The Cincinnati Bengals are a team that surprised many with the degree of their success in 2009, especially early in the year. The team ultimately showed signs of weakness to close the year before becoming the first team eliminated in the 2009 playoffs.
The Bengals offseason activity reflects confidence in the team’s current state The only significant pred-draft move was to replace Laveranues Coles with a pair of troubled but talented receivers in Antonio Bryant and Matt Jones.
Both have shown the physical tools to be perennial pro bowlers, but Jones’ off-field troubles were significant enough to keep him out of football in 2009, while Antonio Bryant had his worst season since 2003, with only 39 catches for 600 yards as Tampa Bay’s supposed go-to guy.
Given the mediocre performance by Coles in 2009 (43 catches for 514 yards) Cincinnati should come away with at least a wash at the position however.
In the draft they looked to add other tools to help Carson Palmer rebound his very average 2009 numbers (3094 yards, 21 TD, 13 Int) by giving him a genuine receiving threat at the tight end position with Jermaine Gresham, and a nice slot receiver in Jordan Shipley.
With the threat of a running game and solid talent to throw to, 2010 will be a time for Palmer to prove he can once again be a driving force on this team.
The impressive and surprising defense of the Cincinnati Bengals was also given a few upgrades via the draft with some great value-additions in Carlos Dunlap (a late first round projection at 54), Brandon Ghee (late second round talent at 96), and Geno Atkins (120).
All three could see significant time, and Ghee is especially helpful as an upgrade at the nickel DB position.
Ultimately the Bengals look to retain that AFC North classic hard-hitting style while picking up some nice additions for their passing game. They lack the ability to surprise this year, but should still be a solid team that challenges for a playoff spot unless Cedric Benson’s wheels fall off.