The chase for the Lombardi could pass through Cincinnati. Bengals fans know the talent is there. Now, it has to be utilized properly.
The time has come for the Cincinnati Bengals to make a legitimate run at the Holy Grail of football. During the offseason, they made all the moves necessary to make things happen. Granted, there were no huge, earth-shaking free agency moves. But, they did more than the usual. The defense is getting a facelift and the offense has speed as its middle name. This year, there can be no excuses about what happened. The Bengals have the weapons. It’s time to make a move.
With the signing of Joe Mixon, the Bengals have assured themselves of having major attitude in the backfield. Jeremy Hill will be under the microscope to perform. If Ken Zampese goes by performance and not by balanced numbers, whoever wins the running back battle has a load to bear. The offensive line won’t be the blame (yes, I went out on a limb). Any low numbers and subpar performance can be blamed on lack of passion and drive. Personally, I think of how Rex Burkhead made the line look beastly in Week 17.
It’s no secret. Even though the Bengals are getting little or no love from most analysts, the season will be interesting. In fact, this will be the year that proves how much the Bengals want the Lombardi. This will have to be a bounce back year, like the 2011 campaign. But, a 9-7 record won’t do much good. The Bengals have the weapons to do damage in the AFC North and beyond. There should be no settling for a Wild Card. Anything other than the best record in the conference will be underachieving.
All Systems Go
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The defense has been solidified with the free agency acquisitions of Bene Benwikere and Kevin Minter. Both defenders will help quicken a unit that was just a tad off the mark last year. During the first half of the season to forget, the Bengals’ D allowed 23.6 points per game. When the lights came on in the second half, the number decreased to 15.8 per battle. That’s the kind of defense championships are made of. But, unfortunately, the Bengals’ offense struggled to score more than 19.8 points during the same stretch.
With the addition of John Ross and Josh Malone, the passing lanes should open up. There’s no need to be concerned about Andy Dalton’s arm strength. Dalton has been working with the Tom House team again. During a recent OTA practice, Adam Dedeaux talked about The Ginger’s throwing mechanics.
"“His arm is as strong as ever right now,” Dedeaux said, per Bengals.com. “The jump from two years ago to last year, we’ve seen a pretty big jump in his arm strength. We test for velocity, and test for distance and I think he’s even probably surprised himself sometimes. For every one mile an hour, he can be pretty close to a yard.”"
Need a translation? Just remember the game against Cleveland at PBS. The end of the first half.
"“Last year, he threw a Hail Mary, from the opposite 45 five or six yards into the end zone and on tape it looked like he just flicked it,” Dedeaux remembered. “It looked easy for him.”"
The return of Andrew Billings will fuel a Bengals defense that is ready to make amends for last year’s debacle. William Jackson is sure to make a few heads turn. A.J. Green is on a mission to play in his first Super Bowl.
In years past, there were tons of excuses to why the Bengals weren’t able to get over the playoff hump and make a run for the Silver. Those cushy tales of mediocrity and settling are over. There are too many reasons for success in 2017. If Cincinnati can’t find a way to use all the motivation, the reboot has to start at the top.