We’re back with another State of the Franchise feature as we creep closer and closer to the start of the NFL season. Who’s pumped?
It always seems so long over the offseason, and that’s probably because it is, but since we started this State of the Franchise series it seems to have gone much quicker!
This time around, Thomas Goodall (@thomasgoodall) has helped us out by writing about his Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals have disappointed in the last 2 season but does Thomas think that might change this time around? Let’s find out.
Last Season’s Reflections
Overall last season was a disappointment for the Bengals. There was some optimism going into the year but that very quickly disappeared with the disastrous 0-2 start. The Bengals managed to achieve something so rare it hadn’t happened since 1939, they opened the season without a touchdown in two home games. This resulted in the firing of Offensive Coordinator Ken Zampese and Bill Lazor took over as OC.
What followed was an up and down season filled with some promising moments from young players but ultimately this team was never going to be in contention to make the playoff’s. Many Bengals fans, including myself, felt this was the time to say thank you and goodbye to long-time head coach Marvin Lewis, who despite having the most wins in Bengals history, has never won a playoff game. The news that Lewis signed a 2 year extension to continue as head coach just after the season finished came as a surprise to many, and a frustration to many more.
Changes During The Offseason
The Bengals are never big players during the off season. A blockbuster free-agent signing is a rarity so even seeing the team make a trade involving their first round draft pick was a big surprise.
The trade for Bills mountain left tackle Cordy Glenn was a sign that the front office recognised the abysmal offensive line play of recent seasons. 3 years ago the Bengals had one of the best lines in the league, but since 2015 things have not been great. Loosing LT Andrew Whitworth and guard Kevin Zeitler in free agency last offseason meant things went from bad to worse.
Given the perceived lack of offensive line depth in this year’s draft, this is in theory a good move and should help give second year running back Joe Mixon a better chance to show what he can do. Glenn however will have to prove he can stay healthy having not played a full season since 2015, but if he can his presence could be a big positive for the Bengals.
The other big change came with a new Defensive Coordinator in Teryl Austin, formally of the Lions. He replaces Paul Gunther who took the job of DC in Oakland. Austin comes in to coach a group of exciting young players and some really good veterans.
Focusing on the line …
During the draft the Bengals looked again to improve the offensive line taking Centre Billy Price from Ohio State in the first round. Price should start from day one if all is well with the pectoral injury he picked up at the scouting combine and it will be important for him to form a connection early with Andy Dalton. The other pick that interested me was also from Ohio State, third rounder Sam Hubbard who will join what is becoming quite the rotation at Defensive End.
Overall it was a solid draft by the Bengals, no big name picks like last year with John Ross and Joe Mixon, but history shows us that this front office can draft well so here’s hoping this is another good draft class who can contribute early.
Predictions For The New Season
Having spoken about the offensive line so much already it should come as no surprise that it may well be what defines the Bengals season. Giving up 40 sacks and ranking 31st in total rushing yards simply isn’t good enough and if the Bengals have any hope of being in contention for the playoff’s this must improve significantly.
Andy Dalton has shown he can play well when he is surrounded by talented players and with perennial pro-bowler A.J Green leading deep group of WR’s and Joe Mixon looking likely to be the featured back, Dalton could be in for a bounce back season. It’s also worth remembering, this will be the first time Bill Lazor has had a full offseason with his players to implement his system.
On the defensive side of the ball the player that excites Bengals fans the most is third year Corner Back William Jackson III. Jackson missed his first season through injury but was outstanding last season and will likely line up as the starting CB and will be looking to put his name into the hat for the NFL’s next lock-down corner.
If everything comes together there is enough talent on this team to make it to the playoffs but in a tough AFC North where the Steelers are the clearly the best team and I believe both the Ravens and Browns will improve, it will be no easy ride. Should the season not go as planned and the Bengals fall to a third loosing season in a row, will owner Mike Brown finally call time on Marvin Lewis? Probably not.
Predicted finishing record – 8-8 and miss the playoffs.
Editor Notes: Bengals fans, let us know your thoughts and tell us whether you agree with Thomas’ reflections and predictions. Leave a comment or contact us via social media below: