The 2017 season will be one to remember. There will either be a renewed sense of pride in the Bengals efforts or a long list of excuses.
It’s not just another year. This is not year one on the Andy Dalton to A.J. Green connection. The Bengals have been to the playoffs five of the past six seasons. Last year’s dismal showing had fans and football purists scratching their heads in awe. When the Bengals proceeded to post nine losses, it was a shock to anyone claiming to support the Orange & Black. But, it happened. Now, it’s a do-or-die scenario for 2017.
This isn’t a repeat of the 2003 season. Under those circumstances, fans were overjoyed to see the Bengals move to 8-8. There was a certain pride that came along with finally having a respectable record. And being mentioned as a playoff hopeful was music to the ears. But, the novelty has worn off. After seven trips to the postseason and nothing but goose eggs, there has to be an end to the futility.
Yes, the Bengals have loaded up on offense and defense. They’ve turned the team into a real version of Madden NFL. Speed kills. But, adding the toys and dangerous weapons mean nothing without a change in the results. There has to be a conscious effort by all involved. From Marvin Lewis and his merry band of coaches to the stoic stare of Mike Brown, the approach has to change.
No More Promises
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Fans don’t want to hear the same old lines. There comes a time when the smoke and mirrors act is dead. It no longer has the same appeal. When the Bengals were considered the bottom feeders of the NFL, losing wasn’t merely embraced…it was expected. But, since the franchise has proven its ability to reach the Big Dance, there can be no substitutes. Winning 10 to 12 games has become the standard during the Dalton-Green era. Even Dalton felt the strangeness of going 6-9-1.
"“It felt different. There’s something you can take from last year, and things to go back and look at to see what you could have done different,” Dalton explained, per Bengals.com. “This was what this whole offseason has been for, to see what was done well and what we didn’t do good. We need to get better at things we do well and really improve on things we didn’t do well on. This offseason has been good for us.”"
The Red Rifle is one of many Bengals who have to step up and produce. We’ve known for some time that Cincinnati’s potential is off the hook. But, this is it. This season has to be the blockbuster of all campaigns. Merely posting 11 or 12 W’s will no longer be acceptable.
The Sound Of Urgency
This will not be a normal year for the Bengals. Rookies will be expected to play, expectations are high and the bar is up there. This is the season for shedding those stereotype of mediocrity. In other words, a light bulb has to go off (or on, choose your poison).
If the players don’t want to let Lewis down, then this has to be the turning point. With or without his influence, the Bengals have to march into January with a single purpose. They must take their journey to the next level. It’s time to win more than a playoff game. This season has to prove how much the players want to break through the stagnant remains of years past.
To become one of the consistently good teams in the NFL, the Bengals need more than luck. They need a plan, a few breaks and the desire to be great. The talent is there. Now, they need a sense of urgency.