Football Outsiders devotes a lengthy piece to breaking down our stud corners and how Zimmer also creates defenses that put them (and the rest of the defense) in position to succeed. Here's the link. Basically, the Bengals defend the top 2 receivers on the opposing team as well as anyone in the NFL.
The problem? We are dead last at defending any receiver beyond the first 2 if one exists (think those dump off crossing patterns where the Vikings gained lots of yards). And that means we caught a break that Percy Harvin wasn't in the game and we still lost by 20. Hmmmm.
Key passages from the article. This:
I counted five specific targets to Hall, and six to Joseph. The five to Hall netted Favre four completions for 30 yards and an interception, and the six to Joseph saw Favre go one-for-six for seven yards. Both corners are excellent on deep outs, good at adjusting to route reads, and Hall specifically is good at taking his man out of the play on angular routes. Favre would hit his receivers on underneath stuff when Hall and Joseph were playing off, but they are both sure tacklers as well, which compounds the problems for enemy quarterbacks.
(talking about Vikings formations) The Bengals know how to adjust to this stuff in ways the current Seahawks staff couldn't even comprehend...when your cornerbacks cover with man-on-man ability and understand how to eliminate areas of the field with zone concepts (the deep safety adjusting to the ball), that's a dangerous combination. It's a credit to Zimmer that when you watch this team, you realize that it's not just about Joseph and Hall running around in half-baked schemes -- these are talented players put in positions to succeed by good coaches.
The Bengals would do well to find a way to keep two of these three people at least for a few more years. Sadly, top corners get huge money. Both Hall and Joseph probably fall in the top 10 list of all CBs and contracts start at around $8.5 million per year for those elite guys.
Zimmer, well, let's just say he'll get some attention too.