National Pundits Continue To Praise Bengals

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - JANUARY 31: NBC studio analyst and Sports Illustrated write Peter King looks on during the Super Bowl XLVI Broadcasters Press Conference at the Super Bowl XLVI Media Canter in the J.W. Marriott Indianapolis on January 31, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The Bengals 2012 offseason has somewhat surprisingly drawn praise from many writers and NFL analysts across the country. Many rated the Bengals draft as one of the best in the NFL and the praise has continued past the team's OTA's.

According to Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson, national analysts Charley Casserly, John Clayton, and Peter King recently had some great things to say about the Bengals. Casserly, who is the former Houston Texans and Washington Redskins General Manager, is also a current NFL Network analyst and he likes the way that Mike Brown and company are building the team:

"I like what they've done in the big picture the last two years. They've become bigger, faster, more physical, and are all on the same page with no distractions."

Casserly also likes that Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have a full offseason to get better:

"There is a positive in that because it's a young team," Casserly says. "Those guys were able to line up and get the snaps they needed. And you have to figure that Green and Dalton are going to be better for having that (spring) of work."

ESPN writer John Clayton has also been impressed with what the Bengals have done. He only expects the Bengals to get eight wins this season, but he thinks they will be contending for a long time:

"They're not as good as Pittsburgh and Baltimore yet," Clayton says. "(But) let's put it this way. I think they're going to be contending for years."

Clayton says that the next step for Dalton is to challenge Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger to be the top quarterback in the division:

"But he showed he's a good one. (A.J.) Green is a monster and Jay Gruden is going to be fine again and he'll put himself in position to be a head coach. They should be OK in the passing game."

Sports Illustrated writer Peter King is often critical of the Bengals, and he is still a long way off from anointing them as Super Bowl champions. However, King does acknowledge that the Bengals are building something:

"The last couple of weeks when I've made calls around the league I've asked who they thought was the team to watch and two guys told me to look out for the Bengals. We'll see. I think a lot depends how (rookie cornerback) Dre Kirkpatrick plays early, but they've got a franchise receiver in A.J. Green and I like Andy Dalton. I think they're going to be a team that some people fall in love with this summer."

Of course, when someone brings up positives, they are also likely to bring up some negatives. This Bengal team is not without some flaws. Clayton, for one, has questions about the Bengals running game:

"The question I have is (BenJarvus) Green-Ellis because he's never carried it very much or been the lead guy. He isn't used to a lot of carries and he's going to a running division and running team."

King sees Clayton's point, but he also understands that the Bengals do not expect Green-Ellis to be the next Walter Payton:

"Any team that Marvin Lewis is coaching is going to run the ball," King says. "Green-Ellis isn't explosive, but they want him to do what Benson did and possess the ball and get three or four yards every time without big losses and that's what he does."

Clayton also questions if the secondary has what it takes to shut down some passing games this season:

"I know they've got volume, but do they have quality at Defensive Back?" Clayton asks.

King echoes Clayton's sentiments on the cornerback issue, simply stating:

"To me the question is if Hall and Kirkpatrick are going to be B-plus corners for them in the next few years?" King says.

While the Bengals may have some questions, they have a lot of needed parts in place to make another playoff run this season. It may take a while for some analysts to complete come around on the Bengals, but this team seems headed in the right direction.

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