Paging Mr. Haley, paging Mr. Todd Haley.
The Cincinnati Bengals have ruled out starting cornerback Terence Newman for tonight’s game according to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Wilkening. Not only will the Bengals have to take the field without Newman, they have also been without their best cornerback in the form of Leon Hall since late October due to an Achilles injury.
With Adam Jones and the inexperienced Dre Kirkpatrick and Brandon Ghee expected to shoulder the load with the starters absent tonight, Pittsburgh’s offense could have some tremendous matchup advantages to exploit in the passing game.
Armed with a trio of productive and experienced receivers in the form of Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery, it would be nothing short of moronic for Todd Haley to not turn Ben Roethlisberger loose through the air this evening.
Although the Bengals are tied for seventh in the league in passing yards allowed, Jones is the only cornerback who will be at Cincinnati’s disposal who has started a game at the professional level. As one of the league’s most underrated trios, Brown, Sanders and Cotchery have combined for 189 receptions, 2,476 yards and 21 touchdown receptions during Pittsburgh’s 5-8 start.
While Brown will likely be shadowed by the experienced Jones, Roethlisberger could find plenty of success looking in the directions of Sanders and Cotchery against Kirkpatrick and Ghee. If the Bengals try to provide linebacker and safety help to their two young cornerbacks, then I am sure that Roethlisberger would find no trouble carving the middle of Cincinnati’s defense with the likes of the reliable. Heath Miller and Le’Veon Bell.
Even without Geno Atkins, the strength of the Bengals’ defense is their front-four. Moreover, keeping Cincinnati’s stout pass rush at bay (36.0 sacks, rank tied for 11th) will be no easy task for the Steelers and their makeshift offensive line.
Nevertheless, it would be wise for Pittsburgh’s offense to utilize their most effective personnel to make the Bengals’ back-seven uncomfortable and out-of-sync as early as possible. With Hall and Newman sidelined, it does not take a professional offensive coordinator to see that yards could be ripe for the plundering through the air.
So please, Mr. Haley. Let your Pro Bowl quarterback sling the ball around Heinz Field and challenge the Bengals’ replacement cornerbacks. Who knows? It could lead to some positive results.
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