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Random Thoughts About the Season w/ Nowhere Else to put them...

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---I see now very clearly that ZT had a plan to manage Burrow's entry into the season - and it was a very appropriate plan.
---That said, this team's ceiling will be reached when they are able to fully turn him loose every game like they have the last few.
---Drafting Chase was the ABSOLUTE RIGHT CALL
---THAT said, seriously upgrading the line to where Burrow is only getting sacked a league average of times (say - 25-30) as opposed to 50+ is the final piece toward Super Bowl(s)
---The two games that Burrow just put together would have been ridiculous at any time in a season/career, BUT - to do it in two must win games against good teams...well. Damn.
---Chase's game against the Chiefs was the most consistently dominant performance I have seen from a Bengals player since Dillon set the NFL rushing record (at the time) against the Broncos. The difference...a crucial win game against a top opponent as opposed to Dillon doing that in the midst of yet another sad season against a team that overlooked them. 
---We all know Burrow is just...different. It's the little things, and the big things. But him turning to the sidelines as Chase ran into the end zone with the 69-yard catch to pull us to within 28-24 on Sunday with a screamed "LET'S GO" was the kind of thing that felt like a football general firing up all the troops. That the defense rose to the occasion after that is...not surprising in hindsight.
---People have said that Burrow's ability to process and problem solve will only grow exponentially as he sees more formations and adds them to his mental rolodex, and, 26 games in, I believe that.
---Add in, he is going to grow in this offense with Chase AND Higgins - aged 21 and 22 - the mental connection he already has with Chase and is building with Higgins is gonna be beyond anything we've ever seen with this franchise I suspect.
---I was still cautiously hopeful on ZT, especially when he finally FINALLY cut ties with Turner at o-line coach, but it is really heartening to see the buy-in he was selling to players pay off. I think he can be a really good coach going forward in terms of results.
---I was much less hopeful on LouA, but good on ZT for sticking with him as it turns out. And good on LouA for staying with his vision. I can see the path to the D being "good enough" in support of this offense in the coming years for championships.
---The recruitment of players in FA about to be HELLA easy. And, we are about to win all sorts of FA battles that we never used to because players are gonna take a bit less at times if all else about the offers is mostly equal to play with Joe Burrow. We were already seeing that, but that's about to become even more so.

Anyone else got random stuff they want to chat about? React?

This is the happiest I have been in a LONG time as a fan. Pre-knee Carson probably the last time I was this hopeful. Fingers crossed.

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I think they'll need to upgrade the pass rush in addition to the OL to be legit super bowl contenders.  Ossai will should help

A big problem will be keeping the three receivers together.  If I was Boyd, I would be unhappy that Ive arguably  become less important, not getting to my usual/expected 1000 yards.  I say this even knowing he's overall been an excellent team-oriented guy

Going to need to find a new starting corner

still dont like Zakky as a playcaller.  Yeah, the go for it worked, but the right call was a FG with 50ish seconds left. 

Lou I like even less

I woudnt say the second-to-last win was against a good team.  The Ravens in general?  Yes.  The Ravens with half the team out sick or injured?  Not so much

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Boyd is signed for two more years. And he’s a team player. Not worried about that.

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Good point comparing Chase and Dillon.   Was trying to think of a dominant comparison and couldn't until then.      He was unstoppable.  

- I think the line is improved BUT much to go.   I think the biggest thing is how much do you trust Tobin/Pollack?   They only keep 9.    So the use of a pick in the top 150 will force them to cut a player previously well though of.    I truly only see two openings for a high pick on OL Center and Tackle.    (You can sub in Free Agent acquisition as well).    I'm not expecting half the room to turnover like last season/off season.   There of course room to improve depth and trim fat but to have a good shot at a starter top 150 is a good bet.    

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Here are some 16-game season statistical bits to muse over. I realize that many statistics are inflated in the modern league, so apply whatever mental adjustments you wish. Obviously some of this is likely to change in a 17th game.

Joe Mixon: 1,519 yards from scrimmage, 16 total TDs
-- James Brooks holds the franchise record for the former at 1,773 in 1986. That is the only Bengals season in the NFL top 250. Mixon might be around 5th or 6th all-time for the Bengals this year behind (as far as I can see) two Brooks and three Dillon seasons. He's behind only Carl Pickens in 1995 for total TDs (17).

Ja'Marr Chase: 1,429 yards, 13 TDs
-- That's third in yardage behind two Chad seasons (meaning rookie Chase has already topped every AJ Green season) and tied for second in receiving touchdowns with Eifert in 2015.

Tyler Boyd: 71.3 catch%
-- Second highest in Bengals history for a high-volume wide receiver behind only himself (71.8%, 2020).*
* Take this one with a grain of salt; it's difficult to fully trust pro football reference on this one.

Joe Burrow: 366/520, 4,611 yards, 34 TDs, 14 INTs, 8.9 ypa, 70.4% completion, 108.3 passer rating, 51 sacks
-- Most passing yards in Bengals history
-- Most passing TDs in Bengals history
-- Highest passer rating in Bengals history
-- Second by a hair only to Ken Anderson in completion percentage (70.6%, strike-shortened 1982)
-- Third in yards per attempt behind Greg Cook (9.4 in 1969) and Boomer Esiason (9.2 in 1988)
-- Second in completions behind Carson Palmer (373 in 2007) despite being only 10th in attempts
-- Third (tied with Andy Dalton, 2015) in full-season TD percentage (6.5%) behind only Cook and Esiason (same years as ypa)
-- All while being sacked more than anyone else in Bengals history

Trey Hendrickson: 14 sacks
-- Most in Bengals history (respect to the unofficial tally for Coy Bacon)

Logan Wilson: 4 INTs
-- Second most in Bengals history for a linebacker behind Odell Thurman (5, 2005)

Evan McPherson: 9 made field goals from 50+ yards, 28/33 overall
-- Most 50+ makes in Bengals history, more than doubling everyone else
-- Fourth-most made field goals overall behind Mike Nugent (33, 2011), Shayne Graham (31, 2007), and Doug Pelfrey (29, 1995)
-- Fifth in field goal percentage for those with at least 30 attempts, and everyone ahead of him had no more than 4 attempts from 50+ (he had 11).

Team win increase from previous season: 4 to 10
-- Second highest single-season jump in win total in Bengals history behind 1987-88 (4 wins to 12 wins), tied with 1980-81 (6 to 12), 2002-03 (2 to 8), and 2008-09 (4 to 10). If we reach back one additional year in each case, 2019-21 is the biggest win jump (2 to 4 to 10) by a comfortable margin.

Comebacks:
-- 2021 is one of only two seasons in which the Bengals have come back to win two games after having trailed by at least 14 points (Jacksonville and Kansas City; also happened in 1981).

Scoring: 444 scored, 355 allowed (+89)
-- Second-highest scoring output in Bengals history (448, 1988)
-- Eighth-highest scoring differential in Bengals history
-- One of nine Bengals teams to rank top 5 in scoring within a season

Stupid stat of the day:
Trenton Irwin has the highest yards-per-target number in Bengals history at 25.0 yards (1 target, 1 catch, 25 yards).

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I made mention during the season that I'm not sure they have the "right" people on defense yet and your description of Burrow is my point.
You can see his intensity permeating the minds of the offensive players.  They know his level of commitment and his expectations.  They want it.
We need our "Defensive" Burrow, as I don't think they all feel it the same as the offense.  Are there some?  Sure, but we need more.

Not Burfict, but his mentality and intimidation that he brought to games.  The offense knew where he was and had to account for him.
I want another linebacker like that.  Draft, free agency, whatever.  Just FIND THAT GUY and get that on the D side of the ball.
Linebacker, Cornerback and Defensive Line could all use at least one player each, if not more.  FIND THAT GUY !!

I want players to be pissed when shit doesn't go right and then go out there looking to impose their will.
LOVE THIS TEAM and yes, happy they are WELL aware of the playoff win drought and talking about it.

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4 hours ago, AMPHAR said:

Good point comparing Chase and Dillon.   Was trying to think of a dominant comparison and couldn't until then.      He was unstoppable.  

- I think the line is improved BUT much to go.   I think the biggest thing is how much do you trust Tobin/Pollack?   They only keep 9.    So the use of a pick in the top 150 will force them to cut a player previously well though of.    I truly only see two openings for a high pick on OL Center and Tackle.    (You can sub in Free Agent acquisition as well).    I'm not expecting half the room to turnover like last season/off season.   There of course room to improve depth and trim fat but to have a good shot at a starter top 150 is a good bet.    

I think we can safely put XSF out of the future picture. Reiff is a FA, and the way they’ve gone with Prince over Fred suggests that Fred is on the bubble. I don’t expect them to give up on Hill so soon but he was bad in the one outing he got and I could see him relegated to the PS next year. So that’s potentially four openings on the line. I agree center and OT will be the targets. I’ll be surprised if a lineman isn’t the first round pick and wouldn’t rule out a trade up.

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I was going to mention trade up as well, thanks Hoosier, as the glaring holes on the roster are not what they once were.
It would appear to be a good time to maybe consider giving up picks to get exactly what they need.

Not saying I'm sold on that idea, but would certainly consider it.  As always, it simply depends on who is hanging around on the board.

I can't just say I would have no issue with this position or that though.  It would depend on "who" at that position.
A first round CB wouldn't surprise me either.  Hell, I could throw LB (you know me) in there as well.

To comment from an earlier post, I do trust the draft and coaching teams in how they move forward.

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Package that John Ross comp pick and a third or whatever the table calls for to move up a bit and grab Linderbaum. Anyone? Anyone?

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52 minutes ago, Stripes said:

Package that John Ross comp pick and a third or whatever the table calls for to move up a bit and grab Linderbaum. Anyone? Anyone?

If I were trading up he would be my target.

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I haven't spent much time looking at other players the team could bring in via free agency, but I did take a look at the current depth chart.

- The o-line issues are well known, so won't get into that.
- I think we need to upgrade the depth at WR behind Chase, Higgins and Boyd.  Not early, but it's needed.
- Regardless of what happens with CJ, the TE spot needs more as well.
- While not being "disappointed" in the DT play, I miss the days of Geno blowing up that spot regularly and living in the backfield.
- I still maintain the LB corps needs more talent. Behind the starters is very little.
- At least one CB and maybe two would be helpful as well.  Apple is a starter and UFA and Waynes is his backup.

The sheer volume of free agents is also a load as well and it will be interesting to see how the front office addresses it.
Things could look very different in 2022, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

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13 hours ago, Stripes said:

Package that John Ross comp pick and a third or whatever the table calls for to move up a bit and grab Linderbaum. Anyone? Anyone?

Pass for me.    There will be bigger impact than Center in the first round.   I would rather target a tackle or another spot for a trade up or really first round selection.  

I reserve the right to change my mind.  If they start saying this guy is Quentin Nelson like or something crazy.   

I'm holding out hope that Pollack has a veteran Free Agent target he can get at Center. 

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1 hour ago, AMPHAR said:

Pass for me.    There will be bigger impact than Center in the first round.   I would rather target a tackle or another spot for a trade up or really first round selection.  

I reserve the right to change my mind.  If they start saying this guy is Quentin Nelson like or something crazy.   

I'm holding out hope that Pollack has a veteran Free Agent target he can get at Center. 

Michael Renner, "The best center prospect we’ve seen in the PFF College era. He was already the highest-graded center in the country in 2020, but he has taken his game to new heights in 2021, earning a 95.3 overall grade."

Anthony Treash, "

BIG TEN OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa Hawkeyes

Linderbaum has simply had one of the best collegiate careers we have seen from an offensive lineman in the PFF College era.

In just two years, the 6-foot-3, 290-pounder transitioned from a defensive tackle to the best offensive lineman in college football. He played both sides of the ball in high school and was recruited to play on the interior defensive line, where he logged 18 snaps in his first season. He then flipped to center for the 2019 campaign, where he started and recorded the fifth-best grade in the FBS at the position (81.7).

Linderbaum was the highest-graded center in the FBS a season ago and is on pace to do the same in 2021, as he owns a 95.3 PFF grade through regular-season play. Not only is that the best of the 2021 season, but it’s the best single-season mark from a Power Five center in PFF’s eight years of grading college football."

He is also a champion wrestler.

https://ne-np.facebook.com/HawkeyesAllAccess/videos/tyler-linderbaum-beats-tristan-wirfs-to-make-iowa-state-tourney/590877045368390/

Yeah, that Tristan Wirfs......

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30 minutes ago, Wraith said:

Michael Renner, "The best center prospect we’ve seen in the PFF College era. He was already the highest-graded center in the country in 2020, but he has taken his game to new heights in 2021, earning a 95.3 overall grade."

Anthony Treash, "

BIG TEN OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

C Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa Hawkeyes

Linderbaum has simply had one of the best collegiate careers we have seen from an offensive lineman in the PFF College era.

In just two years, the 6-foot-3, 290-pounder transitioned from a defensive tackle to the best offensive lineman in college football. He played both sides of the ball in high school and was recruited to play on the interior defensive line, where he logged 18 snaps in his first season. He then flipped to center for the 2019 campaign, where he started and recorded the fifth-best grade in the FBS at the position (81.7).

Linderbaum was the highest-graded center in the FBS a season ago and is on pace to do the same in 2021, as he owns a 95.3 PFF grade through regular-season play. Not only is that the best of the 2021 season, but it’s the best single-season mark from a Power Five center in PFF’s eight years of grading college football."

He is also a champion wrestler.

https://ne-np.facebook.com/HawkeyesAllAccess/videos/tyler-linderbaum-beats-tristan-wirfs-to-make-iowa-state-tourney/590877045368390/

Yeah, that Tristan Wirfs......

Yeah but the talk is about trading up for him.   Nope. 

The impact or lack of impact of a center is not debatable, IMO.   The bengals have had some bad Center seasons.   Got one this year as a matter of fact.

Yet the offense improved to top 10 in yards.   Palmer went to the Pro Bowl behind a horrible center in Guy-Check.    Dalton had his best year behind a horrible Center in Bodine.  Burrow is a long shot MVP behind a bad Hopkins season.  (I believe 06,15, and 21 are all top 10 yardage seasons for the offense, 15 was until Dalton injured his thumb tackling an Int). 

I'm all for improving the Center position.   I'm not trading up for 1 at this point. 

You have to consider impact and unless the NFL is planning on changing rules back to pre 2011 a Center just isn't that impactful.   They are in help mode the majority of the time. 

If he falls to them its a different story.  But at that point I'd still be looking for a Right Tackle or another position.

Hopefully Pollack has a solid vet in mind he can use to upgrade the Center spot.   I would not be surprised if they rolled with Hopkins but Pollack did start Price over him in 2018 and went back to Price over Hopkins in  2018.  So we'll see.

 

 

 

 

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The defensive line play across the board completely caught me off guard. Especially when Ossai went down. I had bought into the narrative that Hendrickson was a compiler and needed help. I’ve never been so led astray by the various NFL talking heads about a player than I was on him. He brings genuine pressures on his own with his own array of moves. We were totally not told about that. If you had told me back two days before week 1 that he would set the non-Coy Bacon team record for sacks with. 14 I would have thought you loony.

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I really don't think there's an above average RT in this draft class from what I have been reviewing.
Some may have had time there, but not considered their natural spot or didn't play the position consistently.
Those that have had the consistency at the position aren't really considered to be above average athletes.
I cannot say for sure that any draft eligible RT is going to be better than what we currently have on the roster.
With that being my thought process (at this time) I don't want anything to do with a RT in the early rounds.

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A lot of times LTs in college are destined for RT in the pros. Haven't looked enough at that crew to know who among that crew is a potential for that. 

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18 minutes ago, ArmyBengal said:

I really don't think there's an above average RT in this draft class from what I have been reviewing.
Some may have had time there, but not considered their natural spot or didn't play the position consistently.
Those that have had the consistency at the position aren't really considered to be above average athletes.
I cannot say for sure that any draft eligible RT is going to be better than what we currently have on the roster.
With that being my thought process (at this time) I don't want anything to do with a RT in the early rounds.

That's been my read as well, and re mem's comment, looking at LTs I haven't found too many with experience on the other side. Petit-Frere is an exception and might be there at the end of the first but also maybe not.

Linderbaum is definitely worth trading up for, biggest problem there is that it's likely to be far too expensive. I've seen him going as high as 8 to the Giants. The Bengals would need to package present and future picks to move up anywhere near the top 10. If he somehow slips into the second half of the round, it becomes more doable.

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Very often LTs in college who are destined for RT in the pros have never played RT - but are destined for there due to length/strength profiles. Like I said, I have not looked at all at the LTs in college this year, but every year, there are a handful who will head to the right side in the pros and thrive even if they have never played there before.

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3 minutes ago, membengal said:

Very often LTs in college who are destined for RT in the pros have never played RT - but are destined for there due to length/strength profiles. Like I said, I have not looked at all at the LTs in college this year, but every year, there are a handful who will head to the right side in the pros and thrive even if they have never played there before.

I know. But I also know how it goes here. That handful ends up elsewhere and we end up with the guy who's completely lost on the other side. Just not interested.

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That's why I mention that "at this time" I'm not interested.
My looking into at this point has only been in the initial stages and there doesn't appear to be much I'm interested in.
Now if this was a year we were in need of a LT, there would be many players to be debating about.  Good year for that.

All that being said, in the coming months and looking deeper, there may be that guy that could make the transition.
I'm guess it's just the thought of getting a guy in the first round and switching his spot.
I think of David Pollack when that thought is discussed.

Maybe it's a new type of PTSD that hasn't been diagnosed yet.  PTSD-B for "Bengals".

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Returning to the random thoughts about the 2021 Bengals:

I've been thinking a lot about Zac Taylor (and Anarumo et al). We've already heard numerous times this year that many of us might need to eat crow and/or apologize for our pitchfork rage before the season, and I have generally kept quiet about that. I wanted to let things play out first. Well, here we are with a division title and at the very least a home playoff game. This comes with some important implications:

1) This is absolute proof that it is perfectly possible for a Mike Brown owned team, or more generally a post-Paul Brown family owned team, to produce a successful NFL season without the involvement of Marvin Lewis. That might not sound like much, but it has to mean something. This regime is now squarely separated from Shula, Coslet, and LeBeau. Any further references to the '90s or early '00s when discussing the merits of this staff are just inexcusable trash from this point forward. Period. We shouldn't let that stand whenever we see it (which thankfully isn't frequent here, but it happens often on other forums).

2) We can reasonably wonder about how much credit Zac should receive when it's so clear that a giant portion of the good vibes follow in the wake of Joe Burrow. Still, that is on its own power a pretty weak argument against Taylor and demands a deeper dive. Is Zac Taylor any good? I think we knew when this thing got started that it was going to come with growing pains. Rookie quarterbacks throw interceptions and take sacks. Rookie head coaches, especially those jumping straight from the quarterback room, are going to eat shit sometimes and have to grow into the job. Most NFL franchises aren't even willing to try that, and I can understand why. There's no guarantee that boy wonder is going to get over those growing pains and amount to anything good, so it can easily end up being 2-3 years wasted. So we have to consider then whether or not Taylor has truly improved. Is there evidence of that? I believe there is. His game plans, while sometimes seeming a bit nebulous or bizarre, have produced the #5 offense in the league. The only game this season where I found myself really frustrated with the plan was in Chicago. Otherwise, even in losing efforts, I wouldn't say I thought the entire offensive strategy was misguided or beyond understanding. As the season has progressed, Burrow has become more comfortable post-injury (and as he has grown himself), the game planning and play-calling have legitimately made a lot of sense to me. This isn't just an offense that has been completely Burrow-reliant either. Taylor has been criticized by national outlets for running the ball too much, rightly or wrongly -- but he has absolutely built (with the aid of Frank Pollack) a viable running attack that has won games. This offense brings a diverse array of possibilities that cannot be easy to plan for, and Taylor needs his share of credit for that. He is a better head coach now than he was a year ago.

3) The free agents we have brought in the past two offseasons have said, almost to a man, that a major motivator for their decision to join the Bengals was that they were impressed by Zac Taylor. A lot of folks are inclined to pooh-pooh that as the things anyone would say when getting a new job, but I don't think that's fair or even true. I tend to believe them for the most part when they say that. So if Taylor has this skill in recruiting free agents and the front office continues to be willing to spend accordingly, then the sky is the limit when it comes to roster building moving forward. The Joe Burrow allure has already helped us attract key names. Imagine then, how that effect can blossom on the heels of a division title and a season in which Burrow's name is tossed around in MVP conversations. Now, instead of free agents merely being drawn by the opportunity to play with college superstar Joe Burrow, they may be drawn by the notion that "I can win a Super Bowl here". Who knows how true that statement would be, but you better believe it will be a part of the thought process. This doesn't necessarily mean that another free agent superwave is coming, but it bodes well. And Zac Taylor has been key in forging that culture.

This isn't all to say that Zac Taylor is a great NFL head coach right now. I don't know that. I still am not really clear on how good he is. But I do think there are legitimate reasons for optimism that extend beyond just the team is 10-6 right now.

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Every year there are 5-10 real impact players available in the draft.  They jump off film and they identified pretty early by the drafting community and as such tend to go early in the first round.  If one of those players fits your culture and fills a need you are much better off being aggressive to get that guy than sitting back and just collecting picks.

Linderbaum is one of those guys, and for the Bengals who have their greatest need as IOL and have few other pressing needs it make sense to trade up.  I think Linderbaum will drop past 15 because he is a Center and the NFL will be oohed and ahhhed about testing results for skill players but will likely not fall to us in the high 20's.  Yes it would be expensive but I would even sacrifice our second to get a guy like him.

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