Promise after promise has gotten the Bengals nowhere. Now that the records are reset for a new year, it’s time for the words to mean something.
The Bengals’ 2016 season had its share of ups and downs. But, the majority of what fans got were more downers. If Mike Brown wants to keep the fan base coming back, there has to be a goal set. The promises have to be turned into positive reactions. Concrete results will be the only thing that retains the diehard fans that have been following the Bengals for years.
Bandwagon faithful will come and go. It’s the nature of the NFL. But, true fans are the ones that live and die with the teams they love. Cincinnati has been witness to a franchise that started in 1968 and has remained stationary. Teams relocate like vagabonds. Recent developments have the Oakland Raiders considering a move to Las Vegas. Yes, you read that right. Raiders fans on The Strip. What a sight.
Would fans still follow the Bengals, if they moved to another city? The answer is probably a resounding yes. But, the one thing that pulls on many heartstrings is the mediocrity that has engulfed the current performance. Yes, Marvin Lewis has moved the Bengals from the dark ages. There’s no doubt that Cincinnati has become a better organization, since his hiring. Yet, the bottom line is nerve-wracking. When? There has to be that one year that fans feel things coming together.
Was 2015 The Limit?
The Bengals had one of their most successful campaigns in years before Andy Dalton fractured his thumb. When the Bengals went 8-0 to start the 2015 schedule, there was a feeling that something was special. Going to Pittsburgh in Week 8 and making a defensive statement against the Steelers was classic. Vontaze Burfict returned from injury and helped Cincinnati usher in a new message. It was all about the Stripes.
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Here’s the bottom line. The Atlanta Falcons have made it to Super Bowl LI. Head coach Dan Quinn has ushered in championship football, in a mere two years time. In his first year, the Falcons got the message. In 2016, the Dirty Birds are the NFC’s best and going to Houston. Translation…Marvin has had enough time. In his tenure as Bengals head coach, there hasn’t been an AFC championship. Let’s go even lower. Not one playoff victory appears on his resume.
There comes that moment when it just doesn’t make sense. Rational thought tells Bengals fans that it’s close. The time is near. But, facing the truth is always a painful venture. Lewis says his team is just a few tweaks away from being in the driver’s seat again. But, isn’t that the same excuse that gets repeated every January? Where are the answers? The Orange and Black should have been the Super Bowl by now.
Only In Horseshoes
When it comes to being close, Cincinnati football is the champ. The Cincinnati Bengals are the poster child for “close but no cigar.” On paper, each year is a winning season for the Bengals. In 2016, Lewis and Co. faced a schedule that started hard and got easier along the way. Some fans said the games were stacked against the home team. But, according to NFL.com, the schedule strength was actually towards the bottom of the pack. So, it wasn’t that. The 2015 lineup was the real beast. Only the Steelers had a harder test.
It’s time to see a repeat of the 1981 and 1988 seasons. If that’s going to happen, there’s no margin for error. Those squads were special. There was purpose and desire. It was all about going out and showing the opponent Bengals football. It was schematically sound and ran to perfection by coaches and players.
The time for Wild Card berths and one-and-done appearances is over. If there’s a theme for 2017, it’s simple. It’s Super Bowl or bust. Being vastly different starts now.