For much of the past two decades, Cincinnati Bengals fans have had to endure as much mediocrity and bad football as any NFL fan base. The franchise once known for its strong roots and dedication to winning under the ownership of Paul Brown had become a laughingstock, as they went fourteen years and 224 games in between (1991–2004) with a record of 71-153, a 0.317 winning percentage.
This was due to many different things, including major draft busts (Ki Jana Carter, Akili Smith, David Klingler), not resigning their best free agents (Jeff Blake, traded Boomer Esiason), and spending their money on players who were looking to cash in and subsequently flame out (Antonio Bryant).
They also routinely drafted players who were dubbed “high-risk, high-reward”, the kind of players with loads of talents but even more character problems.
This was all done under the ownership of one Mike Brown, who has acted as the team’s General Manager ever since he took over ownership of the franchise in 1991.He was the one responsible for giving the “ok” to these moves, and was often the one directly making them.
But over the past five seasons, the Bengals have begun distancing themselves from character-concern players, both in free agency and the NFL Draft. They’ve in turn scouted, drafted, and eventually developed prospects better and into a team now hoping to contend for a Super Bowl. They’ve done the same in free agency, signing guys who were solid, veteran leaders, and could help develop the younger generation of players, and because of this approach, they now have a team projected to make the postseason for a third-straight season, which would be the first time that’s happened in franchise history.
Behind the scenes, there was a belief that Brown had finally relinquished his GM powers to people who were far more capable at making good football-related decisions. It was thought, though never confirmed, that Brown had given more roles and privileges to head coach Marvin Lewis, and left he and his staff with the final say as to who the team scouts, drafts, signs, and keeps.