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That’s right! This is the 50th year of the Cincinnati Bengals and Mike Brown is putting off all the stops by putting an ugly patch on the jerseys. And that’s pretty much it. A patch on their current uniforms. They can’t go throwback due to NFL rules about changing helmets so we’re not getting the stripe-less jerseys with the BENGALS helmets because that would be too cool for the NFL. They could’ve at least switched to the nice subtle jerseys of the 1980-2003 due to stupid NFL rules about changing your jerseys and Mike doesn’t want to lose the orange jerseys for five years. But we’re getting a logo!
Also, they’re sending out past Bengals greats from throughout franchise history before each home game. To any other franchise, this would be nothing special. To the Bengals, this is almost unheard of. We don’t have a Hall of Fame or a Ring of Honor. We only have one retired number and, somehow, it’s not our only NFL Hall of Famer.
I would talk about the past history of the Bengals (non-playoff loss edition) but I don’t want to drone on. I will refer you to the local paper’s website which has several good stories about the past Bengals players and even non-Bengals who influenced the franchise. For fun, go to the story titled “Dave Shula: You Can’t Blame Everything on Me” (swear to God, that’s the actual title) and substitute Dave Shula and 1990s with Marvin Lewis and 2010s. The more things change, the more de-derp-de-derp.
Anyway, on to the upcoming year:
QB: Andy Dalton is returning for his 6th year and is in kind of that weird position where he’s improved but we don’t know if it’s for real until we see him in a playoff game. He won’t win any games with his arm; his job is to not mess up and make the right decisions. The backup is A.J. McCarron, who while serviceable when called into service in 2015, he is Dalton without the experience, he’s sort of okay but hold your breath when he throw the ball.
RB: Jeremy Hill is in a Contract Year and has been so average, the team drafted his replacement. Giovani Bernard is recovering from an ACL team and wants to show that he still the same player for the injury. Joe Mixon, while he has an above average right cross, wants to reward the Bengals for their trust in him, earn the fans respect and show he’s a man who make a terrible mistake and is worthy of a second chance. The only way this group can get any more motivated to score a touchdown every time they touch the ball is for the Bengals to switch to the Maryland I and have an actual, live Bengal tiger as the third Halfback behind the ball carrier.
WR/TE: A.J. Green is A.J. Green but is coming off a hamstring tear that cost him joining Randy Moss as the only receivers with 1,000 yards in the first six years. John Ross was drafted to give the Bengals the deep threat they so desperately need and give Tyler Boyd, last year’s draft pick, some chances in the slot. Tyler Eifert is a great tight end, when he isn’t in the training room. Simply put, everyone not named A.J. Green has one job, be good enough for the defense to have to cover you so A.J. Green can get the ball.
OL: (Oh, boy.) This is pretty much the position that decides if the Bengals offense is going to speed down the field or sputter to a stall on their own 35-yard line. The Bengals got crap for letting their two best linemen go, but really they were being overpaid so the Bengals did make the right call. However, they are about to quickly find out if they missed on the top draft picks of tackles Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher and if Andre Smith can play guard a year after he wasn’t good enough to play tackle for them. When lineman are referred to by name, its either a good thing or a bad thing, and I said “(Oh, boy.)” for a reason.
DL: This is the Bengals 2nd weakest position. They still have DT Geno Atkins so he will get some attention. Beyond that, they need other people to step up and get pressure on the QB. The talent is there, but if it doesn’t show on the field, it’ll be a long year.
LB: Vontaze Burfict gives this defense a nasty edge, but does play with reckless abandon that hurts his team. If he can be harnessed to play within the rules without losing his edge, he’ll be an amazing player. Also, draft pick Carl Lawson has been in the daily Training Camp Reports for good reasons, so if this translates to good football when the game start counting, this will be another weapon to a decent group of players.
DB: Adam Jones is a selfless person, a family man and a good teammate. Pacman Jones is a selfish dick, an impulsive little shit who hurts his team with dumb penalties and missed assignments. As for the other players that don’t make me drink, 1st round draft pick William Jackson III should be healthy. Other 1st Round draft pick Dre Kirkpatrick is flirting with respectability. And yet another 1st Round draft pick Darqueze Dennard did get stats for two years even though I don’t remember seeing him in a game (maybe they simulating a game or something). Safeties are present and accounted for.
ST: P Kevin Huber remains a solid punter who switches the field. Kicker is an unknown, as we got ourselves a Kicking Competition.
Coaching/Front Office: Marvin Lewis enters his 15th year in essentially the hot seat. Word is that if the Bengals don’t win a playoff game, he’s out. Mike Brown remains the owner/GM, but Katie Blackburn, who receives credit for getting her father to okay most of the changes that allowed the Bengals to become good (more freedom for the coach, a scouting department, hot water in the training room, an actual shower instead of a leaking hose), is poised to take over once her father shuffles off this mortal coil, so, like WWE, it appears the franchise is in good hands once the daughter takes over from the incompetent father.
What has to happen for the Bengals to miss the playoffs? Pretty much what happened last year. The defensive line is bad giving their QB all day to find a receiver. The offensive line is so bad, Dalton has no time to find anyone and the running backs have no holes to run through.
What has to happen for the Bengals to make the playoffs? Believe it or not, the Bengals aren’t that far away. That 6-9-1 record could’ve easily have been 9-7. Eight of their games were decided by one score (1-6-1) and they had a net positive score differential (avg. 20.4-19.7). Plus that was with injuries to most of their offense. And their defense was good in the last half of the year.
Prediction: I did a quick eyeball test of the schedule and sadly I only saw 7-9. Swept Browns. Split Ravens. Swept by Steelers. Wins against Buffalo, @Jacksonville, @Tennessee and Chicago. Losses against Houston, @Green Bay, Indianapolis, @Denver, @Vikings, and Lions. If the Offensive Line is good, I can see them beating the Colts and maybe Minnesota but 9-7 is a stretch.
If you somehow made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to another great year.