While there have been some brights spots for the Bengals thus far, injuries and recurring weaknesses still haunt the organization. Roster cuts so far have not been notable with so many players headed to injured reserve.
This week, we'll talk the weakened offensive line, the signing of Jeff Faine and the prospects of the Bengals moving from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. Let's get started:
@chris_roling With all the injuries to the Bengals how do you think the offensive line will hold up this year without Cook and a young core?— Serenity Bishop (@BossLifeBishop) August 30, 2012
Great question! Offensive line is my biggest concern for the team at this point with a rookie at right guard, the loss of Cook and the sometimes erratic play of Andrew Whitworth recently.
Cook being out hurts, especially with his potential still being seemingly high. Jeff Faine is a solid veteran, but how quickly he can come in and not only learn the system but develop chemistry with the men in the trenches around him is something I will be watching very closely.
I believe in the end the offensive line will be about as good as last year's unit, which is not exactly a ringing endorsement. Kevin Zeitler will have his rookie mistakes, and Clint Boling is still a work in progress.
The best player on the line in 2012 could go to Andre Smith, if I had to guess, since he is playing for an new contract. Outside of that, the Bengals simply cannot suffer any more injuries on the line.
@chris_roling what can we expect from Faine?How's he grade in run game/pass game?— Court Street Grill (@OhioJukeJoint) August 30, 2012
Jeff Faine was an interesting pick for the Bengals to me. He got scooped up thanks to his familiarity with Jay Gruden and the experience in the system, but he is a drop-off from Kyle Cook.
A former first-round pick, Faine is now one of the older players on the Bengals' offensive roster and has been hailed for his football smarts on the field. He's been the captain on several other teams, so his leadership factor is a nice boost for the locker room.
On the field he is a better pass-blocker than Cook, but worse in the run game. Good news for Andy Dalton; horrible news for the ridiculously lousy running attack the Bengals have put on the field so far.
Faine likely won't blow us away on the field, but he's a nice stop-gap as the quarterback of the offensive line for the time being.
@chris_roling do you ever see bengals moving to a 3-4?— Sean Thorfinnson (@mtnsean) August 30, 2012
I think if we see any 3-4 in the Bengals' future it will only be sporadically to give opposing teams a different look. Mike Zimmer is mostly known for his tenacious 4-3 (with the exception being his implementing it in Dallas in '05), and as long as he sticks around, I can't see a change happening permanently.
A nice combination of the two fronts will work well for the Bengals because of the great versatility of the defensive linemen and the incredible depth at the linebacker spots. It's a pretty safe bet that with the roster the organization has assembled, a lot of different looks could be happening this year.
Want to participate and have your question featured in the mailbag next week? Hit the button below to follow me on Twitter and send me your questions every Wednesday!