The 2016 Bengals ensured a losing season by not cutting team cancers Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones in the offseason. Although neither player has played sub-par this year, their below standard character ensured the death of the 2016 Bengals.
What Goes Around Comes Around
The manner by which the Bengals lost in the Playoffs last year became a catalyst for the disaster seen in the current season. Even with a backup Quarterback, the 2015 Bengals should have been in the Divisional Round of the Playoffs. However, two players with a questionable past destroyed the Bengals future.
In the off-season, Bengals management had the opportunity to take a stand for character but decided to bow down to potential. The lowered posture of this years team has affected all facets of this team. Players must respect their coach and Marvin Lewis‘ continual defense of Vontaze Burfict is indefensible.
It may be possible to dissect the 2016 Bengals season by looking at stats, X’s and O’s or Offensive Line play. All of those angles are valid and full of issues without doubt. However, there has to be a reason this team is statistically bad all around. There has to be a reason weird Offensive play-calling and Defensive strategy hasn’t been effective. Yes, there also has to be a reason the Offensive Line isn’t run blocking or guarding the edge. The reason for all of these failures, is a failure of character that destroyed any momentum this team should have had.
Nothing Abnormal Here
Every team has to deal with injuries and this team has been no different. From the defensive line and secondary to a starting running back and star wide receiver, this has been a rough year. Yet, lack of character didn’t pull A.J. Green‘s hamstring or tear Giovani Bernard‘s ACL.
Consequently, every team and every coach scream in unison that injuries are not excuses and the next man up must be ready to play. It means injuries can’t be used as a reason for the lackluster record and overall team performance. Star players and contributors on the IR never help but teams pay coaches and backups to be ready no matter what.
In the age of free agency, players move every few years seeking the best fit and the best money. Similarly, coordinators like Mike Zimmer and Hue Jackson leave for their own Head Coaching opportunities. The Bengals are not the only team dealing with new Coordinators or losing star assistants to other teams. For that matter, the Bengals and Marvin Lewis should be well equipped to deal with new coaches. Lewis is long-tenured, well-respected and coaching staff changes are no excuse for what has happened this year.