Cincinnati Bengals had one of their best overall season in franchise history going 11-5 and winning the AFC North division. The playoffs were where they took a turn back into their past of not performing up to their talent level. Most of the blame was giving to starting quarterback Andy Dalton who is being compared by many as a Tony Romo clone. Dalton is great in the regular season, but can't win come playoff time.Hopefully several new faces especially on offense can help them advance in the playoffs.
The Bengals had a Top 10 offense and defense in 2013 and with success sometimes comes takeaway. Both offensive and defensive co-ordinators were hired as head coaches in the off season. Hopefully the systems will remain the same on both sides of the ball with minor adjustments. The offense needs to establish the run a little more to take pressure off of Dalton while the defense needs to keep starters healthy and become stouter against the run. Head coach Marvin Lewis and the front office have done a great job in bringing in very good talent throughout the depth chart. Hopefully some of these new additions can help the Bengals advance further in 2014. See list below.
Darqueze Dennard - cornerback
Darqueze Dennard was drafted in the 1st round of the 2014 NFL Draft to bolster the secondary and add some much needed youth. Former 1st round draftee, Dre Kirkpatrick, has not lived up to expectations as of yet. Dennard brings physicality to the position and good instincts. He is better at man coverage than zone. He has good playing speed, but not elite. Smooth back pedal. Dennard should compete immediately for the nickel back position and eventually become a solid starter on the outside.
Jeremy Hill - running back
Jeremy Hill was drafted in the 2nd round to eventually replace veteran BenJarvis Green-Ellis as the power back. Hill is built to pound a defense like a hammer. He is the perfect compliment to last year's sensation Giovani Benard who is the lightning to Hill's thunder. Hill runs with pad level low and does not shy away from contact. He is a load to bring down and built to carry the ball 20-25 times a game.
Hue Jackson - offensive co-ordinator
Hue Jackson will replace Jay Gruden (new Washington Redskins head coach) as offensive co-ordinator. Jackson was assistant head coach to Marvin Lewis in 2013 and now promoted to run the offense in 2014. Jackson likes to run the football and have a balanced attack. The Bengals had a Top 10 offense in 2013 and relied mostly on quarterback Andy Dalton and the passing game. Jackson will bring more balance to the unit and take some of the pressure off of Dalton. Spreading more of the load to other key starters. This hiring could very well help Dalton become a more complete quarterback and in return help the offense be more efficient.
Wallace Gilberry - defensive end
Wallace Gilberry is not a newcomer to the team and has been on the roster since 2012, but he will be new to starting as defensive end. Michael Johnson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaving an opening for Gilberry to replace him. Gilberry has shown the ability as a backup to produce pressure on other teams quarterbacks. He had 7.5 sacks in 2013 and 6.5 sacks in 2012 look for those numbers to increase with more playing time if he wins the starter job left by Johnson.
A.J. McCarron - quarterback
A.J. McCarron was drafted in the 5th round to provide depth to the quarterback position and competition to Andy Dalton. I don't believe the Bengals are sold 100% on Dalton just yet and bringing in McCarron gives them someone they can groom to replace Dalton in case he regresses. McCarron is limited athletically and does not have a strong arm, but he makes the throws he needs to when called upon. Smart and a student of the game. A winner at the college level winning 2 National Championships as starter for the University of Alabama. Needs time to develop and learn the pro game. Could be a valuable backup down the road and maybe even start.