The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off an AFC North title in 2015, but with other teams in the division getting healthy, will they still be the favorites at the start of the season?
The Cincinnati Bengals have been one of the top teams in both the AFC North and the NFL for the past few years. Despite not winning a playoff game in their last seven trips to the post season, the Bengals came closer than ever last season.
This season should be no different, even with the loss of Marvin Jones, and Mohamed Sanu. The core group of guys is still in place on this offense and Andy Dalton is looking healthy again after suffering a season ending thumb injury. New additions like Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, and Cody Core, will only help this offense become more of a threat.
The defense is looking stronger than ever with the additions of Andrew Billings and Karlos Dansby this off-season. They signed Adam Jones and George Iloka to new deals, plus extended Shawn Williams to ensure his time in the secondary for this team will continue long-term.
The biggest question revolving this Bengals team is the new offensive coordinator and former Bengals quarterbacks coach, Ken Zampese. Hue Jackson left for Cleveland’s head coaching vacancy and a couple of defensive position coaches including Vance Joseph and Matt Burke departed for warmer pastures.
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Ken Zampese, who has been the quarterbacks coach since 2003 for the Cincinnati Bengals, knows and understand this offense better than anyone. He has the trust of the quarterbacks, receivers, running backs, and offensive line, having to work closely with each unit to keep his quarterbacks comfortable.
Vance Joseph and Matt Burke are two big losses from a position coaching stand point. Matt Burke had helped Vontaze Burfict, Vincent Rey, and Rey Maualuga to continue to grow as a unit in his two years. Vance Joseph saw the biggest jump from his players with George Iloka coming into his own and Reggie Nelson have a career year in 2015. However, Paul Guenther and Marvin Lewis are both defensive minds and have the ability to keep this defense headed in the right direction.
The 2016 is still a few months away and training camp will start in July, but for the Bengals, the run to consecutive AFC North crowns started the day after their Wildcard loss. The Bengals will be competing with a healthy Steelers and Ravens team, but until they are unseated as defending AFC North Champions, they are the favorites headed into 2016.