That sound you hear is a roaring Niagra of orange Kool-Ade pouring over the edge of Bandwagon Falls. First came the Cryptkeeper, who calls Cincinnati a potential surprise team.
"I might not buy Chad Ochocinco’s playoff guarantee, but I guarantee the Bengals will be good on offense as long as Carson Palmer is healthy. Andre Caldwell is showing some promise as a slot receiver. Ochocinco is back to being a top-level receiver after training hard this offseason. On defense, Mike Zimmer has a decent group with good speed and improved ability to pressure the quarterback. My concern might be the offensive line, but that’s hard to evaluate until the team is in pads."
Over at NFL.com, Gil Brandt joined in, saying the Bengals could finish ahead of Baltimore. Though Brandt was quick to add that he thought both teams would trail Pittsburgh, that prediction was enough for James Walker to give Brandt his seat on the Bengals bandwagon.
Heck, even Muckraker Mike joined in, allowing that one-time Chicago bears castoff Cedric Benson appears ready to accomplish in Cincy what he never managed in the Windy City.
So, to wrap back around to Clayton, here’s my question: at what point do the Bengals quit being a “surprise team?” I mean, if everyone says they’re poised to be a surprise, well, then is anyone really going to be surprised if they surprise?
Of course not. What’s really at work here is simply two decades of failure. Any objective look at the Cincinnati Bengals will tell you three things: one, 2008 can’t be considered representative of the team’s capabilities because of the outlandish number of injuries; two, they drew what looks like a straight flush in the draft, and; three, they had a successful and active free agency period, inking guys like Tank Johnson, Lavernaues Coles and Roy Williams.
But…they’re the Bengals. So there’s no going from (nearly) worst to first in the eyes of the media, because historically that just doesn’t happen in Cincy. Well, fair enough. But for my money, I’d rather the talking heads can the CYA “surprise” talk and just lay it on the line: the Bengals have all the tools to succeed on paper, but the organization has sucked forever so they won’t.
Don’t hedge with “surprise.” You can’t or won’t believe until they prove it on the field. Again, fair enough. But if they do, no one will be surprised.