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Bengals Bye Week Report Card: A Recap

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This week, I went through each aspect of the team, both on offense and on defense and special teams, and gave a grade to each one. At the end of each article, I asked you to vote on what grade you felt that part of the team deserved through the first six weeks of the 2011 season.

Here's a quick recap of the grades we both gave:


What I said:

If it were any other quarterback, they wouldn't be getting as high of a grade but because Dalton is a rookie and came into the 2011 season with the odds stacked against him, I think he deserves a B+. He had done what the coaches have asked him to do and even though he doesn't put up the numbers that Cam Newton does, he doesn't turn the ball over as much and he has all the intangible qualities of leadership and poise. Dalton certainly does look like the quarterback of the future and there's no question that part of the reason that Mike Brown decided to trade Carson Palmer was because he was comfortable with the thought of Andy Dalton as his replacement as the new franchise quarterback.

My Grade: B+

Your Grade: B (502 votes for B -- 390 votes for A)

Running Back:

What I said:

The running game has been disappointing this season. Benson hasn't looked very good and when Scott has been given a chance to carry the ball, he hasn't looked very good either. What they've done may be enough to get a win in the first six games when their opponents had a combined record of 13-21, but now that they're moving into a tougher section of their schedule, the Bengals need to figure out a way to make their running game work. If they don't they could be in trouble, especially when they get into the AFC North stretch of their schedule.

Honestly the only reason I gave the Bengals a C is because Benson has the capability to carry the ball 25-30 times a game. That can at least keep a defense honest enough for the play action to work for Dalton. If Benson couldn't do that the grade might be in the D+ range.

My Grade: C

Your Grade: C (417 votes for C -- 237 votes for D)


This unit has been good considering their overall lack of experience. Green has been incredible so far this season and is on pace to be considered for the Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, the team's No. 2 receiver, Jerome Simpson, has been inconsistant. Maybe there were problems stemming from the drug investigation he is a part of but he plays well in one game and then does nothing in the next. Caldwell hasn't been much better and the way they're both playing right now they may not get re-signed next season (they're both in contract years). Gresham has been a good safety valvue for Andy Dalton and has proven to become a red zone threat but he has had some inconsistant games as well. He's getting better though. Hawkins is an exciting player to watch when he has the ball but he doesn't get the ball enough to really judge him well. Drops have also been a problem at times.

My Grade: B-

Your Grade: B (497 votes for B -- 163 votes for A)

Offensive Line:

What I Said:

The line has been decent and they have progressively gotten better. Their pass protection has been decent to good through the first four games with the highlight being the last game against the Colts. Their run blocking has struggled at times but other times it has been okay. Even though Benson has struggled so far this season a lot of the problem has been him and not the offensive line.

Heading into the next few weeks the offensive line will have to be on top of their game because the Bengals will play some of the better defenses in the NFL. Not only will they play the Steelers and Ravens but they play the Titans (No. 9 defense), the Browns (No. 7 defense) and the Texans (No. 10 defense).

My Grade: B-/C+

Your Grade: B (340 votes for B -- 229 votes for C)

Defensive Line:

What I Said:

The defensive line has amazing depth and because of that they wear offensive lines down. They also haven't had much difficulty applying pressure to quarterbacks without the help of the linebackers or secondary which allows the cornerbacks, safeties and linebackers to cover receivers downfield instead of helping the line rush the passer. Also, two defensive linemen have had a touchdown this season -- Atkins scored against the Jaguars and Dunlap scored against the Colts.

They have also been tough against the run throughout the season, only allowing Willis McGahee to run over 100 yards against them.

The defensive line is by far the biggest reason the Bengals defense is in the top three defenses in the league.

My Grade: A

Your Grade: A (343 votes for A -- 117 votes for B) 


What I Said:

Obviously the linebackers are a big factor in the Bengals having the No. 2 ranked defense but they have been inconsistant at time, outside of Howard who has been fairly consistant throughout the season so far. Howard has actually been so good that I personally doubt that the team brings Rivers back when he's healed. I think they'll likely place him on IR.

Maualuga started off slow but progressively got better as the weeks wore on. He missed the team's last game with an inured ankle.

Lawson has just kind of been there. He hasn't made any eye-popping plays that were either good or bad.

Both Brandon Johnson and Dan Skuta have been decent when played.

My Grade: B

Your Grade: B (273 votes for B -- 126 votes for A)


What I Said:

Despite losing Johnathan Joseph in the offseason, the Bengals secondary has looked impressive throughout the first six games of the season. They only good passing team they played has been the Bills so far, though. Nate Clements has been good enough in pass defense and solid in run support.

The unit hasn't intercepted enough passes to be elite but the combination of a good pass rush and their initial coverage has been enough to make them the third best passing defense in the league.

My Grade: B

Your Grade: B (184 votes for B -- 128 for C)

Special Teams:

What I Said:

Mike Nugent has been solid this season despite a missed field goal and extra point. When it has come to the clutch kicks, he's been good. Huber has shown that he has a nuclear-powered leg but he also can angle his punts where he needs them to go for the most part.

When it comes to Tate, he's made some bad decisions, like fair catching punts on the five-yard line or letting punts go past him that he should have caught, but he has an undeniable ability to make plays and I personally think it's only a matter of time before he returns a punt or a kick in a crucial moment.

My Grade: B+

Your Grade: B (206 votes for B -- 84 votes for A)

How do you feel about the grades given to each unit through the first six teams of the 2011 season?