Bengals fans are witnessing a paradigm shift.
The AFC North has a reputation for being a nasty place. To be successful in the division, there has to be an understanding of principles. There will be hard hits, smack talk and powerful running backs…followed by more brutal hits. The Cincinnati Bengals have embraced the model of operation and look like the team to beat. They’ve fortified the defense and Andy Dalton is healthy.
Bengals doubters can be found in all places. If you investigate that noise under the kitchen sink, you’ll be surprised. It’s not a mouse, you’ve discovered a Bengals hater. They lurk around true fans and troll social media, waiting for their chance to pop out and spew their special brand of nonsense. But, those days are quickly coming to an end. The Bengals have become a franchise to watch. They’ve constructed a giant that is waking up and ready to prove a point.
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Speaking of running backs, the Bengals reassured fans that they understand their division. Bengals brass recently extended the contract of Giovani Bernard. Per ESPN, Gio will be around for the next three years. Hopefully, he has enough gas in the tank to go further. It’s yet another sign that the Bengals are ready to take the division and keep their streak of playoff appearances alive in the process.
Head coach Marvin Lewis knows the importance of the ground game.
"“It’s great to be able to extend our commitment with Gio. It’s all a part of what I keep saying — draft the right players, develop them and retain them. We’re excited about the great things Gio will continue to add to our offense.”"
Speed, power and grace come to mind, when watching Bernard move on the field. His signing gives the Bengals a two-piece punch that takes Old Heads down memory lane. If you can remember the dynamic duo of James Brooks and Ickey Woods, you’ll understand the impact of Gio’s staying in Cincinnati. Ken Zampese will have the opportunity to control Thunder, i.e., Jeremy Hill, and Lightning. The running game should be back on track.
Defensively, the Bengals will be nasty. Carlos Dunlap has put in his bid for the sack title and the defensive unit will be magnifique. D-coordinator Paul Guenther has a chip on his shoulder. His defense became a top-tier unit and didn’t make it to Super Bowl L. That wasn’t acceptable. The players have vowed to focus and then focus some more.
The word is out. The Bengals can’t be underachievers anymore. ESPN’s Bill Polian has stated that they were the ‘best team in the NFL,’ during the 2015 season.
"“It’s sad they didn’t get beyond where they did. They had the best team, I think. When Dalton got hurt, that was a terrible blow.”"
The best is yet to come. It’s been stated by an analyst from the Four Letter Network. What else could you want? Things have changed in the North. Looks like the Bengals have been called out…for the better.