Cincinnati Bengals: Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for 2012
Bleacher Report's own Dan Levy, Josh Zerkle, Matt Miller and yours truly take a crack at the best- and worst-case scenarios for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Marvin Lewis did one of his best coaching jobs last year, getting the most out of what is a very young team, especially on offense. Coordinators Jay Gruden on offense and Mike Zimmer on defense both did outstanding jobs as well.
Now the key will be keeping the momentum going heading into 2012, something that has proven difficult for the Bengals as a franchise in general, as it has followed a postseason appearance with another trip to the playoffs only once in the history of the franchise.
Obviously, the Bengals need their rookie phenoms, wide receiver A.J. Green and quarterback Andy Dalton, to continue to develop and take another big step forward in their sophomore seasons. The AFC North is simply too tough for them to stagnate or suffer any kind of sophomore slump.
A good part of training camp should involve finding someone to take attention away from Green on the opposite side, and rookie third-round pick Mohamed Sanu out of Rutgers should fit that bill.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bengals have what I consider one of the most underrated players in the league in defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who is a force inside.
The defensive line in general is talented and deep. Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga appears to be entering the prime of his career, though he needs to play all 16 games this year. Thomas Howard and Manny Lawson should continue to play well on the outside as well.
The secondary should get a major boost with the return of Leon Hall from injury. Unfortunately, he'll be needed more than ever due to the knee injury sustained by rookie first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick out of Alabama, who will be hard pressed to be close to ready for the opening of the season.
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