bengals defensive line is a talented one. They have a number of guys who can challenge for double-digit sacks. Sam Hubbard (career high of 8.5 sacks in 2019) and Trey Hendrickson (13.5 in 2020) are the two most obvious candidates. Rookies Joseph Ossai and Cameron Sample have the talent to do it but are still young. Whether a Cincinnati player hits that magical number 10 is going to depend on a lot of things, including the rotation that will be used at each end of the line.
With all of that said, even if someone does not get double-digits, they are bound to have multiple guys all challenging for it by the end of the season. The squad will most certainly significantly increase their team total from 2020 (17), particularly with an added game on the schedule.
The Bengals Can Win with Their Current Tight Ends?
True. There is no flash and dash in Cincinnati at the tight end position, so Taylor and company are using the position in the more traditional sense. The bigger question here might be exactly how many players at that position will make the roster.
Currently, the Bengals have C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample, Mason Schreck, Pro Wells, Thaddeus Moss, and CJ O’Grady. Cethan Carter was lost to Miami in free agency, and although he did not play many valuable snaps at tight end, he was a special teams ace and you have to imagine that’s where the team will stash their No. 3 guy.
People in Cincinnati are excited about Moss (son of Randy Moss) because of his built-in rapport with Burrow, but the question remains whether that was a product of the LSU system. Moss has excellent hands but has a real issue gaining any sort of separation and provides virtually no help as a blocker. He signed as an undrafted free agent with the Washington Football Team but was placed on the injured reserve list and did not show enough after rehabbing the foot injury for WFT to justify retaining him.
How Does the Position Play Out?
Schreck has probably worn out his welcome in Cincinnati. There is too much competition at the position and he has shown little more than being a depth player unless he merits consideration on special teams. The same likely goes for Wells and O’Grady. At the end of the day, you have Uzomah, Sample, and everyone else.
Uzomah is the primary pass-catcher at the position and (once again) is not flashy but gets the job done. You will not convince this coaching staff otherwise. Sample has shown to be a favorite target of Burrow and does not get enough credit for his blocking efficiency both at the line and in open space. If Taylor and Callahan determine Moss can be a red zone threat, he will make the team. However, it appears more likely they’ll go the Carter route with one of the younger players that demonstrate more skill on special teams and in blocking coverage.
Bottom line, it’s a serviceable but not sexy setup, and the Bengals are in better shape at the position than quite a few other teams. They can win with who they have by sticking with utilizing each player for what he is best suited.
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