Cincinnati Bengals beat writer Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com joined Nick Scurfield of HoustonTexans.com for an interview to preview the Texans-Bengals Week 6 matchup in Cincinnati.
Hobson has covered the NFL since 1987 as a sports columnist for the Portland *(Maine) *Press Herald and as a beat man for the Bengals at the *Cincinnati Post *(1990-91) and *The Cincinnati Enquirer *(1994-95, 1999) and was the GA sports reporter at *The Enquirer *from 1996-98. He has been at Bengals.com since 2000.
Nick Scurfield: The Bengals have been making winning plays in the clutch and look like a totally different team this year. What's been the difference for them?
Geoff Hobson: I think Marvin (Lewis)has really put his stamp on this team as far as he wanted them run the ball and to be more of a ball-control team. He really wanted them to protectCarson (Palmer). They felt like best way to protect Carson behind an inexperienced offensive line was really to establish the run. The other big think that puts this team head-and-shoulders above other teams that Marvin has had is the defense and the special teams. They drafted a really good punter, an All-American out of Cincinnati, a homegrown kid named Kevin Huber, who's been really good early in the field position game. I think the combination of having a top-10, top-12 defense with a top-notch punter and a really good running game and a difference-maker at quarterback, you're going to get a 4-1 start.
Nick Scurfield: Marvin Lewis said he has a lot of guys defensively who other teams didn't want, and they seem to thrive off that. What do you think about that?
Geoff Hobson: I think that's true. He's also got four number-one picks, too: Jonathan Joseph and Leon Hall at his corners, Keith Rivers at linebacker, and he's got another guy that could've been a first-round pick but was a second-round pick in Rey Maualuga, the other outside 'backer who's having a terrific rookie year and is everything as advertised. But yeah, Marvin's right: He got some guys that people didn't want. They've really mixed-and-matched over there with some high picks and some guys who were on the scrap heap.
Nick Scurfield: What's jumped out at you about Cedric Bensonthat's allowed him to be so successful this year?
Geoff Hobson: I think they tailored the running game to him a little bit. I think they do more plays that suit him. He's a rugged guy and he runs real physical. Cedric is a guy who runs with a lot of passion, runs with a lot of heart. I nicknamed him "Lights," short for "Friday Night Lights," because he's the stud. He's the guy. The Texas schoolboy star who stayed home and became a number four pick.
For more of Hobson's perspective, including his thoughts on Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco and his prediction for the game, click here to listen to the full interview in a HoustonTexans.com podcast.