While the playoffs begin, the season is over for the Bengals. That means they’re focusing on next year.
Special teams is the only unit that the Bengals’ didn’t have routine problems with, thanks to Darrin Simmons’ coaching.
“We have quite a few unrestricted free agents that we have to get back that are critical, critical parts to what we do here and I think critical parts to our team,” he said to Geoff Hobson, via the Bengals website.
“[Alex] Erickson is one of the free agent he hopes to keep,” wrote Hobson, “along with [Brandon] Wilson, [Cethan] Carter, linebacker Jordan Evans and all three specialists.”
The specialists include long snapper Clark Harris, and presumably kicker Randy Bullock, though Austin Siebert played in the later part of the season.
“He says punter Kevin Huber, who’ll be 36 next season, earned another shot with career highs in net and gross.”
Huber had a great season, and there’s no reason to change things up at the long snapper position. While Bullock is accurate from close range (when both of his hamstrings work), he is 12 for 25 from 50+ yards. He is literally 50/50 from long range.
Wilson is by far one of the most valuable special teams players the Bengals have. Not only is he a talented kick returner, but he is also one of the best the Bengals have in punt coverage. Carter and Evans valuable in kick coverage. They are towards the bottom of the depth chart for tight end and linebacker, respectively, so Simmons’ endorsement could make the difference for their roster odds.
Erickson may not be a fan favorite, but for whatever reason, the coaches seem to value him immensely.
Simmons is by far the most experienced coach on the Bengals’ staff, so Zac Taylor should take his advice seriously.