The next CJ Award could also be deemed "the kiss-up award". The coaches' award nominees are players who have to be a favorite of the coaching staff--not only because of their play on the field, but because of the leadership and an example of good character. For all of the flak that the Bengals organization has received over years for having players of questionable character, they have a number of "good guys" on the team as well.
Here are the staff's nominees for the 2012 coaches' award:
ANTHONY COSENZA: I'm going with Domata Peko. The big man from the Pacific has been a Bengals staple for many years and has really become one of the team leaders in the past couple of years. Though he contributes pretty regularly on defense, he isn't a normally a three-down player nor is he the best player on the unit, yet he never complains about his role--he embraces it. I also can't forget about Peko organizing player-led workouts in 2011 during the lockout, especially when the team was in such turmoil. You can tell that he has taken some of the younger defensive linemen under his wing and is one of Marvin Lewis' and Mike Zimmer's favorite players on the squad.
JASON GARRISON: When I think of leadership and the Bengals I think of left tackle Andrew Whitworth. He may not have done anything to show his leadership ability to the mainstream media in 2012, he was the leader of an offensive line that was composed of a second-year player with little no to experience at left guard, a rookie center through the majority of the season, a rookie right guard and a right tackle that has finally begun to come into his own. I highly doubt that without Whitworth, the Bengals offensive line, as young as it was, would have played nearly as well as they did.
MIKE TOWNSEND (AKA UpStateMike): My vote is for Adam Jones. 2012 was an amazing year for Blinky (one of the ghosts always after Pacman. Yeah, it's early morning). But he played in every game this year. He had 40 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack. He made losing JJoe much, much less painful. Who wasn't screaming "Put in Pacman!" for every return?
But off field is where he stood out to me. Jones started out over $11 million in the hole, paying for his youthful transgressions. I have to believe this judgement got his attention. Adam was a guest speaker for the NFL rookie symposium, to talk to them about making the right choices. He was a veteran force, teaching the youngsters on the team. He DIDN'T get into any trouble at all. To go from a guy with excess baggage to a team leader is a pretty impressive feat for any player. Way to go, Adam!
ANDREW FOX MILLER: Whenever I think about leadership on the Bengals, one name that always comes to mind is Chris Crocker. We all know that Crocker was released last off season only to return this past September as a starter. The Bengals began to see a resurgence in their otherwise lackluster defense early in the season. I'm sure there were a number of factors that led to the defense climbing up the ranks as the season progressed, but I also don't think it's entirely a coincidence that Crocker's return was met with noticeable improvements on the defense as a whole. After being released from a team that has identified him as a team leader multiple times, he came back the same way he left: No complaints, hard work, and being a true professional.
Well, there you have it--you know where the Cincy Jungle staff stands. Who gets your vote for The CJ for the Bengals 2012 coaches' award?