A day after I joined Nick Seuberling on the Bengals "WhoDeyWeekly" podcast here at Cincy Jungle, I was asked to join a fine group of guys at Baltimore Sports Live for their Ravens broadcast. Mike Randall, Chris Worthington, Dan Bryden and I spent about twenty minutes previewing the status of the Bengals for their AFC North rundown. Not only was I pleased to hear that they listened in to the WDW podcast, but it was great to chat with them about our beloved boys in orange and black.
You can listen to the podcast interview here. If you can't listen to the audio, I've transcribed some parts of the interview in this post. Enjoy.
MR: "Anthony, talk about the Bengals draft class--any guys that seem to have the potential to contribute and produce right away?"
AC: "Well, as you guys probably know, the Bengals were still reaping the benefits of the Carson Palmer mega-deal with the Raiders, so they had an extra early second round pick...They used their first round pick surprisingly on tight end Tyler Eifert, who I think is going to be a bit of a niche player early on--he'll be a little bit of a hybrid player, I think. I can see him splitting out wide like a wide receiver, also in the slot and obviously in two-tight end packages. He'll get on the field pretty often and he has been impressing in minicamp with his ability to catch the ball in traffic and make some plays there. Giovani Bernard out of North Carolina is the guy that they took at the top of the second with that Raiders pick, and initially he'll take a little bit of a back seat to BenJarvus Green-Ellis and be more of a complementary back, but maybe as soon as the end of this season or in the next couple of seasons he'll take over that spot...Another guy to keep an eye on is Shawn Williams, a safety that they picked in the fourth round and he'll be competing for that open strong safety spot with Taylor Mays."
DB: "...First of all, congratulations on your guys' 100th episode of WhoDeyWeekly, I've been listening almost a year now and it's great. Even fans of other teams can appreciate the show. I want to talk a little bit about linebackers, you guys brought in the infamous James Harrison...I want to get your thoughts on him, but I also want to get your thoughts on Rey Maualuga. It seems like he (Marvin Lewis) has a lot of faith in him (Maualuga), it seems like those in the Bengals community and those who watch film on him don't have much faith in him. What are your thoughts on those guys?"
AC: "Well, first of all, thanks for the compliment on the podcast, but I can't take to much credit, as I've only been on a handful of episodes. Nick Seuberling and Mickey Mentzer do a great job running that show and have done it for a few years now. As for the linebackers, a lot of Bengals fans were displeased about Rey Maualuga getting re-signed. Especially at the value that he was re-signed at--he signed a little bit bigger of a contract than many expected, he had very limited interest on the free agent market...Maualuga's kind of a frustrating guy. You see what he did in college, you've now seen what he's done in his NFL career and while he makes a big play here and there, he also makes some boneheaded mistakes. We've seen him overpursue, miss tackles and that's supposed to be your, kind of, anchor on defense...Hopefully they (Bengals coaching staff) feel that they can coach him up and he's turned a corner. My guess, is that there will be a lot of rotating in the linebacker unit. I think Maualuga is going to be a two-down 'backer, I think that the same thing might go for Harrison. I think you'll see a lot of Vontaze Burfict and a second year guy that they are really high on in Emmanuel Lamur."
"As for Harrison, I think they'll find creative ways to use him and I hear that they are pretty impressed with his transition from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3. Again, I kind of see him as a guy who will be on the field for two downs and if he's on for three, maybe they slide him up to the line and have him rush the passer. All in all, I see a lot of rotating in those spots."
CW: "Let's switch gears and talk offense now. Do you think that Andy Dalton is poised for a breakout year? He's got one of the game's best, young wide receivers in A.J. Green, a lot of folks are high on Mohamed Sanu and now you guys have two very good tight ends. Do you think that that's the offense that will take you guys to the next level?"
AC: "You know, Andy Dalton has quite a few critics. He has his shortcomings--he's very inconsistent with the deep ball, he gets skittish under pressure. But, he's led the team to the playoffs in his first tow years, though some would argue that the defense carried them. Dalton has thrown 47 touchdowns in his first two seasons, though. I think that some of the critics are a little harsher on him than they need to be, especially for a guy that was thrown into a pretty bad situation as a rookie. I think that he's going to take a pretty good leap this year--he's got a lot of offensive weapons and this is a huge year for him. I think that people want to see a cutback on his overall turnovers, as he had more of those in his second year than his rookie year. But, he also had a big improvement in overall touchdowns in his second year. There are signs of improvement, but there are also signs of concern--especially the deep ball, that seems to be the biggest.
I think that if they keep everyone healthy, you mentioned Green and Sanu, if Gresham can be a little more consistent and they find a good way to integrate the rookies, Eifert and Bernard. He hasn't really had a solid running game to lean on in his time here and I think that Bernard will be huge for him. Dalton hasn't had a safety blanket coming out of the backfield to throw dump off passes to, and I think Bernard will be big there."