The Cincinnati Bengals will enter a Week 4 game at Pittsburgh 0-3. Are they better than the record says? Here are some interesting points to consider.
In the wake of starting the season 0-3, Cincinnati Bengals fans are going to hear a lot of opinions saying that this is a bad team, or that these are bad players. But the issue with making such a blunt statement is that this team and these players are only two fluky plays away from having been 2-1 at this point in the season.
In Seattle’s pouring rain, Randy Bullock missed a field goal that would’ve overcome the one-point deficit that ultimately decided the game. In Buffalo, a questionable holding penalty negated an incredible kickoff return by Darius Phillips.
If literally everything else about the season remained exactly the same and those two things went in the Bengals favor, then this team would have a 2–1 record. Nobody’s calling this a bad team if that’s the case. Instead, we would be talking about how there have been a lot of mistakes. Then again, that’s to be expected on a team with a new system and a lot of young inexperienced talent. Those mistakes wouldn’t be evidence that they’re a bad team. Instead, it would only be a sign that they have room for improvement, perhaps even serve as a point of optimism knowing that they’re only going to get better as the season progresses.
The reality of the situation is that it doesn’t matter what the record is right now. If the margin of victory for two out of your three matchups came down to one play on special teams, then all it’s going to take is a slight increase in execution to tip the balance in the Bengals favor. Cincinnati’s first three opponents have a combined record of 8-1 and appear to be legitimate teams in their own right.
Again, this is not a bad team. It’s not a perfect or complete team by any stretch of the imagination, but bad teams do not erase 14 point deficits against league-leading pass defenses.
Bad teams don’t have highlight reel caliber talent at their skill positions, and bad teams don’t have a coach with the same fire and passion as every Bengals fan. The kind of fans screaming at the television while jumping up and down in the living room, fighting for every sliver of opportunity to eke out a win.
Finally, bad teams don’t defeat their division rivals in prime time to truly signify that the new era of Bengals football has arrived in Cincinnati. Next Monday night could serve as a christening for this young team and serve as a catalyst to reignite fans hope in Zac Taylor‘s “New Dey”. And you better believe Coach Taylor knows that to be true.
I’m not going to tell you that you should like the current state that the team is in. Because as the phrase goes, good teams find a way to win football games. What I’m ultimately saying is that at some point this season, this team is going to start to figure out how to turn these narrow losses into narrow victories…hopefully starting Monday night in Pittsburgh.