Doing a series of snapshot analysis that compares the Bengals roster in 2012 and 2013. Today we start with the quarterback and Cincinnati's running game.
2013: Andy Dalton, Josh Johnson, John Skelton, Zac Robinson
2012: Andy Dalton, Bruce Gradkowski, Zac Robinson (practice squad), Tyler Hansen
2012: Theoretically, Bruce Gradkowski staying would have ideal for the Bengals this year due to his experience in the system and familiarity with the players. Gradkowski actually only played four games with Cincinnati, and two of those weren't as the result of mop-up duty. During the regular season opener in 2011, he replaced an injured Dalton. And last year, Gradkowski gave Dalton a rest in the regular season finale last year against Baltimore. Gradkowski led scores on five of 12 possessions without turning the football over. For the sake of completeness, Gradkowski also played the fourth quarter during a 35-7 blowout against the Steelers in 2011.
2013: Now the Bengals aren't even sure who's going to backup Dalton. Josh Johnson, who nearly went unemployed all season last year, and John Skelton, who nearly turned the football over (29) twice as many times as he's scored (15), are the leading candidates to replace Gradkowski.
2012 vs. 2013: I won't say that Cincinnati is worse, but we need more information before believing that they're better. Let's call it an optimistic push.
2013: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard*, Cedric Peerman, Rex Burkhead, Daniel Herron, Bernard Scott
2012: BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard, Cedric Peerman, Dan Herron (practice squad), Aaron Brown
2012: When Bernard Scott suffered an injury during an early August practice, it dissolved Jay Gruden's two-back plan into a one-man show with the recently acquired BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Cedric Peerman and Brian Leonard ran the football in spot duty.
2013: Let's call this a re-do. Playing the part of Bernard Scott is rookie running back Giovani Bernard. However, Scott is still on the team looking to make a dramatic statement after a season saturated with injury. Peerman is also back and Herron is facing the same fight for his NFL career that he fought last year.
2012 vs. 2013: Judging a rookie's success in the NFL prior to training camp is like planting the seed of a tree and knowing exactly how many leaves will sprout 100 years from now. In both cases, everyone lies. That being said, Giovani is an upgrade. Brian Leonard's effectiveness was slowing (and mostly specific to special teams) and now he's gone. And BenJarvus Green-Ellis is coming off an impressive year for a guy we thought would be a situational short-yardage runner.
2013: Chris Pressley, John Conner, Orson Charles (H-Back)
2012: Chris Pressley, James Develin, Jourdan Brooks
2012: There's just something familiar about having a natural fullback with stubby legs that can leg press planet Earth. With Pressley in the backfield, the Bengals averaged 4.1 yards/rush. The highest since 2009.
2013: It's believed that a training camp battle is developing, which could put Pressley's position in jeopardy. Orson Charles is being groomed as the H-Back (ala, Reggie Kelly).
2012 vs. 2013: As we pointed out in our first mock 53-man roster posting, Charles could replace Pressley eventually. But he has plenty of work ahead of him to make his case.