I really enjoyed the Sports Illustrated/MMQB preview of the 2017 Bengals because it confirmed almost all of my biases about the team.
Any given day on the Internet, who can ask for more than that? It’s the best, really.
Anyway, I recommend reading the whole thing, but here are some takeaways:
1. The Bengals didn’t need John Ross because they are already deep at receiver. Writer Andy Benoit calls Ross, a speedster from Washington, “a luxury pick.”
This is an interesting observation because it is true and also an example of how well the Bengals have built their roster overall.
This has also been a habit of late, including the choice to take offensive tackles Cedric Ogbuehi (who was injured) and Jake Fisher early in 2015 and grabbing William Jackson III last year.
This seems like a smart choice, but so far it hasn’t borne fruit. It’s actually kind of been a disaster, and it has left them with some specific weaknesses.
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Injuries have been in part to blame, but that is a part of football.
I heard Marvin Lewis explain about a decade ago they pick the best player available rather than draft on immediate need because needs change but in a few years you will still have an inferior player.
2. At the Bengals preseason luncheon a few weeks ago, Lewis pointed out they drafted Ogbuehi and Fisher just for the situation they find themselves in now — so they can step in when veterans leave.
And yet their status as unknowns is probably the biggest reason to doubt the Bengals will get back to the playoffs this season, so that’s interesting in and of itself.
3. Benoit notes Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has a lot of tricks in his sleeve but used few of them last year — even though Cincinnati’s pass rush stunk.
I would say anecdotally every time the Bengals blitzed last year, disaster seemed to strike, but Benoit recommends they dial up more pressure this season because they did not use a high pick on an elite pass rusher.
Counter point: rookies Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis and offseason acquisition Chris Smith have been impressive so far.
4. Joe Mixon is a better overall fit for the offense than Jeremy Hill.
This isn’t too surprising. Mixon and Hill are both big backs, but Mixon is shiftier and has better hands.
I am not as ready to close the door on Hill being a contributor, though. Perhaps the competition will bring out the best in him.
5. Andy Dalton is great when he has no pressure and bad when he has a lot of pressure.
This is not all that unique, but Benoit notes Dalton does himself no favors by lacking the ability some elite quarterbacks have to sense when to move around in the pocket and buy themselves time and space.
That’s an interesting insight — and not promising given the questions about Ogbuehi and Fisher.