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Posts tagged with "Cincinnati Bengals"

The Arizona Cardinals offensive line is currently a mess, but there’s an array of available players who could provide help

Things have gone from bad to worse for the offensive line of the Arizona Cardinals. For the fans who feel that the group’s performance against the Dallas Cowboys was putrid, you should probably brace yourselves. If ever the club needed head coach Bruce Arians’ “next man up” mantra to ring true, it’s now.

Starting left guard Mike Iupati’s proclamation that he’s “100% sure” that he’ll play this weekend has turned out to be hogwash. A bone spur in the veteran’s elbow is cutting a tendon, and will most likely require surgery. An operation that could effectively end Iupati’s season, and possibly his career with the Cardinals as well.

The latest news on left tackle D.J. Humphries ailing knee has caused uncertainty. Just a couple of days ago, it looked as if the franchise’s 2015 first-round draft pick would return this Sunday. But when asked about it at the end of the week, Arians could only answer “we’ll see”.

Add in the injury to the recently-signed Alex Boone, and the Cards’ blocking unit has the makings of a disaster. There’s a strong possibility that the left side of the line will feature journeyman John Wetzel and rookie Will Holden versus the San Francisco 49ers. Certainly not an ideal scenario for quarterback Carson Palmer’s health or the squad’s running game.

While it’s too late to do anything about it for the Niners matchup, there’s help available for the final three quarters of the 2017 campaign. Time for general manager Steve Keim and his cronies to get to work.

Former Cardinal Earl Watford is available after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars. His knowledge of Arizona’s offense and versatility make him attractive. The exact same thing can be said of Cole Toner, a former Card who was just cut from the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad.

Former New York Jet Nick Mangold is an intriguing name who’s still looking for work. He’s made the Pro Bowl seven times as a center, but there was offseason talk that he can also play guard. The same goes for 2016 Pro Bowler Jeremy Zuttah, an available free agent who can also play both center and guard.

John Greco, a veteran of 70 starts who played for the St. Louis Rams and Cleveland Browns, also remains jobless. There are also two possible call-ups currently on Arizona’s practice squad. Dorian Johnson, this year’s fourth-round pick, and Vinston Painter, a former Denver Broncos’ draft selection, are the candidates.

All of the players mentioned in this article could provide help. Keim needs to attack this brutal situation aggressively. Before the losses pile up and there’s no point in righting the ship.

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Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald are both running out of time to win a championship. (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

The NFL is back, and Sportsnet is breaking down everything you need to know about each of the 32 teams in the month leading up to kickoff on Thursday, Sept. 7. Today, the Arizona Cardinals.

Head coach: Bruce Arians
Last season’s record: 7-8-1
Playoff result: Did not qualify

Key free agent gains: Phil Dawson has replaced the frustrating Chandler Catanzaro as Arizona’s kicker, and Cardinals fans will be hoping the 42-year-old can stabilize the position and be more reliable late in games.

Arizona also brought in a pair of veteran defenders in Antoine Bethea and Karlos Dansby. Both players are well out of their primes, but could still be meaningful contributors on the James Bettcher–led defence that allowed the second-fewest yards per game in 2016.

Key free agent losses: The Cardinals’ biggest loss of the off-season was standout defensive end Calais Campbell, who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. The two-time Pro Bowler was one of the rocks of the Arizona defence, and his departure will hurt both on the field and in the locker-room.

Another big blow was losing Kevin Minter to the Cincinnati Bengals. Minter started all 32 games over the past two seasons at middle linebacker, developing the mental fortitude needed to play that cerebral position.

In the secondary, Arizona will have to fill holes left by the exits of D.J. Swearinger and Tony Jefferson. Of course, having the likes of Patrick Peterson in the defensive backfield can cover up some deficiencies.

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Our offseason countdown continues with the Number 5 Most Memorable Moment of the 2016 season.

Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Here we are at last. The coveted Top 5. The Creme de la Creme. All places I have never finished in any contest that wasn’t eating related. I’ve been eagerly anticipating this part of my countdown of the Top 20 Most Memorable Patriots Moments of 2016 since February, and I’m incredibly stoked that it’s finally here.

But before we dive in, the list so far:

20. The New England Patriots trade Jamie Collins to Cleveland for a bag of peanuts.
19. LeGarrette Blount runs through the entire Seahawks line on his way to the end zone.
18. A Chris Long strip sack helps to ice the game against the New York Jets.
17. The Patriots defense shuts down Trevor Siemian and the Denver Broncos on the road.
16. LeGarrette Blount owns Byron Maxwell with an epic hurdle.
15. A different kind of Malcolm Go highlights a convincing road win against the San Francisco 49ers.
14. Chris Hogan finds some nice redemption against his old team in the form of a beautiful 53 yard TD.
13. Shea McClellin leaps the line to block a FG against the Baltimore Ravens.
12. LeGarrette Blount sets a franchise record with his 15th rushing TD of the year against the Denver Broncos.
11. Tom Brady hits Chris Hogan for a 79 yard TD to ice the game against the Baltimore Ravens.
10. Rob Gronkowski sets a Patriots All-Time receiving TD record by notching his 69th against the Buffalo Bills.
9. A kickoff return for a TD highlights a historic night for Dion Lewis in the AFC Divisional Round against the Houston Texans.
8. Dont’a Hightower blows up Andy Dalton for a safety to give the Patriots some much-needed momentum against the Cincinnati Bengals.
7. Michael Floyd decapitates Tony Lippett to spring Julian Edelman for a 77 yard touchdown.
6. A Jacoby Brissett naked bootleg highlights a Thursday night shutout of the Houston Texans.

To kick off the Top 5, we go to Week 5, and the return of the Top One.

5. Tom Brady returns from suspension to the tune of 406 yards and 3 TDs in an absolute beatdown of the Cleveland Browns.

Usually, a 1 PM matchup between a perennial AFC Powerhouse and a perennial AFC bottom dweller is about as far as it gets from must-see TV. However, when the New England Patriots traveled to Cleveland on October 9th, 2016 to play the Browns, there were way more eyes on the game than anyone had any business having. It was, after all, Tom Brady’s first game back from his Deflategate suspension. A two year long saga of the utmost absurdity was finally reaching its pitiful conclusion. The world had waited with bated breath for the Pats to stumble, but New England had gone a remarkable 3-1 without Brady under center. Now he was back, healthy, rested, and ready to roll.

One of the biggest problems for the Bengals last year was a lack of weapons past A.J. Green. After losing Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu in free agency and watching Tyler Eifert deal with injury , Andy Dalton was too dependent on Green and it showed.

Needless to say, the Bengals quarterback is pretty excited about Cincinnati using a top-10 pick on a burner like John Ross , who Dalton called “the fastest guy in the NFL.”

“We’ve got the fastest guy in the NFL,” Dalton said. “Obviously that’s a good thing to have.

“Teams will have to know where he is because of that speed. It may level out some of these safeties who are tilting toward A.J. [Green]. Now when you’ve got a guy who can run like he can, you’ve got a big threat going deep.”

The wide receiver class in the 2017 NFL Draft wasn’t heavily heralded, but three guys ended up going in the top 10 anyway. And all three guys should have a huge impact with their respective teams.

And Ross goes really well with Green, as Dalton noted when speaking to Katherine Terrell of ESPN. If defenses spend a ton of effort trying to push coverage toward Green, who is one of the four or five best wideouts in the entire league, the Bengals can send Ross screaming up the other sideline.

Ross is more than just pure speed, though. He’s also an impressive route runner and a guy who can do some damage in the red zone as well.

Combine him with Green, the running back trio of Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and rookie Joe Mixon, Eifert at tight end and Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd providing more depth/talent at wide receiver and there are no excuses for Dalton this year when it comes to weapons. Assuming all of those guys are healthy — Eifert is a question mark and Ross is dealing with some injuries even coming into the NFL — the Bengals did a really nice job reloading on offense and if the offensive line can protect Dalton, this could be a sneaky dangerous unit.

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Will the Bengals return to winning football in 2017? Which game on the schedule could prove to be the make-or-break matchup? Sports Illustrated serves up its projections in response to those two questions.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ 6-9-1 record from 2016 offered a reality check for a team that had made the playoffs for five straight seasons. After notching the No. 9 overall selection in the NFL Draft and attempting to improve this offseason, it remains to be seen whether the Bengals have done enough to get back into playoff contention in 2017.

Sports Illustrated’s Jonathan Jones predicted each NFL team’s 2017 win-loss record and gave the Bengals a winning record and shot at the playoffs. Before we get to what he said about the Bengals, here’s a look at how he went about making his predictions.

In my first year of picking all 256 games for SI.com, I learned just how difficult it is to predict the future, and I reserve the right to be wrong. I made these picks with a few universal truths in mind before dissecting the schedule: I believe the Patriots, Steelers and Packers are among the best teams in the NFL, and that they will profit from weaker divisions from top to bottom. They are the only teams I could give at least 12 wins.

Here’s what Jones had to say specifically about the Bengals in 2017 and how the season could play out:

Projected record: 9–7

Here’s another AFC North team with a coach who could be on the hot seat. Marvin Lewis is the second-longest tenured coach in the NFL today, but he won’t be able to afford missing the playoffs in consecutive years on top of five years of wild-card futility. The Bengals caught some tough breaks last season by losing seven of nine by a possession. Starting the season against Baltimore, Houston, Green Bay, Cleveland and Buffalo could give the Bengals a 4–1 start going into their bye.

Pivotal game: Week 17 at Ravens. This game could decide who gets a wild card and who stays home. Both the Bengals and Ravens will have to deal with a competitive AFC West, so nine wins may not cut it for a wild-card berth.

The Steelers are projected at 12-4, the Ravens 9-7 and the Browns 2-14. And as for the other team Jones refers to as having a coach on the hot seat in the AFC North, that’s Ravens head coach John Harbaugh.

Regarding his Bengals projection, I think expecting Cincinnati to win three more games than they did in 2016 is fair. The team lost seven games by one possession and an eighth game ended in a tie. With a new kicker, added speed and athleticism and a healthy roster, the Bengals could certainly win three more games this season and return to playoff contention. If the Bengals fail to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, maybe Lewis’ reign in Cincinnati will truly be over.

If the Bengals get off to a strong start and go 4-1 ahead of the bye, which I do believe the team is capable of doing, we could be in for an exciting season of Bengals football.

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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton carries the ball during their 16-12 loss to the Buffalo Bills Sunday, Nov. 20 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The website FootballPerspective.com has come to a conclusion about championship quarterbacks that should interest Cincinnati Bengals fans.

In a post titled, “Is Having a Great QB More Important Than Ever To Win It All?” the answer turns out to be no.

When analysts say that you need a great quarterback (or a great passing game) to win it all, that’s simply not true unless they are using the phrase in a big tent sort of way: if a mediocre quarterback who plays well for four games qualifies as a great quarterback, then yes, you probably do need a great quarterback to win (except for, you know, the 2015 Broncos). But in general, far too much deference is given to the phrase “you need a great quarterback to win.”

This conclusion was reached upon the realization four of the last 10 Super Bowl champions had quarterbacks that ranked 14th or lower in adjusted net yards per attempt. That number (four) matches the total from the previous 41 Super Bowl winners.

It just so happens Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is 14th among active passers in ANY/A, but that’s not all.

This descriptor would also fit Dalton, who was third in the league in ANY/A two years ago but has not finished in the top 10 in any other season.

Last year with many of his best weapons hurt or gone via free agency, Dalton’s ANY/A slipped from 8.17 in ’15 to 6.53. His quarterback rating went from 106.2 to 91.8 last season.

Does this all mean Dalton and the Bengals are poised to break through?

Well…. that might be stretching it, but it is interesting to see numbers that make it seem less unlikely than the general narrative around Dalton’s career — and quarterbacking in general in the NFL — might.

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Nov 14, 2015; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers defensive lineman Carl Lawson (55) walks on the sidelines during the first quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Former Auburn DE Carl Lawson picked up an impressive 9.5 sacks during the 2016 season, but still found himself waiting until Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft to hear his name called.

The ex-Tiger was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round, falling so far in part due to concerns about his lack of size.

However, according to the Springfield News-Sun, the Bengals are going to try to get the most out of the talented pass rusher by adding some new skills to his arsenal at the linebacker position:

“We’re going to use him in both areas,” Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “Right now he’s working half as a linebacker and half as an end in nickel situations. I’ve always said the more you can do the better.

“(His intelligence) is very key. It’s one of the factors why we took him. A guy who can’t understand football concepts can’t do the things we’re going to ask him to do.”

What the Bengals are going to ask him to do, in addition to rushing the passer, is cover an occasional tight end or running back out of the backfield on passing downs.

If he can adjust to his new role quickly, he could be one of the steals of this year’s draft.

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CINCINNATI, OH – SEPTEMBER 29: A.J. Green #18 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates while running off of the field after defeating the Miami Dolphins 22-7 at Paul Brown Stadium on September 29, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

All it took was a quick scan of the locker room to remind Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green that he’s been around longer than most of his teammates.

But it wasn’t until last weekend when the rookies arrived that things really sunk in for Green after seeing one face in particular.

“The crazy part is I had this guy who participated when I first had my camp in South Carolina. He won the MVP, and he was here,” Green said, referring to University of Kentucky running back Boom Williams.

Asked how that made him feel, Green said, ‘Old. Very old. I’m getting up there.”

The good news for Green is that that feeling hasn’t moved beyond his mind. Speaking with reporters for the first time since the voluntary offseason workout program began last month, Green says his body, and specifically the hamstring that ended his 2016 season after 10 games, feels great.

“I feel good. I feel bigger,” he said. “My hamstring feels great. I had no problem with that. I’m ready to go. I’m anxious to get back out there and try to have one of the better seasons of my career.”

With 66 catches for 964 yards through nine games, Green was on pace for 117 receptions and 1,714 yards, both of which would have been career highs. He said he was 100 percent healthy the week leading up to the Christmas eve game in Houston, but the decision to shut him down with the Bengals out of the playoffs was out of his hands.

“I was ready to go,” he said. “I ran my fastest GPS time during the practice. Ran a big post down. So I was fine.”

But that disappointment is in the past, as are the Bengals careers of long-time leaders Andrew Whitworth and Domata Peko, who left in free agency. Green said he knows that means there is more responsibility on his shoulders to step into a role as a vocal leader.

“The 2011 class is going to be the leaders around here,” he said, referring to himself, quarterback Andy Dalton and left guard Clint Boling.

“I feel like we’ve still got to be more vocal for some of the young guys,” he added. “I think we’re ready to step up. I feel like we’ll be great leaders.”

Green also said he feels the offense as a whole is going to make more noise with the addition of first-round wide receiver John Ross and second-round running back Joe Mixon.

“I’ve played with some fast guys, but not that fast,” Green said of Ross. “That’s a different kind of speed.

“With (Ross’) speed, he’s always going to keep everything honest,” Green said. “That’s really going to help us. For me, it keeps the defense honest. Can’t just lock on me.

“Having him on the field just creates a different dynamic that we didn’t have here the past couple of years with his speed,” Green added. “I feel like we’re definitely getting a lift. We had Marvin (Jones) and Mo (Sanu) when they were coming into their own and had Tyler Eifert healthy, I feel like our offense was at its best when we all were on the field together. I feel like we’re getting back to that.”

Green has always been cordial and willing to speak to reporters, but he usually keeps his answers, and the interview as a whole, short. Monday he backed up what he said about being more vocal by talking for more than 11 minutes.

When the subject turned to the controversial pick of Mixon, Green didn’t shy away from offering his thoughts, just as he said he won’t shy away from offering to help his new teammate in any manner possible.

“I’m a god-fearing guy, and I feel like everybody deserves a second chance,” Green said. “I don’t condone what he’s done. He can’t take that back. I know he would like to. I feel like the Christian man in me, with my faith, that’s the Christian way to do. I’m going to give the guy a chance.

“You don’t look upon somebody, you help them,” he continued. “I feel like bringing him into the locker room with Andy and I being the leaders of the offense will really help him.”

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Despite national criticism of the Bengals’ locker room, A.J. Green knows he and Andy Dalton can help guide Joe Mixon as a professional football player.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals made one of the most controversial moves of the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting former Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon in the second round. Although he is, without a doubt, one of the most electrifying and talented players in the draft class, he is also well known for his off-the-field actions. For that reason, there has been plenty of criticism for the Bengals, who have notoriously poor decision makers like Adam Jones taking leadership roles in the locker room.

For some, it is hard to see how the Bengals expect Mixon, even if they genuinely believe he has changed, to stay out of trouble with negative influences around him. But, that’s hardly considering the full picture. The Bengals’ locker room is filled with incredible role models like A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Giovani Bernard, the list goes on and on.

And if you ask Green, not only should the Bengals’ locker room environment not be a negative influence, but it will be a very positive one for the embattled running back.

“I feel like we have a great locker room, especially on the offensive side of the ball,” Green told Mo Egger of ESPN 1530. “I think, with Andy and I being the leaders of that offense, we really can help him if he has questions and we can show him the ropes.”

Following the departure of locker room leader Andrew Whitworth to the Los Angeles Rams this offseason, it is going to be on Green and Dalton to lead the offense and help guys like Mixon become great members of the team, both on- and off-the-field.

“They talk about it, but I don’t feel like they have to pound it in us, because we already know what comes with that pick,” Green said of the attention surrounding the Bengals’ selection of Mixon. “There’s a lot of people who are going to be saying it was a bad pick. But, I feel like in that locker room, we’re family and we protect each other.”

That attitude is exactly what you want to hear from a player like Green, who is going to be expected to take on more and more of a leadership role as he gets older. He has never been the most outspoken player, as he has always preferred to speak when asked and lead by example.

Being counted on to step up as a leader in a big way is relatively new territory for Green. Still, Green sees potential in Mixon and isn’t worried about how he will act as a member of the Bengals.

“I think he’s going to be fine. He made a stupid mistake when he was 18 and I think he’s learned from it,” Green said. “He’s going to have to live with that for the rest of his life and get better from that. But, I think he’s going to be fine for us.”

The addition of Mixon could prove to be a very positive thing for the Bengals’ offense, when it comes to the on-the-field potential. After looking extremely one-dimensional in 2016, a multi-threat player of Mixon’s talent should open up the field and keep defenses honest. If he can stay out of trouble, there is no doubt he will be an excellent addition to the Bengals’ offensive attack. With that said, it is really encouraging to hear a veteran player like Green is looking out for his new teammate and believes he can help foster a locker room environment that will be nothing but beneficial for the Bengals’ newest running back.

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Jeremy Hill, Carlos Dunlap and other Bengals experienced their fair share of mess-ups in college. They were given second chances and have rebounded well. That’s the hope for Joe Mixon, too, as he joins the Bengals.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals got more attention during this year’s NFL Draft than they’re used to, mostly because of the controversial selection of Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon.

The former Oklahoma star was one of the most electrifying runners in college football last season, but no one can forget his 2014 incident in which he punched a woman. Even though that was three years ago, people are having a tough time forgetting about the terrible incident and video of Mixon hitting a woman, but the current Bengals don’t want to see Mixon defined by that terrible situation.

One Bengal who knows all about second chances in Carlos Dunlap. The star defensive end was hit with a DUI during his final season of college, which, like Mixon, led to a first-round talent falling into Round 2 before Cincinnati scooped him up.

Dunlap not only overcame that mistake, but he’s been a star in the NFL while being a great leader on and off-the-field. He hopes that’s the path Mixon is on.

“Second chances are hard to come by, but if you go about it the right way and people have that feeling it was an isolated incident and you’re not going to let it happen again, I think in the right circumstances you deserve a second shot,” Dunlap told My Dayton Daily News. “We’ve got a lot of veterans in here who have made a lot of mistakes and got back on the right path. I think that’s somewhat a comfort for (team ownership) and why they felt like we have the right guys to pull him in the right direction and bump him and keep him on the railroad tracks.”

Mixon has discussed that the Bengals have a support plan in place for him and that he plans to get involved with community service initiatives in Cincinnati.

“You know how that mamma dog, any time the little pup gets away, nudges him a little bit,” Dunlap said. “I think that’s what they felt like they have in this locker room because we have a lot of those guys who have made mistakes when they were younger but they’ve learned from their mistakes.”

Another Bengal who has a troubled past is Jeremy Hill. His long list of mistakes at LSU almost got him kicked off the team, but he bounced back from those and has been a productive NFL player while maturing and avoiding off-field issues.

“It’s definitely a similar situation,” Hill said. “Obviously people throw out the word ‘character.’ Not knowing the person’s character, it’s easy to do that. From what I’ve heard from the coaches and everyone who has spent time with him and been around him they have nothing but great things to say about him. I’m sure I’ll meet him here pretty soon, and I’m sure I’ll have the same feeling about him.”

Even saying all of this, it’s up to Mixon to make sure the terrible thing he did in college won’t define him. It certainly helps to be in a room with guys who’ve made their own mistakes and rebounded from them, so Mixon has hope for continuing his path to redemption in Cincinnati. Getting there won’t be easy, but if he stays on the straight and narrow path, he’ll get there eventually.

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