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membengal

2021 Off-season OTA/Mini-Camp Stuff

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On 6/9/2021 at 3:59 PM, membengal said:

My understanding is the team is one of the ones at 85% compliance. 

guess your source is WRONG. as Bengals is not 1 of 2 team.

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/06/17/report-85-percent-of-dolphins-saints-players-fully-vaccinated-or-on-path/

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They are very close, dim. 

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Chase is awesome. This was fun:

 

 

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Oooooo, pretty

 

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2 hours ago, membengal said:

They are very close, dim. 

I get it, and am glad they are close,, but the point is your comment made it sound like they are already there when they are not.

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Dim - you know I am not a reporter , right? I had read they were there. Sorry that is not accurate. Sue me.

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1 minute ago, membengal said:

Dim - you know I am not a reporter , right? I had read they were there. Sorry that is not accurate. Sue me.

thats why I said your source is wrong, I never said you are wrong ;)

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If you listen to the latest Hoard pod, Lap and Hoard said Bengals were one of three teams w/ 70+ players vaccinated. If they are right, then they would need about 7 more players to get the vaccine to get to 85%. So...they are close, if you believe Hoard and Lap.

 

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Here's the Athletic defensive piece from yesterday, TJ:

Quote

 

People might have a hard time believing this, but the Bengals will actually field an entire other unit of players besides the offense that features Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and an offensive line with the potential to take down the whole operation.

Yes, that’s right, they will also field 11 players per snap (most plays, hopefully) on defense.

Feels like through all the attention paid to Burrow’s boys, the defense has been the least discussed group of players in the NFL.

Yet it doesn’t lack intrigue. The Bengals took a second swipe at gutting the group after doing the same last offseason. If you look back to the starters from opening day 2019, only Sam Hubbard and Jessie Bates III remain among this year’s projected starters.

While the 10 practice sessions were relatively low-intensity and overshadowed, we still observed more than a few developments with the group over this time.

With the help of defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, here’s a look at the five developments that stood out the most on the defensive side of the ball this past month.

1. The evolution of Jessie Bates III
You’d expect to spend the majority of the time focusing on all the new pieces on this defense, but the most notable of the core pieces stood out. The presence and voice of Bates have officially arrived. Part of this comes with growth as a player. No secret here, but Bates broke out last year into the upper echelon as one of the top safeties in the league. It raised his profile nationally in intelligent NFL media circles and dramatically inside I-275.

For a team notably lacking players who ranked in the top five of their position over the last five years, Bates is just that. What became most evident over the course of this offseason, however, was the aftershock of his powerful landing among the elite. It was his arrival as one of the most prominent voices and leaders inside the locker room.

He took over as the Bengals’ NFLPA union rep, leading important conversations with the coaching staff, a centerpiece of organizing communication on the field with three new corners alongside him and even showed up as one of the seven members in the team’s uniform reveal photoshoot.

More than any of those tangible factors, his overall presence has been felt more than ever.

“With every player that’s made impacts, both on the field and in the locker room, it usually takes a little bit of time, and Jessie’s credibility has grown on the field, his peers see it, and that sometimes can lead to leadership type roles,” Anarumo said. “And Jessie’s done a good job with that. He’s had some success on the field, as we’ve all seen. He’s a really good worker. And you know, that, in turn, has worked into his leadership role. And it’s good to see. I think the more leaders we have, we always say when the players take ownership and the players, it’s there, the peer pressure is coming from them and it just makes all the coaches’ jobs a little bit easier.”

It will now be up to the Bengals’ front office and Bates’ representation, rising super-agent David Mulugheta, of Athletes First, representing him in contract extension negotiations. The next step in solidifying Bates as the leader of this next generation of Bengals defenses is paying him. That always draws the attention of the rest of the locker room who will do all they can do to emulate him in order to eventually match or surpass his paycheck (a core part of the draft-develop-retain model that’s fallen by the wayside the last two years and is a long story for another post).

“I made a change with my agent last year for this reason,” Bates said. “I think a lot of guys focus too much on it, but I feel very comfortable with the change that I made. He knows what he’s doing. It’s not his first time doing it. Obviously, I feel like I’m a core piece in Cincinnati. My family is three hours away, so I would love to be here. My main goal is to take that next level … as a leader on this team. The money part of it will come. I just want to win. That’s all I care about is winning. The money part of it will come. Not just for me, but for everybody in this program.”

If you can find a better response from a player entering a contract year, I’d love to see it.

I wrote about how Bates was built for this moment in a more in-depth feature in December and he continues to be as impressive off the field as on it. All of these factors are why this should be the easiest extension the Bengals have done in years.

2. The hope for Trey Hendrickson and asking more
Head coach Zac Taylor made an off-hand comment during a recent video conference about how even in walkthrough practices the offensive backfield needs to be on alert for Trey Hendrickson and Hubbard coming with energy.

The comment served as an aside on keeping Burrow in the clear but stood out as the core of what they wanted to acquire with the addition of Hendrickson. They wanted somebody who would play relentlessly at every opportunity. Anarumo says he’s seen that even in these ratcheted-down OTA sessions.

“You watch him and how he got his 13.5 sacks and it just with great effort, great technique,” Anarumo said. “He’s a guy that’s a perfectionist, and we’ll just keep building on that. And he wants to be as consistent as anybody. He wants to throw up as many sacks as he had last year, if not more, and the way he works in his effort and how much he cares about it, you can see why the guy’s successful.”

Yes, we have seen how he will be successful. The interesting words from Hendrickson, however, were commenting on the defense leaning on things we haven’t seen.

“It’s just different from what I’ve done before, the way they’re using me personally and the way … obviously, Sam (Hubbard) the opposite me, the more we can do the better it will help the defense,” Hendrickson said.

His usage will include the periodic drop in coverage, even slipping inside in certain situations. Anarumo spoke about valuing versatility in everyone. It could prove a risky play, but as long as Hendrickson focuses mainly on what he’s already done with the Saints, the overall plan should be in a good place.

Anarumo explained his idea of the concept.

“The more multiple each of our players can be, the more flexibility that they bring, allows us to do more,” the third-year coordinator said. “So you know, if they’re not just a one-position, or one, hey, this is the trait that he has and this is the only thing he does, we’re trying to find guys that can do multiple things, which allows us to do more on defense. And I think that those guys are set up to first and foremost rush and affect the quarterback, that’s job one, 1A that’s what they have to do. And everything else kind of spins off of that or plays off of that. So if they can drop, well, that’s a bonus. If they’re a really good run edge defender, great, you know, but it always starts kind of in that order — rushing, setting the edge and then the other stuff, the coverage stuff would be, you know, a third to that job responsibility.”

3. Reliance on old and new veterans
The primary obstacle the defense faces between now and the opener against Minnesota will be getting all the new faces on the same page, particularly in the back end. As discussed with Bates, reliance on the veteran safeties will be part of this, but with three new starting cornerbacks, that’s a lot of feel and communication in need of a comfort level.

Anarumo said he threw a lot at the defense over this time period to drop at least a base knowledge before everyone shows up in training camp and they can dive back into it and know it won’t be their first time hearing it.

“We definitely felt as a staff and myself, ‘Let’s throw a bunch at them in a short amount of time,'” Anarumo said. “Even if we don’t get to practice it all, even if it’s in a walkthrough or a sign align, they can at least have heard a call, get lined up in it and we can build from there. When we come back it’ll be, ‘All right, hey, I remember this.’ We’ll just kind of polish it up where it’s not the first time they’re hearing it.”

That strategy works better with veteran players and that’s proven to be the advantage Anarumo thought it would be this spring.

Every one of his defensive backs will have at least three full seasons in the league, which includes projected backups. So hearing a number of different calls and schemes over a month period didn’t overwhelm anyone.

“You’re all veteran guys across the board,” Anarumo said. “They are problem solvers. They’re working through Mike Hilton coming from Pittsburgh in a different scheme to a degree. Him working out exactly where his fits are in the run game and what his pass responsibilities are. They’ve all picked it up very well and our coaches Steve Jackson, Rob Livingston, those guys have done a really good job back there getting those guys to work together and play together early.”

4. Logan Wilson at center of the conversation
One common theme heard from a number of coaches throughout the offseason was excitement over the development of the second-year linebacker.

Anarumo recalled a note he made during a recent practice when asked about Wilson last week.

“I made a comment to (linebackers coach) Al Golden yesterday how well Logan is communicating,” Anarumo said. “And for a young guy, when you think about it, you know, he missed the games he missed last year, didn’t have an offseason, didn’t have a spring, and so, in a lot of ways, this is just a continuation of his rookie year. And he has really, to this point, done very well, and we continue to see him that way.”

Wilson slots next to Germaine Pratt as the incumbent three-down linebackers. What happens around them will be determined in camp with the performances of Akeem Davis-Gaither, Markus Bailey and even Jordan Evans among others. But they think Wilson is ready to take on a jump often seen from linebackers in their second season, and the last month was a great foundation for it.

5. Still searching for a backup three-technique?
Watching the defensive line go through drills while D.J. Reader and Renell Wren worked on the side rehabbing their injuries, the Bengals resemble a team ready to win in the hotel lobby. They look intimidating. They have so many massive bodies inside: Reader (listed at 347 pounds), Wren (318), Tyler Shelvin (350), Josh Tupou (345).

Do they have enough capable of winning in the trenches, though? They need an interior pass rush. Larry Ogunjobi was signed to do just that and take over the three-technique role Geno Atkins filled for years. Beyond that?

Mike Daniels could backup Ogunjobi, but at 32 his production rushing the passer dipped dramatically the last two years. During his first eight seasons, all with Green Bay, he averaged one pressure every nine snaps (via PFF) for a dominant level. Over the past two years, he averaged one pressure every 17 snaps. He averaged one pressure every 36 snaps with just five in total last season. Maybe a healthy second season in Cincinnati unlocks his pass rush past, but it’s hard to count on that.

Fourth-round pick Cam Sample could kick inside, but he’s lighter (267) and would make a more natural fit off the edge.

That leaves the Bengals with plenty of run stuffers but not enough pass rushers. Certainly, none proven to predict future production. That’s a significant problem for a team whose lack of interior pass rush doomed the defense last year and a ton of pressure on Ogunjobi staying healthy while handling an expanded workload.

Meanwhile, a few veterans with the ability to offer rotational pass rush still sit on the free-agent market. Most are 30-plus and hoping to hang on for another productive year or two in the league but could help here. Jurrell Casey (31) and Kawann Short (32) are available as is Atkins, but a reunion with the eight-time Pro Bowler at a lower cost is not expected. Sheldon Richardson was plucked off the market, returning to Minnesota for one year at $4 million (indicating what a similar signing would cost). Such a move would make sense and throw another capable body at one of the determining factors of the Bengals’ defensive failures in 2020.

 

 

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Back from 10 days of vacation - refreshed and ready for football. Looks like it was generally quiet on the news front. Players report in three weeks. 

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Don't see any camp practice details available yet. I think I had read that practices will be open to the public once again as before Covid with the major difference that no autographs allowed this year due to protocols. 

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3 hours ago, membengal said:
Back from 10 days of vacation - refreshed and ready for football. Looks like it was generally quiet on the news front. Players report in three weeks. 

On my last day of vacation before returning to the office full time. Currently enjoying a $10 margarita at Indiana Beach while considering which roller coaster to hit next.

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Decided to do a second ride on the Cornball Express, mostly because the Hurricane was closed. Absolutely great airtime machine but wow the first drop is a jackhammer at the bottom. Hit up the dodge em cars just for fun and took the lake cruise on the paddle steamer. Now at the sky bar with a beer contemplating which flat rides to hit on the long walk sown the boardwalk to the yacht club bar.

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The answer was one, the venerable Scrambler. Almost too fat for it now but I managed to wedge myself in. Had to quit breathing for five minutes but that’s no big deal since my brain died long ago and do no longer requires oxygen. Stopped for tacos after. Beer selection at the yacht club not as good as sky bar but this Four Day stuff’s not bad.

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The scrambler.  A fucking 1970s county fair classic.  

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I like that take. It is indeed fair. Better than those takes that pretend the Bengals did nothing to help Burrow/improve the line.

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If you haven't listened yet, Matt Minich's conversation w/ Malik Wright on Minich's chalk talk pod this week is REALLY a good listen. Malik said at one point that the issue with some of the departed vets on defense wasn't that they didn't buy into LouA, it was that they never gave him a chance. Lingering resentment over Marvin's departure etc. Given that Malik has been pretty spot on w/ sources this off-season, it was an interesting note. Gave me a sliver of hope that LouA really can make strides now that he has turned over that room and everyone there now should be bought into his plan. Hope it is a good plan, LouA definitely out of excuses now.

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5 hours ago, membengal said:

I like that take. It is indeed fair. Better than those takes that pretend the Bengals did nothing to help Burrow/improve the line.

i dont know of anyone whose had such a take....myself included

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18 minutes ago, TJJackson said:

i dont know of anyone whose had such a take....myself included

There are plenty out there. They generally go something like, “ ha ha Bengals are stupid they took Chase instead of Sewell they are so stupid ha ha stupid Bengals are stupid lololol” followed by fart noises.

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