The Cincinnati Bengals are in the middle of change. Fans are used to the big talk. But, with the loss of more players, this overhaul has to work.
After suffering through the dismal reality of a 6-9-1 season, Bengals fans are rightly disappointed. But, the scenario isn’t as bad as some may think. Yes, the team missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. Yet, that isn’t a reason to feel like the bottom has dropped out. The 2017 season has the possibility of going either way. There can be a quick turnaround or a gradual return to respectability. But, things will get better faster than expected.
There’s another shift in the dynamic of what’s happening with the Bengals. Another shift? The first came when Marvin Lewis became the head coach. Before you pull out bags of feathers and put a vat of tar on the fire, think about it. Lewis actually gave Bengals fans something to cheer about again. Those of us who had to sit through the torture of Akili Smith, David Klingler or any other sub par athlete that graced the Queen City landscape during the Lost Decade, are thankful. Missing one year of postseason bliss is nothing compared to those memories.
But, does this new change in philosophy signal it’s time for another run at a division crown? There are issues that need to be addressed before the Bengals can truly be considered as ‘turning the corner’ again. Fond thoughts of the 2009 rebound can easily make hearts flutter. The Bengals went 4-11-1 the year prior and promptly posted a 10-6 record and Wild Card appearance for the following campaign.
Actions Speak Volumes
The Bengals have been doing a bit of spring cleaning, during the offseason. Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler, Domata Peko, and Rey Maualuga are no longer in Stripes. There was no surprise when it came to Big Whit and Zeitler. Mike Brown refuses to be held hostage when money is the issue. Both players got the deals they wanted with other teams. I tip my hat to them and their agents.
But, the release of Maualuga was a move that came as a lower-gut punch. Fans wanted to see something done. They wanted to see heads roll for the disappointing season. Ultimately, it seems that Rey was part of the plan to start fresh. Kevin Minter was snagged, to help get the front seven in gear. Now, it’s on the offensive line and backfield.
It’s going to be all about the youth. The new season will be their chance to make new memories for fans and start a new playoff run.
Lewis actually made mention of the Bengals’ reshaping during exit interviews. So, the shock of what’s taking place is more public and fan based.
"“I talked to the guys in January that this is where we were,” Lewis said, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. “That the football team was going to have a different landscape.”"
So far, that’s ringing true. As mentioned before, a similar situation took place in 2008. The resulting change helped the Bengals sweep the AFC North. Hopefully, this time, the changes will result in more than just beating division rivals. This culture change should include a playoff win.