Archive | August, 2013

Predicting The 2013 Bengals Final Roster

30 Aug

Quarterback (2)
1. Andy Dalton
2. Josh Johnson
PUP: Zac Robinson

Running Back (5)
1. Giovani Bernard
2. BenJarvus Green-Ellis
3. Cedric Peerman
4. Rex Burkhead
5. John Connor (FB)
PUP: Chris Pressley

Wide Receiver (6)
1. A.J. Green
2. Mohamed Sanu
3. Marvin Jones
4. Brandon Tate
5. Ryan Whalen
6. (IR-Recall) Andrew Hawkins

Tight End (3)
1. Jermaine Gresham
2. Tyler Eifert
3. Orson Charles

Offensive Line (9)
1. Andre Smith
2. Kevin Zeitler
3. Andrew Whitworth
4. Clint Boling
5. Kyle Cook
6. Anthony Collins
7. Tanner Hawkinson
8. Trevor Robinson
9. Mike Pollak

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Defensive Line (9)
1. Geno Atkins
2. Carlos Dunlap
3. Michael Johnson
4. Wallace Gilberry
5. Devon Still
6. Domata Peko
7. Robert Geathers
8. Margus Hunt
9. Brandon Thompson

Linebackers (7)
1. Vontaze Burfict
2. Rey Maualuga
3. James Harrison
4. Emmanuel Lamur
5. Vincent Rey
6. J.K. Schaffer
7. Jayson DiManche

Cornerbacks (6)
1. Leon Hall
2. Terrance Newman
3. Adam Jones
4. Dre Kirkpatrick
5. Brandon Ghee

Safety (4)
1. Reggie Nelson
2. George Iloka
3. Shawn Williams
4. Jeromy Miles

Special Teams (3)
Kevin Huber
Mike Nugent
Clark Harris

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Practice Squad (8)
1. Dan Herron
2. Cobi Hamilton
3. Reid Fragel
4. Dontay Moch
5. Tony Dye
6. Chris Lewis-Harris
7. Terrance Stephens
8. QB Signed

7 Inactive on Gameday
1. Rex Burkhead
2. Emmanuel Lamur (Injured)
3. Mike Pollak (injured)
4. Margus Hunt
5. Brandon Thompson
6. Shaun Prater
7. Brandon Ghee

Cuts With Interest Around NFL
1. John Skelton
2. Dontay Moch
3. Dennis Roland
4. Chris Lewis-Harris
5. Cobi Hamilton
6. Taylor Mays
7. Shaun Prater
8. Dane Sanzenbacher

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Quarterbacks and Development

29 Aug

Spending most of my time evaluating and analyzing the Cincinnati Bengals brings me to the routine question about Andy Dalton and his development as a Quarterback. That’s another topic that I think is still playing out, but it also brings other NFL Quarterbacks into the discussion and raises questions about how long it takes for today’s signal callers to develop into their prime.

I tend to believe it’s very early in their careers. Rookie and second-year Quarterbacks are winning playoff games and playing in Super Bowls. Most fans and analysts want to see a QB do it over an extended period of time and by then, their analysis seems outdated. Is it crazy to think Big Ben was in his prime from years two through five and now isn’t an elite QB anymore? It’s rare that a QB develops like Eli Manning; slow at first, then a big leap. But even his play hasn’t been consistent since (and during) that first Super Bowl winning year. Is he still an elite QB? I don’t think so. Same story with Joe Flacco. He was as inconsistent as they came before a stretch of 6-games to close out 2012 where he looked like an elite QB. Is he going to continue to be that guy? Does it matter since he got his ring? Why did those two have such big leaps in ability during the Playoffs?

There seems to be a mythological “third year is the year” to know what you have in a player. Like, all of a sudden, they’ll become an entirely new player. Will their arm suddenly become stronger or will they now be able to elude the rush?
I find this theory to be even harder to believe for a Quarterback with physical limitations. That player has probably made a career out of “intangible” attributes like “Smarts”, “Guts”, “Winner”, “Leader” or “Experienced”. So where can they get better later in their careers? Aren’t those usually the assets you gain as you grow in the NFL? Alex Smith is probably the best example if this. He was holding onto his NFL career by the tips of his fingers until Harbaugh was hired. The new coaching and offensive system got Smith’s head back above water.

On the flip side, a QB with all of the physical talents and a “high ceiling” for his potential, probably has been successful just off of pure talent-dominance. Those are the players where I’m most likely to see a leap in progression. A guy like Cam Newton is, at any moment, on the cusp of becoming an elite player in this league. Or he could dance with inconsistencies his entire career like Jay Cutler.

The Quarterbacks that marry the two are the all-time greats and instant success stories. Aaron Rodgers – once he rounded out his abilities and won the starting job – was an instant success. That’s why I don’t need to see much more from Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson or RG3 to anoint them as “Super Bowl Caliber QBs”. Am I calling them “All-Time Greats” already? No, because I believe that is where longevity comes into the picture. That’s why Curtis Martin is in the Hall of Fame and Terrell Davis isn’t. But who was better in their prime?

How can you write-off or proclaim a player so quickly?”

Because we’re often asked to evaluate on the spot. If you want me to predict the future, we’re wasting time, but I can tell you what I have evaluated to this point. Most of these players have years of college film to add to their recent NFL tape. If you see it in the NFL and confirm your collegiate evaluations, you don’t need multiple seasons to for conclusive evidence. I’m not talking production or stats, I’m talking about physical abilities and innate attributes that very often translate to the NFL level.

Here’s how I see the young quarterbacks in the NFL.

Ben Roethlisberger Group
These QBs are ready very early in their careers. I don’t know how long their peak will last, but they can win a Super Bowl now.

* Andrew Luck
* Robert Griffin
* Colin Keapernick
* Russell Wilson
* Matt Ryan

Eli Manning Group
High draft pick with the talent, but the light hasn’t come on consistently enough. It could turn on at any point and they become an elite QB.

* Jake Locker
* Matthew Stafford
* Joe Flacco
* Josh Freeman
* Cam Newton

Alex Smith Group
You have seen their peak and while it can be good enough to enjoy success, it’s also bad enough to get out-dueled consistently in the Playoffs by better QBs. You better build a GREAT team around them if you want to get further than the Wild Card round.

* Andy Dalton
* Christian Ponder
* Mark Sanchez
* Matt Schaub
* Sam Bradford

We need more tape
* Ryan Tannehill
* Brandon Weeden
* EJ Manuel
* Geno Smith
* Tyrell Pyror

2013 Bengals Offensive Statistical Projections

27 Aug

If the Cincinnati Bengals want to take the leap from Wild Card losers to AFC contenders, they’ll need more production from an offensive unit that hasn’t cracked the top 20 in two seasons under Jay Gruden. At 332 yards per game in 2012 (ranked 22nd), the Bengals would need to get around 372 yards per game in 2013 to get into the top 8 offensive teams. Five of the top eight made it to the Playoffs in 2012 and with Cincinnati’s defense poised to be another top 10 unit, the Bengals could join the Playoffs again in 2013 for the third straight year.

Using the numbers from this offense from 2011-2012 and projecting the new changes to Gruden’s offense, here’s how I see the Bengals offense playing out in 2013.

Quarterback
Andy Dalton has been very efficient in his first two seasons in the NFL. He’s averaged over 3,500 yards passing and has racked up 53 total touchdowns in two seasons. His yards per attempt increased from 6.6 to 6.9 in his sophomore year and his accuracy jumped from 58.1 to 62.3 this past season. While his touchdown percentage was up in 2012 (3.8% to 5.1%), his interception percentage also increased (2.5% to 3.0%).

The additions of Giovani Bernard, Tyler Eifert and a healthy Mohamed Sanu should increase Dalton’s efficiency and accuracy again in year three, but it also may cap his yards per attempt at 7.0 because we can expect more passes to the running backs and more targets for the slower-type WR in Sanu. Eifert is the wild card because he can make plays on the ball down field. If he and Dalton are in synch early, it could help Dalton’s down field efficiency; an area that has held the offense back.

2013 Projection for Andy Dalton
Attempts: 568
Completions: 356
Percentage: 62.7%

Passing yards: 3,947
Yards per attempt: 6.95
Passing TDs: 30
Interceptions: 17
QB Rating: 88.4

Rush yards: 130
Rush TDs: 2

Fantasy Points: 363

Running Back
The Bengals are notorious for being loyal to their veteran, bell-cow runners and with BenJarvus Green-Ellis returning as the starter many are skeptical about the production of rookie Giovani Bernard.

Bernard and Green-Ellis aren’t even on the same planet in terms of talent and running back isn’t a position that needs time to develop from college to the NFL. I think it will only take a few games before Gio is taking the bulk of the carries and I expect him to get all of the passing game touches from day one.
But what about the Law Firm?
He’ll continue his role as the short yardage back and will often spell Bernard to change the pace. Cincinnati usually gives their top two backs about 87% of the total carries in a season under Gruden and their former RB coach (Anderson). The Bengals haven’t been good with rotating their backs, but Marvin Lewis puts that responsibility on his RB coach and Hue Jackson has that title for the first time in 2013. Remember, he hand-picked Giovani Bernard in the draft before any other back in that class. This is Hue’s guy.

2013 Projection for Giovani Bernard
Carries: 199
Yards: 891
Average: 4.47
Rushing TDs: 4

Receptions: 39
Rec Yards: 323
Rec TDs: 2

Fantasy Points: 196 (PPR)

2013 Projection for BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Carries: 156
Yards: 562
Average: 3.6
Rush TDs: 5

Receptions: 11
Rec Yards: 55

Fantasy Points: 102 (PPR)

Wide Receiver
A.J. Green leads the pack again as the focal point of the offense. They flow through him and as he goes, the rest of the offense goes. I expect second-year players Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones to take steps in relieving pressure from Green. Sanu is listed as the other starter, but he moves into the slot (where he’s much better) and Jones goes outside in 3-WR packages. With Andrew Hawkins expecting to miss most of the first half of 2013, Sanu shouldn’t see a bite into his slot snaps, but veteran backup Brandon Tate works at all three positions and the Bengals like his speed. They’ll find ways to mix him in the game.

Green has averaged about 40% of the total receptions by the team’s wide receivers since 2011. I projected him to be around 44.7% in 2013 after being about 44% in 2012. He should double the next closest receiver’s total receptions.

Sanu and Jones may see a drastic increase in playing time from their rookie years, but they’ll see their production bitten by rookies at RB and TE. With more 2-TE sets, we won’t be able to see Sanu in the slot as much and that will hurt his productivity. Jones needs to be more confident in his hands and catching away from his body, but he offers big-play ability and I could see Jay Gruden designing deep plays for him.

2013 Projection for A.J. Green
Receptions: 88
Rec Yards: 1,241
Average: 14.1
Rec TDs: 10

Rush Yards: 65

Fantasy Points: 278 (PPR)

2013 Projection for Mohamed Sanu
Receptions: 36
Rec Yards: 367
Average: 10.2
Rec TDs: 6

Rush Yards: 60

Fantasy Points: 114 (PPR)

2013 Projection for Marvin Jones
Receptions: 26
Rec Yards: 317
Average: 12.2
Rec TDs: 2

Rush Yards: 35

Fantasy Points: 72 (PPR)

Andrew Hawkins (8 games)
17 Receptions for 178 yards
50 rush yards and 3 total TDs

Brandon Tate
17 Receptions for 198 yards and 1 TD

Tight End
The Bengals dove into the two-tight end craze when they drafted Tyler Eifert 21st overall. They now have the two highest drafted TEs in the last 5-years on the roster with veteran Jermaine Gresham as the other.

This offense already ran over 250 plays with 2-TE on the field in 2012 and we can expect that number to increase. With Gresham, you must look past the initial misevaluation. He isn’t this athletic receiving freak we were expecting. He’s more of a Power Forward (Basketball) playing TE. He’s amazingly strong and stout and plays with a nasty streak when he’s on. He’ll hold down the blocking duties and I look for Gresham to be used underneath as they try to get the ball into his hands early.
Tyler Eifert is more of the natural receiver. His hand-eye coordination and his ability to high-point the football is RARE for a tight end. He’ll play the slot, split out wide and come in motion. Look for Eifert to be another chess piece and challenge defenses down field and up the seam.

The tight end position has caught about 23% of the Bengals passes over the last two seasons and I’m projecting that number to increase to about 30% in 2013.
Gresham has also caught 75-88% of the total receptions by TEs on the Bengals in the last two seasons. I’m decreasing that number to 65% in 2013 with the addition of Eifert.

2013 Projection for Jermaine Gresham
Receptions: 68
Rec Yards: 693
Average: 10.2
Rec TDs: 5

Fantasy Points: 167 (PPR)

2013 Projection for Tyler Eifert
Receptions: 31
Rec Yards: 363
Average: 11.7
Rec TDs: 4

Fantasy Points: 91 (PPR)

***This leaves 23 receptions and 225 yards left to spare. I’m leaving those for the backup RBs, TEs and WRs that we can’t account for. They’ll get some playing time due to inevitable injuries.****

Week 2 Preseason Roster Projection

19 Aug

OFFENSE (25)

QB (2): Andy Dalton, Josh Johnson

RB (4): Gio Bernard, Green-Ellis, Cedric Peerman, Rex Burkhead

WR (6): AJ Green, Mo Sanu, Marvin Jones, Brandon Tate, *Andrew Hawkins*, Dane Sanzenbacher

TE (4): Jermain Gresham, Tyler Eifert, Alex Smith, Orson Charles

OL (9): Whitworth, Andre Smith, Kevin Zeitler, Clint Boling, Kyle Cook, Trevor Robinson, Mike Pollack, Anthony Collins, Tanner Hawkinson

DEFENSE (25)

DL (9): Atkins, Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Peko, Gilberry, Geathers, Margus Hunt, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson

LB (6): Burfict, Maualuga, Harrison, Lamur, Rey, Schaffer

CB (5): Leon Hall, Terrance Newman, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Brandon Ghee

S (5): Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Jeromy Miles, Taylor Mays

ST (3): Nugent, Huber, Harris

IR: Sean Porter
PUP: Chris Pressley, Bernard Scott, Zac Robinson

Practice Squad (8): Herron, Prater, Tony Dye, TJ Johnson, Reid Fragel, Cobi Hamilton, Onterio McCalebb, Jayson DiManche

8 Inactives: Burkhead, Hawkinson, S.Williams, DiManche, Ghee, Hunt, Thompson, T.Robinson

Players claimable/signable for other teams: Skelton, Connor, Roland, Lewis-Harris, Q.Sharpe

2013 NFL Season Predictions

16 Aug

AFC East
(3)New England Patriots: 10-6
Miami Jets: 8-8
Buffalo Bills: 7-9
New York Jets: 4-12

AFC West
(1)Denver Broncos: 12-4
Kansas City Chiefs: 7-9
San Diego Chargers: 7-9
Oakland Raiders: 4-12

AFC North
(2)Cincinnati Bengals: 11-5
(6)Baltimore Ravens: 9-7
Pittsburgh Steelers: 8-8
Cleveland Browns: 6-10

AFC South
(4)Houston Texans: 10-6
(5)Indianapolis Colts: 9-7
Tennessee Titans: 6-10
Jacksonville Jaguars: 4-12

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NFC East (133)
(4)Dallas Cowboys: 10-6
Washington Redskins: 9-7
New York Giants: 8-8
Philadelphia Eagles: 6-10

NFC West
(3)San Francisco 49ers: 11-5
(6)Seattle Seahawks: 10-6
St.Louis Rams: 9-7
Arizona Cardinals: 5-11

NFC North
(1)Green Bay Packers: 11-5
Chicago Bears: 9-7
Detroit Lions: 7-9
Minnesota Vikings: 5-11

NFC South
(2)Atlanta Falcons: 11-5
(5)New Orleans Saints: 10-6
Carolina Panthers: 7-9
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 6-10

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PAYOFFS

AFC Wild Card
(6) Baltimore Ravens at (3) New England Patriots

(5) Indianapolis Colts at (4) Houston Texans

NFC Wild Card
(6) Seattle Seahawks at (3) San Francisco 49ers

(5) New Orleans Saints at (4) Dallas Cowboys

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AFC Divisional Playoffs
(6) Baltimore Ravens at (1) Denver Broncos

(4) Houston Texans at (2) Cincinnati Bengals

NFC Divisional Playoffs
(5) New Orleans Saints at (1) Green Bay Packers

(3) San Francisco 49ers at (2) Atlanta Falcons

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AFC Championship Game
(2) Cincinnati Bengals at (1) Denver Broncos

NFC Championship Game
(2) San Francisco 49ers at (1) Green Bay Packers

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Super Bowl

San Francisco 49ers (27) vs Denver Broncos (21)

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League MVP: Colin Keapernick
Defensive POY: Cameron Wake
Offensive POY: Aaron Rodgers
Coach of the year: Sean Payton

Offensive ROY: DeAndre Hopkins
Defensive ROY: Arthur Brown