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A Matter of a Case Being Closed: Bengals Have The Best Cornerback Duo In The NFL

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Do the Bengals have the best cornerback duo in the NFL? The homer in me says, "hell yes!". The NFL fan in me says, "yes". The passive man in your work place -- let's call him Bart -- that's so uninterested in sports that he calls a hockey puck, the ball-game-thingy even responds, "I know my depression is linked to non-sports love, therefore I say that the Bengals have the best cornerback duo in the league." Bart, you're a good guy, no matter what creepy stories Meagan from accounting has told.

Even creepy guys find love.

Countless times we've examined both cornerbacks. We always call them, "one of the best duos in the league." It gives us wiggle room, allows us to say it without actually saying it. Maybe it's time we just go ahead and say it. Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall are the best cornerback duo in the NFL. Would it be a little too fanatical to put "all time" at the end of that? Alright, alright. One step at a time.

NFL Analyst Mike Detillier asked 12 scouts, NFL coaches and directors of player personnel which cornerback duo in the NFL was the best. Of those 12, the Bengals duo of Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall received the most votes. The New York Jets' Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie came up second with the New Orleans Saints' Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter rounding out the top three.

“You asked for the best starting cornerback duo and I would have to go with the Bengals,” an AFC personnel chief said. “For pure talent, consistency, the ability to play tight coverage and also play the run I would go with Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall. At first glance many might say the Jets because Darrelle Revis is better than anyone other than Nnamdi Asomugha with the Oakland Raiders, but I am not that excited about Antonio Cromartie. He is very inconsistent, not technically sound and a big time guesser out on the field. There are some good units out there, but I don’t think anyone has the talent and production out on the field that Hall and Joseph had last season.”

Joseph and Hall were back-to-back first round picks in 2006 and 2007 respectively after the Bengals passing defense routinely finished worst in the league before both cornerbacks settled in with Cincinnati. Since then, the passing defense slowly went from 26th against the pass in 2007 to sixth in 2009. Thanks to stellar play by our cornerbacks, as well as the cursing mad scientist that calls himself Mike Zimmer by day.

  Yrds/Game % Of Passes Result in 1st Down
2005 223.1 (26th) 35.6% (t-29th)
2006 238.6 (t-31st) 37.1% (32nd)
2007 230.4 (26th) 37.0 (t-29th)
2008 205.4 (15th) 33.4 (t-15th)
2009 203.1 (6th) 30.2 (2nd)

We showed this last week. But since it looks so nice...

Ranking amongst other NFL cornerbacks and comparison to the league leader
  NFL Leader Johnathan Joseph Leon Hall
Interceptions 9 6 (t-5th) 6 (t-5th)
Pass Defensed 37 26 (6th) 30 (3rd)
Tackles 88 69 (13th) 71 (15th)
PFF - Overall 28.6 10.8 (6th) 14.9 (3rd)
PFF - Coverage 31.0 9.4 (8th) 15.9 (4th)
PFF - Rush D 15.0 2.4 (t-23rd) 3.0 (t-13)

Last year, Joseph intercepted a Ben Roethlisberger pass for a touchdown early in the third quarter, cutting the defict against Pittsburgh to four points, which basically gave the Bengals enough momentum to eventually win on September 27. Soon after, against Cleveland and Baltimore in back-to-back weeks, Joseph intercepted passes near the goal line, killing both possessions that could have swung either way. In the same October 4 contest against Cleveland, Hall stripped the football from running back Jerome Harrison and watched Robert Geathers scoop it up, running 75 yards as best as a defensive lineman can, for a touchdown and an early 14-point lead in the second quarter. On October 11, Hall intercepted a Joe Flacco pass with four seconds left in the game to shut down the Ravens.

It makes sense that the Bengals want to start negotiations with Joseph now to get them out of the way with so when Hall's negotiations come, they'll be that much closer to keeping the band together. After all, I'm sure the Bengals don't want to become the NFL version of Yoko Ono, do they? That'd just be creepy.