Half a year ago, we posted a handful of "Bold Predictions" for the 2015 NFL season involving the Cincinnati Bengals. Now that the Bengals' season has concluded, we're taking a look back to see if any of these predictions came true, or if they were just a bit too bold. Right now, we're going to look at a prediction that was just too bold, that P.J. Dawson would lead the Bengals in tackles.
Why this prediction was "Bold"
Marvin Lewis has a track record of not using rookies on defense, no matter how high they are drafted, or how good they are. Unless the Bengals are desperately depleted at a position, they typically allow rookies to learn from the bench. Therefore, Dawson wasn't bound to see significant playing time, especially entering the season as the fifth linebacker on the depth chart.
Why this prediction was feasible
Dawson is a Linebacker
From 2005 to 2014 the Bengals’ leading tackler has been a linebacker. So Dawson had that going for him.
Dawson was good in Coverage
With the Bengals playing a lot of nickel in 2014, it helps you stay on the field at linebacker if you can cover. And in college, Dawson was said to be a very good coverage defender.
Vontaze Burfict was not fully Healthy
Vontaze Burfict spent much of 2014 on the sidelines, due to injuries and entering the 2015 season, Burfict was slated to miss at least a few weeks. This was a good sign and potentially and opportunity for a linebacker seen as his backup, to pick up additional time on the field.
Bengals’ History of draft fallers excelling on the field
Burfict, George Iloka, and Michael Johnson were all examples of players who unexpectedly fell much farther on draft day than many anticipated, including Burfict’s fall out of the draft altogether. Yet they all played very well for the Bengals. Dawson was yet another in this line of defensive players who the Bengals acquired later than expected in the draft.
Final Grade? F+
Dawson finished the 2015 season with five tackles, good enough for 22nd on the team.
I'll chalk this one up to foolish optimism. I though Dawson could be the player to make Marvin Lewis change his policy on playing defensive rookies. Dawson looked good in his limited snaps, but ultimately I was wrong.
If Dawson got cut from the team, I’d have given it a full "F", or even an "F-", but hey, he stayed on the roster and played in a handful of games. So the prediction could have been worse – slightly.