Starting 0-5 has already made for a long season and on the current trajectory it’s only going to get longer. That being said, losing now could set the foundation for a brighter future for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can go up. That may be where the Cincinnati Bengals are right now, and have been for a couple of years. Allow me to explain.
Ever since losing their last playoff game to the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2015 season, the Bengals have been a shell of their former selves. Key players have since left the team and have not been properly replaced by an equal quality of player. It has shown on the field. They were unable to put together a winning season over the next three years.
What makes things tougher is that this team hasn’t been really awful either. Thus, the Bengals have been stuck in NFL purgatory. In some ways, this can be the worse place to be as an NFL franchise. How many times have we heard that the Bengals are only a piece or two away? Yet as each year has went by, they have been no closer to meaningful success than they were the year prior.
A losing culture is never desirable, especially with a new head coach trying to put his stamp on the franchise. However, a coach should always be a good salesman. If there is one thing Zac Taylor has proven to be good at thus far, it is saying the right things. Part of his job is holding his guys together. Losing is always hard for anyone involved, but this team desperately needs a fresh start.
With this fresh start comes the need for high draft picks, and by high I mean top five. This team needs an infusion of premium young talent. The key to this young talent is a new young quarterback to lead a new era. Cincinnati doesn’t need just any quarterback. It needs a franchise changing one. That being said, the simplest path to a guy like that is a top five draft pick.
Andy Dalton has done a lot for this franchise and should be thought of fondly for his time in Cincinnati. However, it is time to start thinking about the future. Even beyond Dalton, it is time to see who among the veterans want to stick around for the rebuild and who doesn’t, then act accordingly.
If they want to finish their careers as Bengals, they have certainly earned that right. However, if they would rather move on, It is time to see what kind of draft capital you can get for them and build for the future. Struggling will show everyone where these guys are emotionally. That also may determine who is in for the long haul and who isn’t.
It is time to also take a long hard look at the young guys on this roster. When you have nothing to play for in terms of wins and losses, It is time to start scouting. Self scouting can also make a bad year much more bearable for fans as well. It is nice to find out who a team can build around. Once again, it is all about the future.
It is time for this front office to self scout too. This team had a strong stretch of good drafts that led to some competitive teams during an era of relatively consistent playoff trips. However, the same cannot be said for the last few years.
Losing stinks. This season has already seen more than its fair share of bumps. However, it doesn’t have to mean a “back to the 90’s” scenario. This can be an opportunity to build a strong new foundation. After all, many empires were built from rubble. You just have to make the most of the next opportunity.