Why the defense is not in as good a shape as we think....
I love what our Bengals did overall this year... Great Draft... Actually trying to trade for a pos. of need during the season.. It sucked at the end but was great overall. Now its time to take the next step to Conference Championship contender. If we were more healthy I know we would've won at the most two games but getting past a team like the Colts to get to the Super bowl will take more than what we have now. We have a great "Defensive Ranking" but those overall rankings prove very little. The offense is far from perfect but Defense wins championships.
I see alot of people screaming for another high O-line pick and leaving the D-line at the back of the line. That is a big mistake. The D-line is a major problem. Our accolades in the run game have hidden our problems at rushing the passer.
In our last 4 games our D-line had 1 sack and 5 in our last 8. This includes the Oakland Raiders, who was 3rd in the league in sacks allowed and QB hits, in which we were totally shut down.
There is no way we can count on Odom. He has had major injuries in both his seasons with the Bengals and even more troubling is they happen early in the season.
Sacks aren't everything but they are a product of pressure, just like turnovers. We don't have one D-Lineman with multiple double-digit sack seasons and between all of them only 1 double-digit sack season in their career. Hell not counting Odom we don't have a single D-Lineman that has multiple 5+ sack seasons, ouch. Peko is our best D-Lineman and wouldn't think about replacing him but he only averages a sack per season. For these reasons I would give the D-line our utmost attention.
Now we have the safety position that has been just as much a roller coaster ride. They were a big part in our run stopping success but watching them work in the open field is just painful. Chris Crocker getting his ankles broke by an average at best move is burnt in my mind. I also love Duke because he plays his ass off but constant mental lapses have really just brought me to the conclusion that his worth is special-teamer. Usually losing your job wakes you up but after Roy went out Duke showed the same problems he had as a rookie. The Denver game was a glimpse at our season, the big play was a problem. I remember saying about a lot of games "if it wasn't for that one play it would've been even better". Not all big plays were the safeties fault but there is a reason they are called SAFTIES.
The linebacker spot is a potential big problem, 3 of our 7 current linebackers are free agents. One of those being Brandon Johnson. He's young and showed his worth but will never be a starter unless Rivers gets hurt or just totally falls off. This reason makes me think he will be gone. If someone offers him a major shot at starting it will be too tempting. Dhani Jones is going on 32 and we have no true starting SLB. Jeanty is just an accident waiting to happen when he's asked to step up. Its like bad luck knows he is being majorly counted on and goes into action. The Draft is for the future and the only guaranteed future at LB IMHO is Rivers and Rey.
Oh yeah I didn't mention Zim's contract because I don't want to even think about him not being here. He's staying!