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Why The Bengals Should Sign Johnathan Joseph And Leon Hall Long-Term (When They Can)

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According to Pro Football Focus, of the 563 passing plays that Leon Hall participated in, only 74 resulted in quarterbacks targeting receivers that he covered. Hall's 13.14% ranks as the league's 12 lowest percentage amongst cornerbacks that took at least 300 snaps in pass coverage; behind names like Oakland's Nnamdi Asomugha, Miami's Sean Smith, Philadelphia's Asante Samuel and New York's Darrell Revis.

When you really think about it, it's one of those things that invites a "well, duh" response. A Bob and Tom "Mr. Obvious" skit. While not having the artistically beautiful support of statistics in front of us, quarterbacks not targeting Hall ranked high on the scale of obvious conclusions. He was the team's best cover cornerback in 2010, additionally solidified with Johnathan Joseph's nagging ankle injury that forced him to miss four games. So the obvious is there. With Joseph out, or struggling because of an injury that limited his range and motion, why throw to Hall, who was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2009 with guys like Jonathan Wade in coverage; especially true after Adam Jones and Morgan Trent went down for the season with injuries.

Let's take a look at the numbers.

2010 Snaps Tar. Pct. Rec. Rec. % TDs Rating
Leon Hall 563 74 13.1% 44 56.4% 5 84.2
Johnathan Joseph 371 64 17.3% 42 65.6% 3 81.3
Adam Jones 118 16 13.6% 10 62.5% 2 109.9
Morgan Trent 139 29 20.9% 19 65.5% 0 70.9
Johnathan Wade 91 46 50.6% 30 65.2% 6 136.9
Snaps = total snaps in pass coverage; tar. = passes targeted; pct. = percentage of targets against coverage snaps; rec. = receptions allowed; rec. % = percentage of receptions allowed against targets; TDs = Touchdowns; Rating = opposing quarterback rating when throwing to against the Bengals cornerback.

Let's compare Hall, Joseph and Trent's production for 2009.

  Snaps Tar. Pct. Rec. Rec. % TDs Rating
Leon Hall 608 101   51   3 52.6
Johnathan Joseph 608 108   64   3 67.8
Morgan Trent 291 41   25   1 87.9
Snaps = total snaps in pass coverage; tar. = passes targeted; pct. = percentage of targets against coverage snaps; rec. = receptions allowed; rec. % = percentage of receptions allowed against targets; TDs = Touchdowns; Rating = opposing quarterback rating when throwing to against the Bengals cornerback.

We've championed for some time that the Bengals need to reverse trends; rather than watching their superior free agents leave for free agency, they have to sign Joseph long-term. Hall too. To keep the versatility of Mike Zimmer's blitzing schemes and overall defense, the Bengals need two tremendous cornerbacks, which opens up the defense. This is especially true if the team implements coverage deficient linebackers like Rey Maualuga and Dhani Jones with unknowns in Roddrick Muckelroy and perhaps Dontay Moch. That way safeties like Chris Crocker, Reggie Nelson and Robert Sands won't have to worry so much about guys our cornerbacks are covering and instead help out the linebackers underneath.