I had an opportunity to interview Nate Wilkinson, the lead blogger over at Stripe Hype, Fansided’s Cincinnati Bengals blog. He was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions about the Bengals and help us preview today’s match-up in Cincinnati.
1.) How safe is Carson Palmer’s job? I’ve read there are beginning to be rumblings about whether or not he’s a winner and he’s thrown some costly picks so far this year. Do Bengals fans still believe Palmer is an elite quarterback or is it time to start looking for a replacement?
Carson Palmer’s job is safe. He may not be the same quarterback as he was before knee and elbow injuries, but he’s still pretty good overall somewhere near the league’s 10 best quarterbacks. If the line is blocking and the receivers are catching – which hasn’t always happened – Palmer will put up good numbers. I think most Bengals fans believe he has declined a bit, but I also think that he’s significantly better than any of the alternatives out there.
2.) What is the temperature of Marvin Lewis’ seat and what is the likelihood that Lewis is still the coach come next season?
Marvin Lewis’ seat is getting pretty hot. Cincinnati expected to be very good this year and even invested some serious money in its effort to return to the playoffs. The tea has underachieved thus far and discipline and game management – which are functions of the head coach – have been a problem. With no contract extension already in place, Lewis could be in trouble if things continue southward. And he may be sick of working for Bengals owner Mike Brown at this point anyway.
3.) So far on the season the Bengals have tallied just six sacks? What do you attribute that to? Lack of ability on the defensive line? No rush from the linebackers? Poor scheme? How come you guys can’t bring down the passer?
The absence of a pass rush results from a number of factors. The Bengals have rarely had the lead and haven’t forced a large number of third-and-long or obvious passing situations. The players deserve some of the blame too. The pass rush has been one of the biggest failures of this season. Look for more blitzing and more time for the Bengals’ youngsters (Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap) in the coming weeks.
4.) There have been a few meltdowns in the secondary this season despite having what seems to be a solid group of guys back there. Is that more pass rush-related or the result of actual problems in the secondary?
The secondary hasn’t played up to the same level as last year, but without a pass rush that’s a pretty tough task. There have been some injury issues as well. Last week in Atlanta, the team was playing without two starters (Jonathan Joseph and Roy Williams).
5.) What do the Bengals have to do to beat Miami and what do you predict the score to be?
Cincinnati has to play better against the run, contain Brandon Marshall and pressure Chad Henne to win. They also need to be more efficient on third down and in the red zone. The team also needs to avoid the penalties that have doomed them all season. Cincinnati has been pretty good at home lately – with the exception of the Buccaneers debacle – but I’m still not sure they can get the win here. I’d give it to the Dolphins at like 24- 20, but I hope I’m wrong.