Much to-do has been made of Brat’s lack of creativity limiting the offense. I am of the opinion that Brat has been limited by personnel since 2006. In 2007 there were no RBs, in 2008, there was no QB or Center, in 2009 there were no receivers (after Chris Henry Broke his arm).
First, I want to compare the 2005 rushing game to the 2009. We all know that run-first Bengals of 2009 had one of the best rushing seasons in franchise history, rushing for over 2000 total yards, which is pretty darn good. What you haven’t thought about is that in 2005, the pass happy Bengals rushed for .1 yards more per carry and were only outrun by 10 yards a game by the 2009 team. The 2005 team also had 6 more rushing TDs. I only say this to show that the 2010 team can be even better than 2009 in terms of rushing, because the running backs in 2010 will be better than 2009, they just need a better passing offense to open running lanes.
Running Backs: Benson is very similar to Rudi Johnson in production. Rudi was more durable and better on the goal line, but Benson is a much greater break-away threat. I call this a draw. Bernard Scott, however, is better than Chris Perry. He rushed for more yards in 2009 than Perry did in 2005. Perry contributed more than Scott in the passing game, but Scott as a rookie contributed far more than Perry did as a rookie and can be expected to do even more this year. In 2005, Carson Palmer was the team’s 3rd best rusher in 2005, and would have been in 2009 if not for Benson’s injury forcing Larry Johnson to play 3 games. But, Carson is a better runner now than in 05. Palmer, while still not a threat to break a long run, double his yards per carry, scored 3 TDs and ran for a few key first downs. He was an effective runner when the passing game was working. In 2005 there were no other rushers worth mentioning, because none had more than 10 carries, but in 2009, Brian Leonard came on as a force on 3rd downs and negated Perry’s yardage advantage over Scott. Brian Leonard makes on clutch plays, and if nothing else forces opposing defenses to plan for a 3rd option in the backfield. The 2010 team could run for even more yards
Offensive Line: The 2009 offensive line was not nearly as good as the 2005 line. The 2010 line will also probably not be as good as the 2005 line, but they could be close. The line developed into a cohesive unit which blocked well for the run, but could do better blocking for the pass. If healthy, Andre Smith could improve both pass and run blocking. The Right Tackle position gave up 10 sacks, 1/3 rd of the teams sack total in 2009. Andre Smith is should cut down that number significantly if not erase it all together. Additionally, Kyle Cook should be better after a year of calling the protection schemes. Finally, the 2010 line has better depth than any the Bengals have had at any time I can remember. Livings, Collins, and Roland all have starting experience, and Hudson has talent.
Tight End: Many people on the board have questioned Reggie Kelly’s value to the team, what has not been questioned is that Kelly is better than Coats, Foshi, and Roland combined at the TE position. That said, it is likely he will be backing up Gresham this year. That said, Coats and Foshi contributed more statistically in receiving yards than did Kelly and Schobel did in 2005. If Gresham is healthy, he could easily have the best season for a Bengals’ TE since Tony McGee’s 1995 campaign.
Wide Receiver: First, I want to highlight the lack of receivers last year, because many people are underestimating Chris Henry’s importance. In the first seven games, when Henry was healthy, the Bengals averaged 23 points a game, afterward; they averaged 16, a drop-off of 1 TD a game. However, if you subtract the 2 return TDs before the injury and the 3 afterward, the offense scored 21 points with Henry ( 3TDs a game) and 13 points without him (1TD and 2 FGs).
The Receivers this year should be better than they were last year. In fact this should be the Bengals best receiving corps ever, and could eclipse 2005. First for that to happen Chad has to be Chad, and Chad was not Chad the last 2 years, or was he? IN the first 8 games, when Henry was playing, Chad averaged 80 yards a game, afterward, which had that covered the full year he would have amassed around 1300 yards, his 5th best season. Next, assuming Bryant isn’t healthy early, TO has to be better than Chris Henry and TJ combined in 2005. That seems impossible since TO is old and TJ & Henry had 109 catches for 1378 yards and 13 TDs.
But I think it is possible. TO has equaled or exceeded 13 TDs seven times in his career. That catches are inconsequential in the end, but the yards are tough. TO has only exceeded 1378 yards twice, but in those years, he averaged 15 yards a catch. Last year, he still averaged 15.1 yards per catch and, in fact, he exceeded his career average per catch, while catching swill from Ryan Fitzpatrick who some of you may remember (the rest have blacked out that period). TO could have a career year, if you believe, as I do that Carson Palmer is as good or better than the other very good QB’s TO has had in Garcia, McNabb, and Romo. After that, Shipley, Simpson, Cosby, Bryant, and Caldwell just have to beat Kevin Walter’s and Kelly Washington’s 30 catches for 300 yards and 2 TDs, but Caldwell exceeded that last year.
QB: I believe that a healthy Palmer with weapons in 2009 should have his best year. He has been consistent when healthy with weapons from 2005-2007, except for extra INTs in 2007 due largely to last minute failed heroics.
The Offense is primed to be best Bengals offense ever, eclipsing 2005 and even 1988’s 28 points and 379 yards a game. Combined with a top 5 defense. We may last the last 30 seconds and finally get the SB monkey off our back and return to respectability.
Thanks for taking the time to read.