State of the Cincinnati Bengals: A Fan Perspective
The “State of the Bengals” is pretty much what we’ve come to expect these past few seasons. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals 2014 season played out in typical fashion. With high expectations, a rejuvenated running game, and more pressure than ever to win in the postseason, the season came to a screeching halt in the first round of the playoffs yet again. Yes, the Bengals had key injuries to key players, and yes, Andy Dalton and the gang lost to the emerging juggernaut that is Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, but regardless of reasonings, the conclusion of the season was nonetheless disappointing.
The Bengals saw injuries to key players such as Marvin Jones, Tyler Eifert, and Vontaze Burfict; A.J. Green was also listed as “out” for three games, but basically missed two more, not to mention the playoff game. Even with all of these factors, the bottom line is, the Bengal faithful haven’t seen a playoff win in now 25 years, which is basically an entire generation.
2014 raised more questions than answers. Why is the defensive line so bad when rushing the quarterback? Why can’t the Bengals defend the run without Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict on the field? Why do first round draft picks Dre Kirkpatrick and Darqueze Dennard primarily play special teams while undrafted rookie Ryan Hewitt plays H-Back and some tight end right away? Why was this team so good in Weeks 1-3, but never found that same mojo the rest of the season? What happened to Mohamed Sanu? After beginning the season as an integral part of the offense, he completely fell off the radar late in the season.
These are questions the fan base deserves answers to. These are the kinds of questions that leave fans scratching their heads and questioning an already polarizing coaching staff. The Bengals have decided to keep head coach Marvin Lewis until the end of his last contract extension, which is good through the 2015 NFL season. And maybe this is the correct decision despite the clamoring for change from many.
With only 32 head coaching jobs in the NFL, the Bengals job would be one of the more desirable positions, making a decision to fire Lewis an easier one. But not so fast. There are a lot of things to not like about Marvin Lewis, especially his now 0-6 postseason record. Nonetheless, this year may have been his best coaching job yet, seriously. Lewis had to replace his defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, and deal with a rash of injuries. Not only that, but he had to keep the Bengals competitive in the AFC North, which had all of its teams over .500 through Week 11, for the first time, for any NFL Division, since 1945. When considering this, finding a new coach who can do better in the coming year may not be as easy as one might think initially.
Heading into 2015, the Bengals need some excitement and need it in a hurry. Don’t expect much movement in free agency, as the Bengals seem to never invest in this market. This makes fans turn their attention to the NFL Draft. The Bengals have done extremely well in the draft the past few years, but the fan base is losing faith since two first round picks started on special teams this past season.
2014 is over and 2015 has begun. The Bengals are facing the second toughest strength of schedule, and once again, anything short of a playoff run will feel like a disappointment.
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