Friday, March 11, 2016

Cincinnati Bengals All Career-Year Team

OPINION
By John Turney
We at Pro Football Journal are trying to pick the best individual seasons in the history of each franchise, which we will continue today with the Cincinnati Bengals. By "Career-year" we mean the best performances at each position, with the following rule: Only one season per player per position. For example, here, we cannot pick Anthony Munoz's best two seasons and use both tackle slots.

Here is the team, First-teams on left, Second-teams on right:
Chart: PFJ
The First-team selections were fairly easy, the Second-teams, not so much. Johnson was AllPFJ All-Pro team. Pat Matson was very strong, one of NFL's early weight lifters and several seasons would have been a good choice for the Second-team selection, we went with 1974. Blados, well, it was hard. In 1985 Paul Zimmerman picked Blados for his Sports Illustrated All-Pro team. He felt Blados did well against Randy White. Peter King, now of Sports Illustrated told Zimmerman, "I was in the Bengals locker room the day that story came out. There was a lot of head shaking". Zimmerman, chagrined said, "well did did well versus "short-armed guys. Then he smiled and said "Oh well, can't get 'em all right".
Bob Johnson
An All-Pro in 1973, Bob Johnson was one of the first big, tall centers (he was 6-5) and played for a long time. Rimington was hurt a lot, but in 1984 put together a good season. Montoya was very consistent with the Bengals and Zeitler made the PFJ All-Pro team 2015.
Anthony Munoz
Munoz had many great seasons. We went with 1986. It was called by Bengals line coach Jim McNally "Munoz's best season" and Munoz concurred. It was also the highest grade he'd received from Pro Scout, Inc. Back then, there were various awards that were given out to position players, i.e. Offensive Lineman of the Year, Defensive Lineman of the Year, etc. They were given out by the NFLPA, NFL Alumni, Seagrams, Miller Lite and others. Munoz won one of those awards in seven different seasons, sometimes more than one in a season. The seasons: 1981, 82, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89. Those are not the All-pro selections, but awards where he was competing with all other offensive linemen. Pretty heady stuff.

Willie Anderson had several good years, we went with 2005, he allowed 3.5 sacks and was called for just two penalties and was a Consensus All-Pro. We could have chosen 2004 as well, one sack allowed and 4 penalties called and also All-Pro, but not a consensus selection. Whitworth has been coming on and on some teams he'd be a First-team selection, but with Munoz and Anderson on Bengals, he's relegated to Second-team. We went with Mike Wilson's 1981 season because he was the 3rd highest ranked offensive tackle that season by Pro Scout, Inc. He was also third in 1982, but we went with the Super Bowl season and the one that was not strike impaired.

Vern Holland was a Second-team All-AFC in 1975 and gets a mention. He was a big, athletic guy who no strength. He had functional football strength but Bob Turmpy's book Trump: Ten years with the Bengals opined that Holland couldn't bench press his own weight, and that speaking of weight, Holland had one. He was fat and when coaches would want him to hit the gym, he's say "Leave my fat alone". It follows that he and Andre Smith are the "fat" kings of the Bengals right tackles.
Bob Trumpy averaged over 20 yards a catch in 1969 and was All-AFL, Eifert made the Second-team due to his 13 touchdowns, but he was hurt some, Dan Ross was an excellent possession receiver for the AFC Champ Bengals in 1981. Rodney Holman's 1989 was a Pro Bowl season, those two get the honorable mention slots. Jermaine Gresham, 2012, is also honorable mention.

Pete Johnson is the old-school fullback, runner and blocker. Lorenzo Neal is the 1990s-2010s style "guard in the backfield" type, a blocker and sometimes receiver. 

We went with James Brooks because we loved his tough running style and his high yards per carry average. Icky Woods gets the other First-team slot. Dillon and Johnson were next, due to rushing yards. For the Bengals we added a third-down back position since they have used one for many years. Archie Griffin and others did well, but Eric Bieniemy (1995) and Leonard were most effective in our view.
Boobie Clark
Essex Johnson, 1973, and Boobie (insert Beavis and Butthead laugh here)  Clark, 1973, get honorable mention. 

Okay, yes, we left out A.J. Green. Though he has monster seasons, in context, based on how the game was played, he has not stepped up to beat out his peers for All-pro Selections like the four players ahead of him. Eddie Brown and Isaac Curtis's seasons, their yards per catch made them threats from anywhere. Isaac Curtis could catch 40 passes in a season (does not seem like much) in say, 1975 but still draw double coverage. He, Cliff Branch, Roger Carr, Harold Jackson and others didn't amass big catch totals in the "dead-ball" era of the 1970s NFL, but they were well resepected by defensive backs.

Collinsworth and Chad Johnson were simply honored more than A.J. Green. When A.J. is All-pro and gets to Super Bowl, he's going knock someone out of the top four, he's got that kind of ability. But we stick to our picks.

Steve Kreider, 1981 or 1983 would be an honorable mention for a third wide receiver and  Chip Myers had a couple seasons that fit that slot, too. In this series, slot receiver or 3rd receiver is defined as a non-starting player who fills a role, a specialist, much like a nickel back or a designated pass rusher.

Ken Anderson
For quarterback we went with Ken Anderson's 1981 MVP season and Esiason's 1988 MVP season. Both were AFC Champion seasons and great statistical seasons, the complete packages (almost). Palmer and Dalton had great passer ratings and lots of TDs, but we went with the MVPs and Super Bowls. Greg Cook's 1969 season is an honorable mention.

Coy Bacon led NFL with 22 sacks and had 62 tackles and 5 forced fumbles in 1976 as we has named Second-team All-Pro. Carlos Dunlap broke  Eddie Edwards's "offical" team record for sacks with 13.5 in 2015 and was a Pro Bowler. "Fast" Eddie Edwards had 11 sacks and had 47 tackles and was named Second-team All-AFC in 1981. John Copeland is a personal choice, playing the run very well and getting 9 sacks in the scheme he was asked to play in 1995 was too good to ignore. Ross Browner had several seasons worthy of honorable mentions and Gary Burley's 1976 gets an honorable mention as a DE.

Mike Reid was a Consensus All-pro in 1972 as he had 56 tackles and 13 sacks. Geno Atkins was a Consensus All-pro in 2012 with 12.5 sacks and 54 tackles to go with 4 forced fumbles. The Dallas Morning News named Big Daddy Wilkinson All-Pro in 1995 and in 1974 Ron Carpenter totaled 13 sacks picking up the slack for a nicked up Mike Reid. 

Peko is a 4-3 defensive tackle, but is a "shade" tackle, one who plays the nose, essentially, and he's been solid for years and deserves the Second-team selection. Tim Krumrie, maybe the most productive tackler among nose tackles, ever, was an easy selection for his 1988 season.

Bill Bergey's 1973 was excellent, he had 152 tackles, which would have been team record until 2013 if the Bengals had kept the stat back then and he gets the MLB First-team spot. Jim LeClair, as a 3-4 ILB got some post-season honors, gets the other inside slot. Glenn Cameron, 1980, is an honorable mention.

Outside we went with Reggie Williams's 1981 season (11 sacks) to go with Francis. Spikes and Alfred Williams round out the 'backers. Vontaze Burfict set a team record for tackles in 2013 with 177 and was named to a Pro Bowl, and should probably be on the Second-team in place of Alfred Williams, well, but he's not. I will leave it at that. Francis and A. Williams were rushbacker types, Reggie Williams was a complete linebacker who could blitz (don't be fooled by his 11 sacks), he was similar to Tom Jackson. Spikes and Burfict are the "complete" type of OLBer as well.

Lemar Parrish and Ken Riley are "chalk" for the corner spots and each had a few seasons that would fit.  Ambrose and O'Neal are the Second-team based on their All-pro honors in those respective seasons. Eric Thomas, 1988, is honorable mention but he may have been better in 1988 that Ambrose and O'Neal in their "career years". Thomas was a fine, fine player.
David Fulcher
The Bengals have had better strong safeties than free safeties, but Nelson was excellent last season. Coach T.J. Troup is going to flip when he sees we went with Fulcher over Casanova. But, what are we to do? Fulcher picked off eight passes, was a factor in the run game, and he was a Consensus All-Pro. Casanova was All-pro, but not consensus. However, from a coverage perspective, you'd want Casanova every time. He was able to play in the box, but was better in coverage, especially Cover-2 where we could take 1/2 of the field. Fulcher couldn't do that. But, either way, both those guys could lay a hit on a receiver.
Tommy Casanova
Ray Horton picked off all his passes in games where he didn't start, though he did fill in for Riley and Breedon (who gets an honorable mention for his 1981 season) in 1983, he was a nickel back. Pac Man has been a good nickel for a few seasons for the Bengals recently. Gilberry and Jason Buck get the nickel rusher slots, both were contributors in the success of their team's nickel package.

As usual, the kickers and punters are based on how they did when they played, not just statistics, so honors are a big part of it. For the returners, touchdown returns and honors carry more weight than just pure average, but the Bengals have been blessed with some good returners.

Special teamers are usually based on honors, but so far, not Bengals coverage players has been honored so we looked at tackles and blocks and other stats the teams provide.

Agree or disagree? Post in comments section below

1 comment:

  1. well John; I didn't "flip out" as David "fat boy" Fulcher was one of a kind in '88, and was the subject of much discussion with Paul Lionel Zimmerman about his strengths, and weaknesses. Tommy C. was my kind of safety, just wish he would have played longer. When the Steelers played the Bengals during the 73-76 there were so many outstanding players, and match-ups.

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