Originally posted on WhoDeyFans  |  Last updated 6/1/12

After finishing a meager 20th in overall offense in 2011, the Bengals have made a number of changes to their personnel in order to better implement Jay Gruden’s version of the West Coast Offense. There will be at least four new starters from last year, as well as new regular role players. And at every change made, I see an upgrade.

Travelle Wharton > Nate Livings

Despite Paul Alexander’s many protests that Livings had the makings of another Mike Goff, we fans knew what we saw: a phenomenal lack of push at the spot that could very easily (and justifiably) been Evan Mathis’ home. But when the Cowboys signed away Paul’s adopted son (bless you, Jerry Jones… words I never thought I’d say), the Bengals brought in a tough run-blocker in Wharton. Being able to call runs in the “1″ and “3″ gaps again will open up large segments of the running playbook.

Kevin Zeitler > Mike McGlynn

After deciding not to re-sign the tough veteran in Bobbie Williams, the Bengals had to do something to strengthen the other guard position. They did so by drafting Zeitler, whom I’ve read more than once referred to as “the next great lineman from Wisconsin.” Significant improvement upon McGlynn’s astoundingly bad rating of -9.1 by ProFootballFocus.com is certainly attainable for the new anchor at right guard.

BJGE > Cedric Benson

Ced did some great things early on in his time with the Bengals, but his production was declining each year as his fumbles grew. And his displeasure with sharing the load was neither secret nor appreciated.

We have read many references to how BJGE’s 3.7 yds/carry in 2011 (and 4.0 yds/carry for his career) are no improvement over Benson. But the comparisons are not true apples-to-apples. In NE, BJGE had no support personnel, just the threat of Brady’s arm to keep defenses on their heels. In Cincinnati, he will have a thumping FB in Chris Pressley as well as tight ends who actually do some blocking. These tools, which Benson had and BJGE didn’t, will make BJGE a better RB in 2012.

Orson Charles > Colin Cochart

I really don’t mean that as a slam of Cochart. I respect a kid who could make the jump from tiny North Dakota State and make an NFL roster. But unless he can beat out Donald Lee in camp, Cochart will spend 2012 on the practice squad or on another team.

Charles brings an innate sense for finding the soft spot in the middle of the defense and the hands to make many of the catches (although like most rookies, he needs to improve at that). Charles dropped at least a full round because of a DUI charge shortly before the draft, even though he had no character issues prior to that incident. But it is easy to view a guy with third round potential as an improvement over a CFA.

[New #2 WR] > Jerome Simpson

Simpson really did not have a terrible year overall in 2011, collecting 725 yds rec. But the problem was that he was so inconsistent. He got over half of those yards in just three games. Three! Because of his propensity to disappear, he could not protect A.J. Green and pull coverage away from him. As unproven as the next guy will be, it is hard to picture him repeating Simpson’s frequent futility, having five games under 30 yds and nine games under 45 yds. Ugh!

Bonus: Slot Receiver

As quickly as we became attached to Andrew Hawkins, we forget that he only had 263 yds receiving in 13 games played. I’m still a fan of “Baby Hawk” like most, but he faces some stiff competition. Shipley continues to on track to return from his knee injury. Sanu has a solid reputation of catching and blocking across the middle. And Ryan Whalen has a year in Gruden’s system like Hawkins. Whoever wants to wins the slot spot must have better results in the middle.

With these improvements, the Bengals addressed every need that they had on offense. Now it is up to new guys to go out and prove what they can do. If these new players all live up to their top potential, the Bengals’ offense will break into the top 10 in 2012; if they all disappoint, they will be roughly equivalent to 2011. But in going with the odds that they fall somewhere in-between, I see a squad that falls just outside the top 10 but, combined with another potent Mike Zimmer defense, is strong enough to win a lot of games this year.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Bubba Watson's caddie owns heckler at PGA Championship

NFL denies sending Donald Trump letter about schedule

Michael Bennett calls out NFL stars for not speaking up on social matters

Nationals make astute move in acquiring Melancon

Son of former NFL player Antonio Armstrong charged with death of parents

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

U.S. Senator “appalled” by Bettman’s stance on concussions

Team USA’s Opening Ceremony uniforms look a little treasonous

Lawyer who reps concussion lawsuit wants to speak with Bettman

Tyler Eifert says he will never play in the Pro Bowl again

Australian athletes evacuate the Olympic village after fire

Russian weightlifting team banned from Rio

Texans GM 'disappointed' in DeAndre Hopkins

Can Andre Johnson end his regression in Tennessee?

Favre opens up about painkiller addiction during career

Miami women’s basketball coach criticizes Texas A&M following slideshow

Twin Cities preparing for influx of sex trafficking during Super Bowl LII

WATCH: Bautista bat flip will be available as NHL 17 celebration

Former USMNT, current MLS forward Davies battled cancer, in remission

The definitive guide to U.S. Men's Basketball at Rio 2016

Tony Romo training camp picture leads to fat jokes, concern

Matt Cullen’s family eats cereal out of the Stanley Cup

Texas A&M suspends coaches for sexist slideshow

10 most dangerous college football defenders in 2016

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Dr. Phil calls out the Patriots for their cheating ways

Everything that's already gone wrong at the Rio Olympics

Amar'e Stoudemire's presence (and absence) changed the NBA

We asked Team USA: What other Olympic sport would you play?

Why Gary Bettman's CTE denial is cause for concern for NHL

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker