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Johnathan Joseph And Leon Hall Stand On Their Own Compared To Ken Riley And Lemar Parrish

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According to Geoff Hobson, cornerback Johnathan Joseph is one of team's top priority free agents. Forget about Adam Jones, Morgan Trent or Brandon Ghee. Forget about Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara or Jimmy Smith. The Cincinnati Bengals need to sign Joseph to a long-term deal, keeping him for another four years at least. After that, bring Leon Hall in for an extension that runs the length of Joseph's deal. Keep the team's best cornerback duo together. At least the best in nearly 30 years.

From 1970 through 1977, Ken Riley and Lemar Parrish, two of the greatest cornerbacks in Bengals history, combined for 61 interceptions and six touchdowns (off interceptions). Parrish was awarded six Pro Bowls during his stay and Ken Riley is often thought of as a Hall of Fame snub because his 65 career interceptions, which ranks fifth in league history, is missing in Canton. Most of you, especially older fans, would agree that these two were a great tandem, perhaps one of the best cornerback duos in league history. Yes?

Fast forward nearly 30 years and the Bengals have put together another quality duo that play just as well off each other, putting up numbers that's beginning to rival the franchise's best players. Let's compare Joseph and Hall's first four seasons as a duo with that of Ken Riley and Lemar Parrish (Riley and Joseph were drafted one season earlier than Parrish and Hall respectively).

Through Four Seasons
  Riley/Parrish Hall/Joseph
Interceptions 33 32
Touchdowns* 3 4
Games 109 115
*On interceptions

Applying my special formula (which I concocted after hours in the basement with beakers, Bunsen burners and Walter White) of multiplying everything by two, Joseph and Hall would combine for more interceptions and more touchdowns off interceptions over the span of eight seasons playing together than Riley and Parrish.

There will always be those against such impressions, many pointing out how much better Riley and Parrish were using arguments like the difference between a 14-game schedule and a 16-game schedule. The best argument for Riley and Parrish? They did it before the game really turned into a quarterback's playground.

Between 2007 and 2010, the four years with Hall and Joseph, opposing quarterbacks have attempted 2,107 passes against the Bengals defense. Hall and Joseph have intercepted 1.5% of those passes. Between 1970 and 1973, quarterbacks attempted 1,451 passes against the Bengals defense. Riley and Parrish intercepted 2.3% of those passes. Along with seeing fewer passes, Riley and Parrish intercepted a larger sum of those passes.

Yet, we'd be wrong to omit the circumstances that Joseph and Hall have to play through. Riley and Parrish never faced the scrutiny that Joseph and Hall faced with pass interferences, defensive holdings and illegal contacts -- most of which is subjective and called too quickly. Rules of today makes defending a wide receiver virtually impossible compared to the early 1970s. Additionally, offensive systems are more refined, wide receivers are taller, quicker and stronger while defensive schemes remain largely the same as they did when Riley and Parrish played.

We're not promoting one group or the other here. What we're doing is making a case for keeping Joseph around by any means possible. If you have to pay the man, do it. Because Hall and Joseph are well on their way to being one of the best cornerback duos in franchise history. And with a franchise that feature Ken Riley and Lemar Parrish, that's saying something.