Friday, March 11, 2016

Cincinnati Bengals All Career-Year Team

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:

The First-team selections were fairly easy, the Second-teams, not so much. Zeitler was PFJ All-Pro in 2015. Pat Matson was very strong, one of the NFL's early weightlifters and several seasons would have been a good choice for the Second-team but 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 he did well versus "short-armed guys. Then he smiled and said, "Oh well, can't get 'em all right". However, Blados was pretty good that year, so give him his due.
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 later the Raiders.
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 received from Proscout, 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 (he was First-team All-Pro eleven times), but an award that had him compete with centers and guards as well as tackles for the honors.  Pretty heady stuff.

Willie Anderson had several good years but we went with 2004, He allowed just one sack allowed and two holding calls and was a First-team All-Pro. 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 Proscout, Inc. He was also third in 1982, but we went with the Super Bowl season and not the one that was shortened by the strike. 

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 Trumpy'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'd 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 an 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 an 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, and their yards per catch made them threats from anywhere. Isaac Curtis could catch 40 passes in a season (which does not seem like much by today's standards) 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 respected by defensive backs.

A.J. Green and Chad Johnson are the Second-team picks. Green has the ability to top what he's done already and he's been terrific so far.  Collinsworth is an honorable mention for his 1981 season, he was Second-team All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.

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 the 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 21½ sacks and had 59 tackles and 3 forced fumbles in 1976 as he was named Second-team All-Pro. Carlos Dunlap broke  Eddie Edwards's "official" team record for sacks with 13.5 in 2015 and was a Pro Bowler. "Fast" Eddie Edwards had 11 sacks and 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 a 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, and 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 Alfred 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. In 1981 Williams intercepted 4 passes and had 11 sacks, (though unofficial). Sacks became official in 1982 and for players with four or more interceptions in a season the highest sack total for any of them is nine. So, it was a special season in being able to cover and make plays there and to blitz and make plays in the backfield. 

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 on the Second-team based on their All-pro honors in those respective seasons. Eric Thomas, 1988, is an honorable mention but he may have been better in 1988 than 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. 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. Pacman has been a good nickel for a few seasons for the Bengals recently. Dunlap and Gilberry get the nickel rusher slots, both were contributors to the success of their team's nickel package. Dunlap gets to double dip because a nickel rushers is a separate position in our format.
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, no Bengals coverage player has been honored so we looked at tackles and blocks and other stats the teams provide.

Agree or disagree? Post in the comments section below


  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.

  2. Alot of borderline HOF players like QB Anderson, Riley, Parrish, Bergey, Reid, Brooks at RB, and other good players like Curtis, Trumpy, Montoya, Blados, Casanova, Ross, Williams, Krumrie...Where is the ONE Super Bowl ???