The first half of the Bengal's 2009 season is in the books, and Bengal fans everywhere have to be happy with the results. Save for a fluke play against Denver in the opener, the only real dud has been against the Houston Texans, who have proved that they are no slouches this year.
Only serious Bengal Fanatics could have seen a 6-2 record at this point of the year. Even those prognosticators who thought that Cincinnati might challenge for the play-offs this year thought that the Bengals would have to play .500 ball in the first half because of the murderers row they faced, and would clean-up in the second half when the schedule eases a bit.
There are a lot of great story-lines for this version of the Bengals, and a number of surprises. I am almost not sure where to start, but here goes:
#1 The play of the offensive line is number one. The biggest question mark coming into this season was how well the revamped offensive line would play. This question came more into focus as their number one draft pick, number six over-all held out for almost all of training camp, and then broke his foot on the second day of practice. Yet a line with two, sometimes three, college free agents has done a masterful job of protecting Carson Palmer, and opening holes for Cedric Benson. Coach Alexander has done a masterful job working with Kyle Cook, Dennis Roland, Evan Mathis, Nate Livings, Bobbie Williams, and Andrew Whitworth.
#2 The play of the entire defense. There was some thought at the beginning of the season that the addition of Rey Rey, and some of the Free Agents that had been brought in would give the Bengal's defense something it had been missing for quite a while, an identity. This has proven to be true. People are beginning to take notice that the Bengals have a tough, hard hitting, fast defense, that is getting sacks, taking the ball away, and making it hard to score. Coach Zimmer has been a master at taking the mix of young players and veterans and making them a unit.
#3 Cedric Benson, this is a great story, a guy with loads of talent, but untapped, and going to waste. He has given the Bengals a great weapon, and taken the pressure off Carson Palmer. While I think people expected Benson to be good, they did not expect him to be challenging for the top runner in the league.
#4 Chad Ocho-Cinco, I think a lot of people thought Chad was past his prime, that his days as an elite receiver were over. Chad has proven this was not the case. He has been a major weapon in the Bengal's arsenal.
Here are a couple of videos with highlights of the first half of the Cincinnati Bengals' 2009 season.