The Last Word on Sports NFL department has been covering the faces of all 32 teams. Today, we will be discussing the 2019 Cincinnati Bengals. The faces of the Bengals are Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and Geno Atkins.
2019 Cincinnati Bengals: Faces of the Franchise
Andy Dalton, fondly known by fans as the Red Rifle, has been the Bengals QB1 since 2011. Starting as a rookie forced Dalton into the spotlight to become one of the faces of this Bengals team. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in his rookie year of 2011, 2014, and 2016.
According to SB Nation contributor, Matt Minich, if Dalton goes down this year, Cincy doesn’t have much hope. The last few times Dalton has been injured, the Bengals postseason chances has gone down the tubes. Some might say the redhead has performed under par. However, while Dalton could be performing at a higher and more consistent level, he is necessary for this team to succeed.
Dalton has a way of remaining calm, even during high-stakes pressures. This calm approach to the game is contagious among his peers. In this way, the Bengals starting quarterback leads by example. FOX 19 Cincinnati’s Joe Danneman highlighted the special moment between the wide receiver, John Ross and Dalton in Week Four in Atlanta. Although Ross missed the first throw from his quarterback, the Red Rifle trusted his man. He went right back to Ross and made an incredible play for the touchdown.
— Joe Danneman (@FOX19Joe) September 30, 2018
Every year that Green has started 13 or more games, he has racked up more than 1,000 total yards. When Green went down in 2018, the Bengals took a huge hit. Their offense was tough to watch. It felt thin as if Dalton had hardly anyone to which to throw. Even when the wide receiver played 10 games, he had 964 total yards. He has effectively proven that when he is on the field, this team has a better chance to win.
Prior to the start of the 2019 season, Green had surgery on a damaged toe ligament that kept him from finishing out 2018. Anthony Cosenza writes, “[Zac] Taylor was part of a system under Sean McVay that produced two receivers with at least 80 catches and 1,200-plus yards. Given Green’s career statistics, these types of stats lines are right up his alley.” While Taylor will likely spread the receiving opportunities between Tyler Boyd, John Ross, and Tyler Eifert, Green should remain the go-to target.
Geno Atkins had 10 sacks in 16 games last year. When Atkins is starting, the Bengals defense poses a significant threat to their opponents. He has the experience to lead the defense and, at times, carry them. The Bengals cannot afford to lose Atkins to injury this year. If so, that would leave the load on Ryan Glasgow’s shoulders. Cincinnati needs this tenured tackle creating opportunities for edge rushers to make an impact on the opposing offense’s pass protection.
In his career with the Bengals, Atkins has been in the NFL top 100 five times. He ranked 36th in 2013, 48th in 2014, 29th in 2016, 68th in 2017, and 63rd in 2018. Many of his peers regard Atkins as an important piece of the Bengals defense, a tackle that makes game-changing plays.