3. Split Statistics
A very strong eight-man defensive rotation, a huge competition at wide receiver and a stout running back committee sound great to coaches and fans alike. And when you are winning, it sounds good to players too. What doesn’t sound good to a professional athlete should a team rack up a few losses is splitting statistics. Like it or not, statistics are a player’s resume in the NFL, and the identity of the Bengals as a criminal half-way home may not be the easiest shift into a mentality that more closely resembles New England’s ‘The Patriot Way’. Doing it in only a season or two is even more ambitious. While clearing house was exactly what the doctor ordered in Cincinnati, the new team nucleus is in its developmental phase and in inception is a fragile thing. If bracketed by winning and professionalism, a new culture can immerge that can endure for decades. If improperly supervised or clouded by failure, another dark decade could be at hand.
Thankfully the Bengals are very young and nearly all of the established egos have been excommunicated from the fold. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any lurking on the team. A player with a perception of being slighted is cancerous in a locker room unless marginalized and that is on team leadership and the coaches. Therein is one of the most intangible natures being a championship caliber franchise, and while New England and Pittsburgh have it in spades, Cincinnati has been routinely ranked by ESPN and Sports Illustrated as one of the most broken organizations in sports. The challenge of depth at position throughout a roster is managing morale, something the Bengals have almost no experience in.