As the 2017 season unfolds, it’s apparent the Cincinnati Bengals are in transition mode. The time is now for the youngsters to stand tall and produce.
Fans haven’t felt this way in a long time. The Cincinnati Bengals are moving into the 2017 season with more questions than answers. As the NFL Draft peeps around the corner, there seems to be a profound disconnect with those who cheer for the Orange and Black. A number of opinions will denote the offensive line struggles. Others will point to the stagnant play on defense. Whatever the beliefs, it’s a make-or-break year for a team that has seen more success than 6-9-1.
Yes, it was an unbelievable drop off in production. The year prior, Bengals faithful were treated (or should I say teased) with the prospect of a playoff win. A little more than 120 seconds separated the Bengals from a destiny that seemed theirs for the taking. After all, they had tied the franchise record for W’s and looked like the team to beat in the AFC. Well, at least that’s what NBC Analyst Tony Dungy hinted at. They had all the cards stacked for a trip to Super Bowl LI.
Sadly, it ended on a rain-soaked night filled with tears and memes of heartbroken fans. Ironically, that was supposed to be the catalyst for a powerhouse season. The 2016 campaign was hailed as the year the Bengals finally put it all together and brought the Lombardi to the Queen City. Instead, injuries and failed opportunity became the reward.
Ready Or Not
As Bengals’ brass readies for the draft and fans debate the needs of a team in transition, the questions abound. With the release of veteran linebacker Rey Maualuga, there may be a new view just over the horizon. Maualuga wasn’t a terrible player. But, the franchise may be on the verge of an awakening.
Speed was an element that was lacking. Age is a contributing factor to good players becoming average. In the NFL, that isn’t going to win divisions or Super Bowls. Let’s face it. The Bengals hadn’t won a playoff game with the same crew in place. It’s time to see if the youngsters are ready to make some noise. The draft process has been very kind to the Bengals. A ton of young talent is waiting to be set loose. This season will have to be the starting point.
Don’t stick your head in the sand. This will be a trial and error year. It’s a youth movement and mistakes will have to be covered by winning. Geno Atkins (the sack Jedi) will be flanked by a 22-year-old behemoth. Domata Peko’s departure makes way for the strength of Andrew Billings. Maualuga was replaced by Kevin Minter. The former Cardinal is four years younger. Say what you will, the Bengals are trying to stay youthful and relevant.
"“We got younger on the roster. We went from the youngest team in the NFL to one of the older teams very quickly,” Marvin Lewis said, via Bengals.com. “That’s what happens. That’s the hardest thing on coaches when you subtract veteran players from the position groups, the position coaches job is to bring on the next players.”"
Make It So Number One
The Bengals are going to be in for some rough times ahead. This is where the culmination of drafts, faith in players and the ‘plan’ has to gel. The coaching staff will have a monumental task ahead. Like Lewis said, bring on the next group of players. It’s time fans see what they can do.