The Cincinnati Bengals Must Find A Way Next Season


Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati Bengals head coach

Marvin Lewis

against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals fans saw another postseason flame out this year. Against the Colts, the Bengals were without two top offensive weapons in A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham making Andy Dalton‘s day even more difficult than it already was when trying to overcome the playoff hurdle.  The injuries continued a season-long trend that saw numerous key players end up on the I.R. list.  It was a yet another season that ended all too early for fans.

But that’s over now and, like it or not, we’re heading into the 2015 season.  Next season should be a make or break year for Marvin Lewis and Andy Dalton.  Yet despite the loath that some fans have for the team’s head coach and quarterback, the biggest issue may not be with the head coach and quarterback. Rather, it might lie more with Mike Brown. He recently made a statement that drew the ire of many fans.

If this seems like Deja Vu on Stripe Hype, that is because, our very own Tyler Mercurio pointed this tweet out in his article on the 4th of January. Who Dey Nation knows there needs to be a change from the top down.  Marvin Lewis has been quick to move on from 2014 rather pushing his focus to 2015, but there is one thing he hasn’t said, he was happy to just be in the playoffs.

The Bengals will stay with Marvin Lewis as head coach and Andy Dalton as the team’s starting quarterback for 2015. Still though, the Bengals have several decisions to make prior to the start of off-season workouts.  The Bengals’ free agent list could be very attractive to other NFL teams, with the likes of Rey Maualuga, Terence Newman, Mike Nugent, and restricted free agent Emmanuel Lemur, who played a large role in the absence of Vontaze Burfict, hitting the market. They will need to find young talent to fill key defensive roles while they’ll need to add talent to the offensive line; Clint Boling should be a free agent priority.

The Bengals’ defense took a huge step backwards as they ranked 11th in points allowed per game (21.5).  This is down from fifth in 2013 when the team only surrendered 19.1 per game. They also went from third to 22nd in total yards allowed (305 to 359.3 yards per game). 2014 was their worst defensive season since 2007 when they allowed 348.8 yards and 24.1 points per game. Yes, they were without defensive leader Vontaze Burfict for much of the season, but they were without All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins for the second half of 2013 and still managed to dominate the AFC North.  The most substantial change within the defense was the Bengals’ switch from Mike Zimmer to Paul Guenther as the team’s defensive coordinator.  Guenther clearly needs time to grow, and he’ll receive another opportunity to lead the defense in 2015.

The offensive performance was better at times, yet Dalton had almost a 1:1 touchdown to interception ratio, his worst since joining the Bengals in 2011. The Bengals lost their top tight end, Tyler Eifert, for the season in Week One and Jermaine Gresham suffered an injury of his own late in the season (much to the frustration of some), which caused him to miss the team’s playoff game. A.J. Green missed four games, which included the Wild Card game and a key regular season matchup against the New England Patriots.

This team will take the off-season to get key players back, but they should bring in a few more role players if they want to improve in 2015. The Bengals will be playing for a fifth postseason appearance in as many years, and if Andy Dalton is going to lead them there and beyond, he will need all the weapons he can get.  If they are unable to do so, Who Dey Nation and the Bengals will need to decide, especially after hearing Mike Brown’s aforementioned statement, if the problem really lies with Marvin Lewis, or is it within a much higher pay grade?

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