The Bengals missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. With the streak coming to an end, questions and lessons are hard to face.
The NFL Playoffs are in high gear, But, what’s missing? For the first time in six years, the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t battling for a Super Bowl appearance. That may not be a big deal for most people. Yet, if you’re a devout Bengals fan, the pain is unbearable. What makes the knife go a lot deeper is the sight of the Pittsburgh Steelers advancing to the AFC Championship Game. Am I a hater? Meh. Just a homer learning some hard lessons about the Bengals’ playoff situation.
When did it all sink in? Actually, the sting was felt in Week 1. As the Bengals struggled to finally beat the New York Jets, there was that eerie feeling of uncertainty. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. The Jets calmly executed a 10-play, 78-yard touchdown drive on the Cincinnati defense. From that moment on, the season got no better. Reaching the playoffs would be an uphill battle. Ultimately, the five-year run was done.
Why did it happen? What caused the Bengals a playoff berth? Surely, the mighty Stripes had the firepower to get back to the Promised Land. But, there were obstacles that couldn’t be avoided. A huge coaching exodus and injuries were part of the problem. When a team is missing big playmakers, part of the core leadership and confidence will suffer. Let’s face it. Football is an emotional tidal wave. When the stars are missing, the play on the field will be affected.
Did We Learn Somethin’?
Yes, we did. Well, that’s from a personal standpoint. From the first week of the playoffs, it was evident. The Bengals had beaten many of the teams that were in the running for the Lombardi. Who can forget the spectacular play of Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert, when the Bengals beat the Seahawks in overtime? The Bengals are a year removed from beating the Ra-Ra-Raiders (use Chris Berman voice) in the 2015 opener. That’s when all the talk was starting up around Derek Carr.
When the Bengals donned their Color Rush duds for Thursday Night Football, Vontaze Burfict made his return from suspension. The result was a 22-7 thumping of Miami that gave fans hope. At the time, most people were unimpressed. After all, it was the Dolphins. The Phins weren’t going anywhere. Well, they got it together and made it to the dance. That’s what makes it hard to swallow. After remembering the Bengals’ dismantling of the south Florida ballers, it doesn’t make sense.
Still want more? Go back a couple of years to the 2014 season. Matt Ryan and the mighty Atlanta Falcons swooped into Paul Brown Stadium. You already know the result. It’s the basis of this whole rant. The Bengals’ defense showed up and showed out. In the 24-10 stomping of the Falcons, Bengals’ defenders intercepted Ryan three times. Geez, these walks down memory lane can be painful.
Oh, wait. During that 8-0 run of 2015, Cincinnati had a defensive showing against Big Ben and the Steelers. Cincinnati snagged three INTs, in a Week 8 16-10 victory.
Hey, I’m just the messenger. But, the message is clear. Something is not right with the Bengals. The angry answer will always be Marvin Lewis. But, there’s enough disappointment to be spread around. From a schematic standpoint, players, and all the way to ownership, there wasn’t enough done to get the Bengals over the hump…again.
Before packing up to leave for the offseason schedule, Lewis said watching the playoffs hurts. Really?
"“It’s painful when there are teams playing that replaced us. It hurts…It ought to hurt every coach and player in this building.”"
Welcome to the club buddy. That’s how it feels when you have a huge party spread and your team is not playing. Sure, it’s fun to watch the action, eat wings and dream. But, it’s time for some hard results.
Marvelous Marv seems to be all about business, this offseason. But, we’ve all heard that before. He doesn’t want to talk about how the teams the Bengals beat look better than his 2016 squad. He says talking about it is wasting time.
Funny…that’s what Bengals fans have been screaming for years.