Where do the Cincinnati Bengals go from here?

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 30: Bud Dupree #48 of the Pittsburgh Steelers forces a fumble after sacking Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at Heinz Field on September 30, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 30: Bud Dupree #48 of the Pittsburgh Steelers forces a fumble after sacking Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at Heinz Field on September 30, 2019 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /

With Monday night’s loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cincinnati Bengals sit  at 0-4. Frustration has reached a boiling point in the city. Everyone involved with this franchise, including fans, are left wondering, where do we go from here?

Is the sky falling? It certainly feels that way after Monday night’s lopsided loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.  This may not be a popular thing to say, but now may be the time to start thinking about the future. Yes, there are still twelve games left and anything could happen, but odds are certainly not in the Bengals favor as far as the playoffs this season.

Now, am I suggesting they should tank? Of course not. However, there are a couple of positions where the Bengals should  seriously consider plugging in young guys, including rookies, and simply seeing what they have. It can’t hurt at this point.

Linebacker is the first position that fits that bill. Nick Vigil and Preston Brown have struggled to do anything positive. It is time to consider giving Germaine Pratt significant snaps and see if he has a future in the starting lineup. Will he be out of position or make other mental mistakes with more snaps? Probably, but so have the starters. At least Pratt flashes athleticism. Put him out there and allow him to improve on the field.

What is the plan for Billy Price and the offensive line moving forward? Trey Hopkins has obviously locked up the starting center position and rightfully so. However, Price did show flashes at guard last week in Buffalo. If you like Michael Jordan that is all well and good. Give one some snaps at right guard and see what the future holds for both players.

The offensive line has been abysmal. Things really can’t get much worse, right? It is time to find out who you can build around with this line. Too much draft investment has been made for it to be this bad.

It is also time for the front office to start making some difficult decisions with the first being the future of A.J. Green. Green has had a Hall of Fame caliber career for the Bengals. He has given a lot to the city and franchise. That being said, he is in the final year of his deal and has been injured a lot in recent years. He may not have a future in Cincinnati.

If he does, then work out a deal and let him retire a Bengal. However, if he doesn’t want any part of a possible rebuild, then it is time to allow him to enter the next phase of his career somewhere else and possibly acquiring what you can to help the future of this team before he walks in free agency. This can be said for the future of a few veterans on this roster.

Then, there is  the great orange and black elephant in the room. The time has come to again start thinking about the future of the quarterback position for this franchise.

Andy Dalton has been good for the franchise, but that is about it. Thus, If the Bengals finish this season in a position that leads to a top five draft pick, then quarterback has to be at the top of the list for what this team is considering in the first round come April. You don’t pass on a possible franchise quarterback, even if you already have a solid one. See Patrick Mahomes. This era of Cincinnati Bengals football is reaching its end.

Related Story. The Andy Dalton era is over in Cincinnati. light

As a team, you do not want to be picking top five in the draft year after year. So, if top five is the situation this offseason, then it is time to jump on the opportunity to find your franchise quarterback of the future. The reason for this is you don’t want to be in this position again for a very long time. However, a new quarterback alone cannot fix this team. Now we circle back to the front office.

No quarterback or head coach, including Zac Taylor will be able to find success in Cincinnati until the front office changes their offseason philosophy to some degree. Not to sound like a broken record, but free agency strategy has to improve. Truthfully, you do not have to go out and sign each big name free agent to “win” free agency, but you do need to find solid players at positions of need and offer them fair contracts, it can be done and it has been done, even in Cincinnati.

In the first year of the Marvin Lewis era, the Bengals declined to put the transition tag on Takeo Spikes, instead, putting that money towards players like CB Tory James, DL John Thornton and TE Reggie Kelly. They filled holes with solid players and it helped build a good foundation. Go back to that strategy and supplement it with the draft. It won’t take years to build a competitive team.

There isn’t a lot to be optimistic about right now for Bengals fans, but this doesn’t have to be a doom and gloom situation for everyone involved either. This includes the fans, even if this season continues not to pan out like they hoped.

There are still young players on this roster worth being excited about, win or lose, everyone can still watch them grow. Taylor has the opportunity to grow as a coach and as a play caller. It will be interesting to see if and how that progresses.

Team personnel aside, where do the fans go from here? The stadium will probably be half to mostly empty when Arizona comes to town this Sunday.

At the end of the day, that speaks the loudest to ownership. Players deserve a packed house to play for, but fans deserve something to cheer for as well. This is a battle the Bengals and their fan base seemingly never stop fighting.