After five straight wins, I wish we could just group all the Bengals players together as one collective MVP instead of singling out players because, while mistakes have been made, the team as a whole has been outstanding and they're only getting better.
Unfortunately we can't just nominate the whole team and we do need to pick specific players to be the MVPs and Goats of the Bengals' Week 9 victory on the road against the Tennessee Titans.
We'll start with Dave Wellman's pick for this week's MVP:
"MVP: Nate Clements. I believe this is the second time I've given him the nod this year. He continues to help Bengals fans forget the loss of Johnathan Joseph. Against Tennessee, he came up with a timely strip late that allowed the Bengals to extend their lead to seven while taking the clock down to the two-minute warning. As a result, Tennessee needed a touchdown just to tie, and had no time left for anything beyond the old desperation-multiple-laterals routine. On a team known primarily for its youth, Clements has been a great veteran presence all year."
- In the end, he may not be considered to be quite as good as Johnathan Joseph but he's always around the ball and he's made some huge plays for the Bengals top-five defense so far this season. The loss of Joseph will sting but Dave is right on when he said that Clements is helping us forget about it a game at a time.
Joe Goodberry's MVP:
"Andy Dalton. When the Bengals needed the passing game to carry this team, Andy Dalton answered the call. His three touchdown passes marked a career high and all three came on third downs. If this was college football, the Titans game would be Dalton's Heisman moment. Instead, this is Dalton's Rookie of the year game. He's been called the Bengals quarterback of the future. I think we're entering a new stage in Andy Dalton's career. Franchise Quarterback."
- In my opinion, Andy Dalton deserves to be named the team's MVP through the first half of the season. For a rookie he's shown incredible poise and he's led the Bengals to victory in some tough situations against some tough opponents. He seems to get better every week and it makes me excited for the future of this team
Anthony Cosenza's MVP:
"A.J. Green. Though Dalton was fantastic, it was Green who constantly bailed Dalton out of horrible situations with acrobatic catches. His 20-yard highlight play on the drive that clinched the game was incredible. Though he didn't have a touchdown reception, he opened up the rest of the receiving options and literally caught every ball thrown his way."
- If Andy Dalton doesn't deserve to be the team's front runner for the league's Offensive Rookie of the Year award at the half-way point, who does? That answer is simple: A.J. Green. He makes the impossible catches look easy and he makes the easy catches look like I can catch them. Just so you know, I can't catch, so that's a pretty big deal.
Naji Bsisu's MVP:
"Carlos Dunlap: Carlos really came on in the second half and put some much needed pressure on Matt Hasselbeck. He finished with two sacks and narrowly missed returning a fumble for a touchdown after the referees decided (correctly so) that it was a forward pass not a fumble. Consistent pressure from Dunlap and the rest of the defensive line makes our secondary that much better."
- Dunlap turned it on against the Titans. After recording his first sack of the season in Seattle, he got two more in Tennessee and Naji is definitely right about the fact that Dunlap's constant pressure on the quarterback makes the secondary's job so much easier. Hopefully Dunlap is healthy and ready to get back on the field sooner rather than later.
Now to the Goats:
Dave Wellman's Goat:
"Andre Smith. Smith had a horrible game Sunday, though in all fairness the entire o-line struggled (again), as the approximately 1.2 million holding calls amply demonstrated. Smith's footwork was sloppy in pass protection and he failed to get to the second level in the run game. At times, it appeared (at least to me) that he didn't know exactly what he was supposed to be doing. But the bottom line is that Andre did nothing to shut the haters up this week."
- Smith has looked good at times and at times he's looked bad. Sunday in Tennessee was one of those bad times. Even though he's started all eight games so far this season at right tackle, he hasn't done anything to prove to me that he can be, or deserves to be, the team's long-term answer at right tackle.
Joe Goodberry's Goat:
"Mike Zimmer and The Defense (1st Half): The Titans were picking the Bengals defense apart. They allowed an easy 4th and 3 conversion because the CBs were playing off-coverage. Chris Johnson almost had his breakout game because everything run to the outside was working. Titans TE Jared Cook was single-covered continually even though he was beating the Bengals. The strategy and play-calling was fixed by halftime and the Bengals completely shut the Titans offense down. It was almost too late. Down 10 points midway through the 3rd quarter, the Bengals offense made up for the defenses lack-luster performance in the first half. "
- I'll admit that I was pretty terrified through the first half of the game on Sunday. Not only did Matt Hasselbeck look pretty good, but Chris Johnson looked like he might have his breakout game of the season against the Bengals defense. He broke off a few long runs and had flashes of the Chris Johnson that we all know and fear (when the Bengals are playing him). The second half was a completely different story, but we all know that the Bengals defense can't have one good half and one bad half against the Steelers if they want to win.
Anthony Cosenza's Goat:
"Kelly Jennings and Reggie Nelson: For two defensive backs that the Bengals traded for the last two offseasons, they didn't pull their weight Sunday. Both Jennings and Nelson were simultaneously beat on a TD reception that nearly put the game out of reach at a critical point in the game. Nelson has been a good pickup to this point, but consistently gets beat on routes with double moves. Jennings has just been a non-factor while filling in for Adam Jones."
- Jennings has been a disappointment so far this season and it's made me hope that Adam Jones would hurry back to the team. Nelson has shown flashes at times but without the Bengals front seven playing the way they are, I don't know how Kelly would be. Hopefully, for their sakes, the front seven keeps it up.
Naji Bsisu's Goat:
"Kelly Jennings: Jennings seemed to really struggle this game and gave up a few big plays, especially towards the end of the first half. I'm hoping they were just mental mistakes which Zimmer can correct and not that he's just not that talented. Either way, it'll be nice to get Adam Jones healthy again."
- Again, Jennings just hasn't been impressive. Even though Nate Clements has been pretty good, neither he nor Leon Hall have gotten much help from Jennings. Hopefully Adam Jones gets back on the field soon.