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OBI Mailbag: Bengals’ defensive speed and marijuana growing as an NFL issue

On this week’s Orange and Black Insider, we answered some very interesting listener questions revolving around both league-wide social and internal Bengals issues.

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Cincinnati Bengals v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

It’s been an interesting week for America, to be sure, and even some of the results in politics are bleeding into the NFL landscape. On this week’s Orange and Black Insider episode, Scott Schultze, Connor Howe and I took a crack at answering some very interesting questions submitted to us by listeners.

In case you haven’t heard, voters in a number of states, including California, passed legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state. This brings the total to eight states in the U.S. that have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Check out this map from that breaks down the laws in each state regarding marijuana usagae:

While there is a fine line to draw in the sand when discussing politics and sports, this issue is definitely something that will be in the league’s peripheral in the near future. There are currently four teams in California, comprising seven total NFL teams that are in states with legalized marijuana statutes.

It’s very possible that more states will have similar laws in the near future and that has big ramifications on the NFL and its stance on substance abuse. We discussed the issue this week.

“I think it’s definitely going to be a big issue with the (drug) testing because you get to a point where it’s a league rule where the NFL says you can’t do it, but the state says otherwise,” Schultze said. “Probably in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, it will be brought up...It also brings up the dilemma of, say, a Rams player was using it legally, gets cut and then is signed by a team like the Browns and all of sudden, in his state it’s illegal.”

But, a person’s employer can have rules that differentiate from state law that must be followed during employment.

“The reason why players in the NFL are lobbying for because players are taking pills left and right for various ailments,” Howe said. “Go watch any sort of TV football show and you’ll see even high schoolers taking prescription pain medication for injuries. So, you see guys like Eugene Monroe, former Ravens left tackle, lobbying for medical marijuana usage in the NFL and now it’s becoming legal, recreationally, so is the NFL going to make a new decision?”

Meanwhile, we also received a question from good Cincy Jungle friend, Alex Peterman, on more of the Xs and Os side with the Bengals. The back seven of the defense has come under scrutiny of late, and rightfully so. In two of the past three games, Cincinnati’s defense has allowed career days from tight ends Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Is team speed an issue?

“I think for me, the biggest issue is Shawn Williams versus Reggie Nelson because of what it did to the secondary,” Schultze said on the team’s surprising defensive issues this year. “Watching Shawn Williams as a starter this year and as a backup before 2016, he just isn’t really much of a cover guy. Nelson was a very good coverage guy, so that gave George Iloka to be more of your secondary safety, maybe play close to the line or have more free reign.”

“(Paul) Guenther loves to run those ‘Double-A-Gap’ blitzes, so he puts his linebackers up on the line between the defensive tackles and he’ll kind of have six guys on the line,” Howe said, when pointing more to the linebacker group. “When you do that, it’s worked for the Bengals, in terms of blitzes getting to the quarterback...but in order to run those successfully, you need a linebacker who can retreat effectively into coverage, if it’s needed. The Bengals don’t really have guys who are able to do that”.

If our analyses weren’t enough we even threw in our Bengals/Giants predictions on Monday night.

Check out the audio and video below and join us live Wednesday nights. You can subscribe to our YouTube and SoundCloud accounts, as well as download the show on iTunes and get in touch with us on Twitter @BengalsOBI!