With training camp just weeks away, the NFL offseason is already over in many ways. Now is a good time to reflect on what the Bengals did, but what they didn’t do may be more important.
At the end of last season, change was the word most associated with the Bengals franchise. It was needed and the fans wanted it. Even when Marvin Lewis was finally let go, most people were skeptical that things would really change.
That skepticism only grew when Bengals assistant Hue Jackson interviewed for the job. Jackson was a disaster as a head coach, compiling an 11-44-1 record with the Browns and Raiders. Several of his former players have been critical of him as well. Who Knows? Zac Taylor may be a flop, but most importantly, he isn’t Jackson.
Moreover, the organization finally went out of its comfort zone with the hire. Taylor has no previous Bengals ties and represents real change. That, coupled with the fact that the temptation to promote Jackson was resisted is something everyone involved with the Bengals should feel good about.
We can all agree that not hiring Jackson is good thing, but the same cannot be said of not taking a quarterback in the first round of the draft. However, doing so would have created an instant quarterback controversy. We have seen those eat even experienced coaches alive. Imagine what it might do to a 36 year old rookie head coach, even a “quarterback guy” like Taylor.
The Bengals did hedge whatever bet it has on Andy Dalton by drafting NC State’s Ryan Finley in the fourth round. Finley may or may not pan out, either way his presence is one of many methods the organization is using to help Dalton make the leap from good to great. If he makes that leap, Finley becomes good trade bait. If Dalton doesn’t, Finley will get a shot at being the heir apparent. Either way, the Bengals are set at quarterback without making too many headlines.
As unspectacular as it may have seemed, Cincinnati had a solid offseason. The buttons they did not push could very well prove to be as impactful as the ones they did,