We've gotten our Five Good Questions completed for this week with our friends over at Cincy Jungle. CJ writer "whodeyfans" and I exchanged the questions for this week and, after a bit of a delay, here they are. You can see the answers I gave to his questions right here.
1) Minnesota has had plenty of issues at the quarterback position, as everyone knows. The Bengals appear to have their guy in Andy Dalton, who was drafted in the same year as Christian Ponder. What's the general consensus in Bengal Land on the Red Rifle?
Jury is still out on Dalton. Where I personally think he can be the right guy for the job, there are parts of Bengaldom that want the Bengals to draft a quarterback early. The thing with Dalton is consistency. At times he plays with the best quarterbacks in the league. At other times he is throwing pick sixes like he is Matt Schaub.
A lot of Dalton's issues come when the offensive line fails to give him protection. If the Bengals can give the Red Rifle time, he can compete with anyone.
2) The Bengals' defense has continued to be one of the best in the NFL despite suffering a number of injuries, notably to Leon Hall and Geno Atkins. How has the defense managed to maintain a high level of play despite those losses?
It has to be the defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer right? Part of a good defense is talent, the other is scheme. Zimmer seems like he has the knack for getting the right guys in the right position to make plays. The biggest fear with him though is when some team will snatch him for a head coaching position.
3) The Vikings are, in all likelihood, going to be looking for a new coach this off-season, and one of the names that has come up has been Bengals' offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. How would you describe the Bengals' offense under Gruden?
Gruden is a name that has come up many times for coaching vacancies. I think the relation to another successful coach may help to move the name up some lists. However, Gruden at times has been baffling to Bengal fans. In the playoff game last season the Bengals came out with a game plan that pretty much ignored A.J Green for the entire first half. When you talk about the ultimate misdirection, I don't think anyone thought a team would come out and choose to take the best player on the field out of the game.
At other times you see a coordinator that makes adjustments when needed and the Bengals score 17 unanswered points against the Packers. He may be a great head coach, but I would like to see more consistency before I made my decision.
4) How much has the addition of rookie running back Giovanni Bernard meant to the Cincinnati offense?
About 1 yard per play. I recently read a stat where the Bengals average 1 yard per play more when Bernard is on the field compared to Benjarvus Green-Ellis. 1 yard may not seem like much, but over the course of a game that could be 50+ yds better than if he was not on the field.
When he is out there a defense does not know if the Bengals are going to run him or swing him out for a pass and this keeps the defense guessing and spread out. The Bengals have lacked a home run hitter in the back field and may have found one with Bernard. So he is a huge part of this offense that will only get bigger as he improves as a pro.
5) Give us one guy on each side of the ball that Vikings' fans might not be really familiar with that will have an impact on Sunday's contest.
On offense I am going to tell you about a guy named Anthony Collins. When the Bengals left guard was lost to injury, they moved their pro-bowl left tackle in as guard and replaced him with Anthony Collins. For a guy who is bench depth to be trusted to come in and handle the left tackle responsibilities he must have some talent. Not only does Collins fill the role well, in his first start as a fill in he kept Julius Peppers off the stat sheet.
On defense the Bengals have George Iloka. The young safety has been a big part of the Bengals secondary and shows up big in stopping the run. I feel he is going to have an impact game if Adrian Peterson plays. Iloka is the kind of guy that can close and stop someone like Peterson from breaking huge runs.