How the Bengals can avoid another mediocre season

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Jan 1, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) watches from the bench during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) watches from the bench during the second half against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports /
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Fans are forever grateful to Marvin Lewis for getting the Bengals back on track. But, It’s time to move on to the next level.

It’s been discussed before. Any self-respecting Bengals fan has engaged in the conversation and felt some kind of way. There was either a lingering feeling of guilt–for entertaining the dialogue–or a feeling of pride. But, the end result was a heart-to-heart about the state of affairs in Bengals Nation. Things aren’t bad. But, things aren’t great either. Hopefully, the draft class of 2017 will be able to turn things around for Cincinnati. It’s not too late. The mediocre rut can be halted.

Here’s the problem that most Bengals fans refuse to believe: the team is not really over the hump. No matter how much they argue and bicker about the NFL’s ranking of the Bengals, it won’t change until the results start to show marked improvement and consistency. Teams that are considered to be the “cream of the crop” do one thing and they do it well. They win games, get W’s in the playoffs and make changes when necessary.

Being what they are, the Bengals have been a decent team. Given the circumstances of ownership and coaching, the product on the field has been better than expected in recent years. The 6-9-1 breakdown last season was a reminder that if problems aren’t addressed immediately, they snowball into insurmountable odds. The Bengals were faced with two problems that never received attention and they paid the price.

React When It Happens

It wasn’t a late-night phone call that happened to be missed. Andy Dalton ran for his life last year and it was due to an O-Line that smelled like Limburger cheese. There were signs that the offensive line was going to be a washout for the season. The musical chairs rotation of Cedric Ogbuehi and the in-and-out playing time of Jake Fisher were a clue. 

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Andrew Whitworth was a free agent and so was Kevin Zeitler. To my knowledge (and that’s sketchy at best…sue me) there were very few moves made to retain the two linemen. Yes, there was a plan in place. But, it took too long to make a move and just flat-out replace Whit and Zeitler. Meanwhile, Dalton was sacked 41 times and had to dump the ball off to keep his head on straight. The Bengals averaged 2.56 sacks per game. Not bad, compared to the Browns, but unacceptable.

Stop waiting for the problems to fix themselves and make decisions that will create positive results. Yeah, I sound like a pop psychiatrist. But, that may be the ticket for the franchise to snap out of the doldrums.

Do we have to talk about the running game? Yup. Quick and simple. Rex Burkhead should have been used more to push Jeremy Hill. There. I said it.

You Knew The Lewis Card Was Coming

When most people think about longevity, it’s always in a good sense. But, with Marvin Lewis, you get the best (or worst) of both worlds. Stability is a good thing, in most cases. I won’t go into the turnaround of the franchise. That’s overdone and played out. Kudos, Marvin. But, it’s time to make a move and get over the stagnation. It’s time to prove what got you the coaching gig.

Yes, Bengals fans worship you for getting the team back in playoff form. Of course, you’re praised for bringing a semblance of respectability back to Cincinnati football. But, now it’s time to get over the giddy feelings and deliver the goods. It’s time for a postseason win and deep run into the Big Dance.

Next: Ready For The North?

Time For Dalton To Rise Up

At least Mohamed Sanu got the chance to play in the Super Bowl ( no Falcons hate). But, the Red Rifle has to reload and put the Bengals on his shoulders again. When has he done it before? The 2015 season was his coming out party. If Cincy gets a repeat of that almost MVP year and awesome performances from the likes of Joe Mixon and John Ross, this could be a special year.

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