Looking back on the season the Bengals had last year was really like watching a movie without the happy ending. You had tragedy, as their defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer, lost his wife to cancer and when Chris Henry died after a tragic accident. There was drama, when you watched the Bengals fight it out in the NFC North and took the division title. The comedy, of course, was supplied by Ochocinco. As you watched the Bengals final regular season game on Sunday Night Football, you could tell that the season was slipping away. That brings us to the 2010 season. Will it be a sequel? The Bengals have made some moves to improve, so let's take a look.
Cincinnati cut ties with some players that played their role but didn't contribute a whole lot to the team. WR Laveranues Coles was signed to replace TJ Houshmandzadeh. He didn't quite live up to the expectations that the Bengals had for him. His biggest game was six catches for 72 yards, which tells you a lot. With Coles across from him, Ochocinco got paid more than the usual attention and that affected his game. K Shayne Graham had been the Bengals kicker for the last seven years. The decrease in his field goal percentage for the last three seasons and his two missed field goals in the Wild Card playoff game caused the Bengals to let him go. Finally, Cincinnati brought RB Larry Johnson in for the last seven games, to give them some depth and perhaps to bolster their craziness. He played his part, rushing for 107 yards in one of those games and was moved out at the end of the season.
The Bengals went out and got someone with as big an ego (probably bigger), than Ochocinco. WR Terrell Owens was signed just before the Bengals entered training camp. TO did not show much in Buffalo last year but much of it can be blamed on the poor offensive game plan and lack of a decent quarterback. With Ochocinco on one side and TO on the other, there should be some fireworks. Hopefully, it's all on the stat sheet and not in the papers or the locker room. TO should have about 85 receptions for 1100 yards and 8 TD's. The original plan was to have another former #1 receiver across from Ochocinco, Antonio Bryant. He reinvented himself in Tampa and looked to be a solid addition. The problem has been he has missed all of training camp since the first day. There are rumors that he will be released shortly. If they keep him and he steps in as their third receiver at some point this season, look for 20 receptions for 300 yards and a TD.
K Mike Nugent was signed to compete for the kicking job. He hasn't played much the past few seasons and no one has established themselves as the winner in the competition just yet. If he does win it, expect 22-27 field goals and 23-24 extra points for 89 points.The Bengals also picked up RB Cedric Peerman. He'll probably end up on special teams or the practice squad.
Cincinnati also had a very productive draft. With their first round pick, they selected TE Jermaine Gresham from the University of Oklahoma. He is a very talented receiving tight end. Gresham has great hands and can pluck the ball out of the air. He has the skills to be a playmaker in the NFL. He looks to get 24 catches for 240 yards and a TD. In the third round, they took WR Jordan Shipley from the University of Texas. He is very quick and agile, able to smoothly change directions. Shipley has a knack for getting himself open and making a big play. He lacks the explosiveness to leave the defender behind. If Bryant doesn't stick, Shipley might be their third receiver and rack up 42 receptions for 480 yards and 3 TD's. Then in the sixth round, they selected WR Dezmon Briscoe from the University of Kansas. He has been compared to Kevin Walter but a slow forty time dropped his draft stock. He is very agile and athletic. The Bengals have compiled a deep group of receivers and Briscoe might be sent to the practice squad or dropped if he doesn't catch on.
The Bengals strengthened their offense through free agency and the draft. It looks as though they want to do what it takes to continue to compete in the AFC North. They should be an interesting team to watch as the roster is again filled with a cast of characters. As TO would say- "Get your popcorn ready".
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