Sports Illustrated's Don Banks points out that one Bengals player deserved to be in the Pro Bowl. No, not Cedric Benson -- though if you look at the numbers, he was kind of a stretch as it was. No, not Leon Hall. Or Johnathan Joseph. Banks writes:
If I were NFL commissioner for a day, I know who would get the nod from me: Cincinnati middle linebacker Dhani Jones, one of pivotal cogs in the success of the playoff-bound Bengals.
That's right. Our air guitar playin' middle linebacker, Dhani. The same Dhani who has his own show. The same Dhani who has his own Febreeze commercial. And I couldn't agree more. Banks continues.
But he's one of the most indispensable Bengals this season, and his rock-solid play in the middle of a Cincinnati defense that ranks second against the rush (87.7), fourth in total yards (300.1), and fifth in points allowed (16.9) has not been overlooked by those within the league who know defensive football. Though he leads the Bengals in tackles for a second year with 106 through 15 games, Jones doesn't have the type of gaudy personal stats that attract Pro Bowl votes. But know this: His 3½ sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and five passes defensed tell only a fraction of the story.
Again, couldn't agree more. In fact, Dhani is the least talked about starter on defense but he's the most consistent and has step-for-step taken on more than just being a linebacker. He's a leader on defense that improved from 27th in 2007 to fourth in 2009. Banks quotes Zimmer.
"He's as smart a guy as I've ever had playing in the middle for me. He asks tremendous questions, understands everyone's role, and he wants to be leaned on by everyone on the field. The kid really loves football. And I respect guys like that. I like those kind of guys.''
Dhani will be a free agent after the 2010 season.