Cincinnati Bengals: Why Poor Showing on NFL Network's Top 100 List Benefits Team
The Cincinnati Bengals only had one player representing the team on NFL Network's Top 100 List, and that is a good thing.
While some will claim that the list indicates the Bengals have a lack of top-tier talent on the roster, that is the farthest thing from the truth.
The lone member of the Bengals to make the list was rookie wide receiver A.J. Green, who came in at the No. 77 spot. Green deserved the spot thanks to his stellar rookie campaign that saw him catch 65 passes for 1,057 yards and seven touchdowns.
Green's impact was much bigger than statistics show. He allowed rookie quarterback Andy Dalton to excel in a situation where most rookies would struggle.
Was Green's ranking fair? Names such as DeSean Jackson, Roddy White and Greg Jennings were closest to Green on the list and, with the exception of Jackson, probably deserved to be higher than Green.
The Bengals had two other players that could make an argument for a spot on the list. Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth had a down year but was still good enough to at least be considered.
The glaring, and ridiculously foolish, omission was defensive tackle Geno Atkins. He was arguably the best interior pass-rushing defensive lineman last season, recording 47 tackles, two forced fumbles and 7.5 sacks.
Atkins' omission should not be a surprise. After all, the list was voted on by the players in the NFL themselves, and that is exactly why the Bengals should be happy to not appear on the list more often.
Take a closer look at the now infamous list. Quarterback Tim Tebow made the list despite having a mediocre season. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had a ridiculous ranking, coming in at No. 38 overall despite only recording four sacks a year ago. Peyton Manning made the list despite not playing a down at all last year.
We could go on and on. But what do these players have in common? They are big names, for good or bad, and are media darlings to boot. Even when more worthy players should have been selected, the players voted for peers who are popular and have high name-recognition.
With a few exceptions, making this list in any capacity seems to have the same requirements and impact as making the Pro Bowl—it is a popularity contest, and it really means nothing. Not that we should have expected anything more from a list voted on by the players themselves.
This means that the Bengals are once again flying under the radar heading into the 2012 season. That is something that works in the Bengals' favor, as playing the underdog is always something the team has been successful in doing.
The lack of representatives on the list also indicate the days of me-first players and divas littering the roster are finally over. There are no selfish players left in the Bengals locker room, and the young team is buying into head coach Marvin Lewis' system.
While the rest of the league and its players continue to underrate what is happening in Cincinnati, the Bengals organization and its fans likely don't mind.
Receiving individual accolades and making pointless lists are nice, but the youthful squad in Cincinnati quietly has its goals aimed much, much higher in 2012.
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