Had a chance to exchange questions this week with our networks Cincinnati Bengals writer, Jason Marcum over on StrypeHype. Here are the questions he answered for me.
1: The Bengals have a gem in Gio Bernard are they using him enough?
Short answer: Yes, but there’s a lot of factors in play here. He was a pretty fragile player at North Carolina, and even missed and entire season with a torn ACL. The Bengals have been burned in the past by injury-prone rookie backs (Ki-Jana Carter and Kenny Irons comes to mind) who suffered injuries in their first year that prevented them from ever living up to their potential.
At 5’9″ and 205 lbs and just turning 22 in late November, Bernard’s body still has to get used to the rigors of the NFL, and he needs a full year of experience and working in an NFL weight-lifting program before he’s ready to be a feature back.
But he’s so talented and clearly better than BenJarvus Green-Ellis, he’s like your favorite piece of candy. The more you want to see him play grows with every time he touches a football.
But discipline here is key, and having him healthy for the stretch-run and into the postseason is what the Bengals coaching staff wants.
2: The Bengals have one of the best WRs in the league with A.J. Green, with the exception of Marvin Jones’ game vs. the Jets do the Bengals try too hard to feed Green the ball at the expense of other receivers?
Not over the past few weeks. That was the case early in the year, but Andy Dalton has made it a point not to fall in love with throwing to Green.
That’s a question we have yet to see answered until this team has to play from behind in the future.
3: Andy Dalton is up and down each week, why is he not more consistent statistically.
All the reasons said before. He’s at his best when he spreads the ball around. He’s at his worst when he locks-in on Green.
Simply put, as long as he’s spreading the wealth and his other receiver are stepping up, he’ll continue to play great.
4: Geno Atkins is a huge part of the Bengals defense, but who would be the next top defender?
Cornerback Leon Hall would have been, but he’s out for the year with an Achilles tear. After those two, it seems like you could make the case for someone else every week, as this if full of guys who can be game-changers any given week.
As far as who the next most consistent guy is, I’d have to go with defensive end Michael Johnson. He plays nearly every down, defends the run well, and always seems to be pressuring the quarterback or batting down passes.
The stats only read 1.5 sacks this year, but don’t let that fool you. He’ll make a positive impact in nearly every game he plays in.
5: The Dolphins were going to target Tyler Eifert if they had not traded up for Dion Jordan. How has Eifert been in his rookie year?
He’s been Mr. Reliable as far as making the most of his opportunities. He’s not targeted very often in this offense yet, but he catches just about everything thrown his way. He needs to become a better blocker and route-runner, but he’s shown enough potential to make you believe he’ll rise into the upper-echelon of NFL tight ends soon enough.
As for my prediction, I’m going with the upset here. The Bengals are pretty banged-up with no time to rest, and they could be without their best pass-blocker in offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. Cameron Wake, Paul Soliai and Randy Starks manhandled the Bengals last year, and on short rest, I think they’ll do the same to them again this year.
And as a whole, the Dolphins are in “must-win” mode with their season on the line, as a 5-game losing streak spells doom historically.
The Bengals are riding high after their blowout-win of the Jets and are ready for 10 days of rest.
I see the Dolphins pulling off a 24-23 win.