Yesterday we did our first ever live stream of Game of Stripes on our YouTube channel. Watch as AJ Green, John Ross, Joe Mixon, and Tyler Boyd take on the new-look Patriots in Madden. Definitely worth the watch! Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for future live streams.
Watch the new-look Bengals team in Madden vs. the Houston Texans. Joe Mixon, John Ross, Josh Malone & Jordan Willis. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for new episodes.
The Bengals acquired new players this off-season via free agency, the draft, and trade. These new players were recently assigned jersey numbers. Today we examine whether or not there is any coincidence of which numbers were assigned to certain players.
John Ross, WR | Jersey No.15
Former WRs: Chris Henry, Mario Alford
For me, #15 will always belong to the late Chris Henry. In my opinion, Henry’s jersey number should be retired. On the other hand, I could see this being done as a tribute to honor Slim. Mario Alford was clearly undeserving of the number, but hopefully, Ross can live up to the standard. I don’t think Ross would be assigned this number if the Bengals didn’t believe he was special.
Joe Mixon, RB | Jersey No.28
Former RBs: Corey Dillon, Bernard Scott
Joe Mixon initially was assigned #34, but according to Bengals.com, he has changed his number to #28. Every Bengals’ fan knows that number belonged to Corey Dillon. Although Dillon said he would have rather flipped burgers at McDonald’s than play for the Bengals, there’s no denying him as the best rusher in stripes. Bernard Scott also wore the number and was an electric running back for the Bengals during the mid-late 2000s. Assigning Mixon this historic number could mean that the Bengals believe he has potential to match the greatness of Corey Dillon.
Kevin Minter, LB | Jersey No.51
Former LBs: Takeo Spikes, Odell Thurman, Kevin Hardy
Minter was signed during free agency and wore the #51 in Arizona, but there is still something special about the number. Two standout middle linebackers for the Bengals also wore the number in Takeo Spikes and Odell Thurman. Hopefully, Minter can fill the void left by Thurman that the Bengals have been unable to recapture in the middle since Odell’s release.
Carl Lawson, LB | Jersey No.58
Former LBs: Rey Maualuga, Joe Kelly
Carl Lawson takes over the jersey worn by the recently cut Rey Maualuga. The Bengals held Maualuga in high regard and may admire Lawson as well. Lawson is expected to play the SAM linebacker position. This was a position many thought the Bengals would settle Maualuga in at.
J.J. Dielman, C | Jersey No.64
Former Cs: Kyle Cook
Kyle Cook rose up from the Bengals practice squad all the way up to the starter during the mid-late 2000s. Dielman may have been assigned Cook’s former number due to the Bengals seeing the potential in him to rise up to the starting position at center.
Josh Malone, WR | Jersey No.80
Former WRs: Chris Collinsworth, Peter Warrick
Josh Malone was also assigned a special number at the receiver position. Both Chris Collinsworth and Peter Warrick wore this number during their career. Malone and Collinsworth have one thing in common: speed. Peter Warrick was a solid receiver with a ton of potential and appeared to reach it in 2003 when he caught a career-high 79 passes for 819 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Jordan Willis, DE | Jersey No.99
Former DEs: Margus Hunt, Manny Lawson, David Pollack
#99 has had its share fare of disappointment from David Pollack and to Margus Hunt and will hopefully end with Jordan Willis. Obviously, former 2005 first-round pick David Pollack suffered a career ending injury before he was able to showcase his talent. Margus Hunt was a 2013 second round draft bust that ended his Bengals’ career with 1.5 total sacks. The Bengals likely hope that Willis will become the explosive edge rusher they believed Pollack and Hunt would both become.
John Thornton Bengals Pre-Combine Interview
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of interviewing former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle and current Roc Nation Sports agent John Thornton. As we inch closer to the draft, I decided to share this pre-combine interview. John provided very insightful information on the Bengals’ front office and how they handle the NFL Draft. Check it out!
EPISODE 45: “FOR THE CULTURE”
I am joined by guest blogger/ NSC writer Gi. A diehard female Bengals & football fan who knows her stuff. We talk about improving the Bengals’ culture, the status of Michael Johnson, free agency, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd and the receiving core. #ForTheCulture
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This Bengals’ offseason has been under much scrutiny, but is it truly deserved? Rey Maualuga, Domata Peko and Margus Hunt were three former Bengals who were viewed by most as weak links and have been removed from the roster. As a result, the front office should be applauded for assessing and recognizing key weaknesses and removing them. Listed below are several key losses that should yield positive results for the Bengals on defense along with their new replacements.
I. Rey Maualuga
Replacement: Kevin Minter
Minter is expected to step into Maualuga’s previous role as the starting middle linebacker. Minter, however, possesses the coverage skills that Maualuga lacked and is a more consistent tackler. He should at the least be an upgrade over Maualuga.
II. Domata Peko
Domata Peko has been the target of many Bengals fans in recent years. Although 2015 was a good year for Peko, 2016 was much worse and similar to his other seasonal performances. Even in his role as a nose tackle, Peko struggled with his leverage and was often pushed back and taken advantage of. This allowed the Bengals run defense to be exposed.
Replacement: Andrew Billings
Andrew Billings and Pat Sims are expected to fill the void left by Peko. Billings should be exciting to watch and was considered the steal of the 2016 NFL draft before going down with a knee injury. Billings has elite strength and athleticism and should help Vontaze Burfict and the defense out in ways Peko never could.
III. Margus Hunt
Margus Hunt just never lived up to the hype as a second-round selection plain and simple. Hunt struggled to get on the field, and when he was on the field, he was a non-factor. Hunt never was able to develop as a pass rusher and as a result, the Bengals let him walk during free agency uncontested.
Replacement: Rookie/Wallace Gilberry
The Bengals brought back Wallace Gilberry on a one-year deal and are expected to draft at least two pass rushers in the upcoming draft. Gilberry signed with the Detroit Lions and was later cut, but found his way back to Cincinnati last season. During that time, Gilberry recorded 2.5 sacks during that period. Although it wasn’t much, it still way more than Hunt had. The Bengals will also look to add two edge rushers who will be able to step in sooner than later.
Although some are shocked that the Bengals let Kevin Zeitler and Andrew Whitworth walk, I for one was not. Many argued that the Bengals had over $43 million in cap space, so they would be able to retain all of their key free agents for the 2017 offseason. I argued heavily against this opinion based off of the Bengals’ philosophy. This is why I expected the Bengals to use some of the 2017 cap space to retain 2018 free agents most notably Vontaze Burfict and Tyler Eifert.
Although fans were upset about losing Zeitler, it would be hard pressed to argue that Zeitler is worth more than Vontaze Burfict or Tyler Eifert. During times when both players have been out, their impact has been severely missed. With Eifert out, the Bengals red zone offense was virtually non-existent. The same could also be said for the Bengals’ run defense or defense in general as well for Burfict.
The Bengals typically always attempt to extend impending free agents a year in advance and this year should be no different. Last year, they extended Giovani Bernard and Shawn Williams during the offseason. Both Tyler and Vontaze have been selected to the Pro Bowl and are expected to command significant money in the near future. The Bengals do not want to risk either player testing the free agent market.
Vontaze Burfict will be looking to be paid adequately as a top NFL linebacker. I project that Burfict could command about $10 million per year in average salary similar to Lavonte David of Tampa Bay. Although he’s missed significant time, Tyler Eifert will not come cheap either. Since the Eagles decided to gift Zach Ertz with an average salary of $8.5 million per year with his extension, Eifert will easily see more or equal to that number. Many injury prone tight ends like Jimmy Graham and Jordan Reed make $9-$10 million per year in average salary, so Eifert will be no different.
With around $24 million in cap left over, I expect the Bengals will attempt to extend one or both players this offseason either before or after the draft. They could also rollover money to 2018 to help sign one of the two players as well. Due to the shock of the past two years of free agency, the Bengals could play it safe and extend both players by slightly inflating their hard cap numbers for this season.
I am joined by Nardo. We have a Bengals roundtable discussion to talk about Bengals free agency (Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler, Dre Kirkpatrick Andre Smith, etc.), Bengals NFL Draft & more.
The Bengals are generally never active in the opening week of free agency. The fact the team re-signed Brandon LaFell, Eric Winston, and Dre Kirkpatrick is out of their norm. The Bengals usually avoid the first week because they don’t like to overpay for players. The Bengals tend to become active during the second and remaining weeks of free agency when bargain deals start to happen. Expect the team to be more active this week in free agency.
The Bengals have already been linked to the recently Connor Barwin who is scheduled to visit the team on Monday. At 6-4 264, Barwin would look to fit in as a 4-3 right defensive end. At 30, the former Bearcats standout would be a great addition for the Bengals’ pass rush. The former Pro Bowler has show the ability to obtain double digit sacks twice during his career.
The Bengals have also been linked to free agent Andre Smith who could also return after the team lost Andrew Whitworth. Dre Kirkpatrick hinted at a possible Andre Smith return, but Smith is also scheduled to meet with the Bills as well. Smith would provide the Bengals with a familiar anchor for their offensive line and a stalwart in the run game.
Don’t be surprised if and when the Bengals bounce back with solid signings in free agency during the weeks to come. The Bengals will look to target productive veterans who’ve been cut from their respective teams. Andre Smith and Connor Barwin would be solid signings for the Bengals and would help reduce the need for addressing the offensive and defensive line in the first-round. Stay tuned this week for a projected active Bengals’ free agency period.
Few defensive ends have maintained the consist elite production that Elvis Dumervil has over his career in the NFL. The five-time Pro Bowler who averaged 12 sacks per game over his career was recently cut by the Ravens. At 33, there are several factors that make Dumervil a target for the Bengals. Dumervil’s history of 4-3 scheme production, market value, and leadership qualities could all spark the possibilities of a potential union in the Queen City.
At 5-11 250 pounds, Dumervil is more of a fit for a 3-4 scheme edge rushing linebacker. However, if you take a closer look at his career you’ll notice Dumervil has played and excelled in a 4-3 scheme multiple seasons. Dumervil began his career in the 4-3 under head coach Mike Shanahan in 2006. During his rookie year, he primarily played defensive end and finished with 8.5 sacks in 13 games. In 2007, Dumervil recorded 12.5 sacks. In 2009 under head coach Josh McDaniels, Dumervil was the NFL sack-leader with 17 sacks. In 2011 under John Fox, Dumervil notched 9.5 sacks. Dumervil has more than proven he can play defensive end in a 4-3 scheme.
In recent history, Dumervil has suffered a steady decline since his last Pro Bowl season in 2014 where he recorded 17 sacks for a second time. He combined for only 9 total sacks the past two seasons due to an Achilles injury. The Achilles injury actually began in 2014 and lingered into 2015 and 2016. Dumervil learned in 2016 that his Achilles was 60 percent torn.
In a recent interview, Dumervil said “I know what I can do when I’m healthy. I didn’t have real offseason training. I know I have a lot in the tank, and it was probably a blessing in disguise that I didn’t get a lot of mileage this year. I’m excited for next season in making sure that I’m in tip-top shape.” Depending on how healthy Dumervil is will play a huge role on whether or not the Bengals will look into signing him. It doesn’t hurt to mention the Bengals kept former cornerback Leon Hall after he tore his Achilles twice.
Another reason the Bengals could also bring him is his leadership. After cutting Dumervil, Ravens’ GM Ozzie Newsome went on to praise him. “Elvis Dumervil has been a leader for us on and off the field.” Dumervil would seem to possess the qualities the Bengals’ front office looks for in their veterans.
The market for Dumervil could prove to be favorable for the Bengals. At 33 years old and coming off an injury, Dumervil could come at the price of $3-4 million on a 1 year deal with $1-2 million guaranteed. Since Dumervil was cut, the Bengals could sign him without losing compensatory picks next season similar to the veteran signings of Karlos Dansby and Brandon LaFell last season.
It would seem that Dumervil views the Bengals as a respectable team. After defeating the Bengals as a member of the Broncos, Dumervil told Mike Zimmer that the Bengals were a good team and just needed to believe they could win. Last year after sealing a Ravens victory over the Bengals with a strip sack, Dumervil said the Bengals were a “great-coached team with great talent.” The Bengals have shown interest in veteran edge rushers in the past such as Dwight Freeney. Dumervil would provide the Bengals with much needed sack production, leadership and professionalism to the Bengals locker room and if he is available, I believe he should interest the Bengals.