After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…
Today we take a look at the Cincinnati Bengals . Don’t forget to check out the AFC North podcast where we talk to a fan and get their thoughts on them!
How Did Last Season Go?
After 5 weeks, you were wondering if it had finally all come together for the Red Rifle and Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati. But no, it wasn’t to be.
From those highs of a 5-3 record in the AFC North prior to their bye week, to the lows of hiring Hue Jackson, things quickly got out of hand *insert Ron Burgundy GIF* ending in a 6-10 end of season record.
Andy Dalton got injured week 12 vs Cleveland which saw his season end prematurely and the replacement Jeff Driskell was not asked to do anything spectacular. Coupled with that, a tough schedule after the bye week (Saints, Ravens, a good Browns x2, Chargers and Steelers in the schedule).
The season will probably be mainly remembered for the Cleveland trollings from Baker and Randall with Hue Jackson on the sidelines and also the end of Marvin Lewis’s tenure as the head coach after 16 seasons as head coach (and no playoff wins).
Bengals had some injuries to deal with on both sides of the ball to their main talents including Joe Mixon, AJ Green, Vontaze Burfict, Nick Vigil, Carl Lawson and Dre Kirkpatrick which didn’t help their cause but once Dalton went down, so did the curtains. Despite that, there were bright spots on offence for Mixon and also Tyler Boyd who both had 1000 yard seasons rushing and receiving respectively whilst John Ross somehow managed to get himself into the endzone 7 times also.
Long term Head Coach Marvin Lewis has been relieved of his duties and Zac “Sean McVay disciple” Taylor has been brought in to invigorate the team.
The Bengals have the 9th most cap space and pick 11 in the first round of the draft. 2 more picks in the top 100 (42 & 72) means that they will have to hit on a lot of their selections.
With Zac Taylor coming in as the new HC, it will be interesting to see how much of that he is allowed to play with and how much trust he is given in compiling the squad he wants.
You shouldn’t see too many heading for the exit door in terms of players but one to keep an eye on is Andy Dalton; If Taylor decides to cut ties with the Red Rifle, he would cost absolutely nothing to toss to the gutter.
Ryan Tannehill, Nick Foles, Tyrod Taylor or Teddy Bridgewater could plausibly be the week 1 starter for the Bengals should Andy Dalton be cut. Yikes. If you put a gun to my head (and let’s face it, talking about the Bengals QB situation can drive you to that) I would say Dalton stays. If he goes, I expect Tannehill to come in.
The Bengals will probably address the defence in the draft as well as the Free Agency considering the state of affairs. I would expect a number of players to come in via Free Agency but may be tough to attract the top end talent. But as Shane McMahon’s theme music would tell you, “money talks”.
Oh yeah and Zac Taylor is in at HC. A 35 year old who has never had experience as an OC in the NFL (did so at the College level for 1 year in 2016), let alone a Head Coaching position. It’s who you know that gets you a job, it’s what you know that keeps you there. I wonder how much Taylor knows.
The former Rams and prior to that, Miami Dolphins QB coach gets his shot at a head coaching gig and there are a wide range of outcomes for next year…
Outlook for Next Year
The aforementioned Zac Taylor needs to make a decision early at QB. It’s a no brainer in my eyes, but I wear glasses soooo….
If Dalton is cut by the Bengals, a transition year with a new QB could put the Bengals behind the 8 ball early. The good thing is that they are a run first team and I expect Mixon to carry the team on his back once again. They have the pieces on offence to make a challenge when all cylinders are on fire, especially with Dalton. Let’s not forget they were the pacemakers for the early part of last season. They have some pieces on defence too, but there is nothing screaming out at me about this team to say that they are going to be challenging for the division. I think the best outcome is the 6 seed with Dalton, without him, I don’t see them having a sniff. Don’t @ me. In terms of personnel, AJ Green will be 31 when the season starts and struggled with injury last season, so it’s not a reach to think he could fall off a cliff in terms of production, meaning Tyler Boyd, John Ross or any new offseason acquisitions will need to step up.
I think the Bengals are not in the greatest of positions on any front. The only thing they do have going for them is age; going in to the season, they were the youngest team in the NFL with regards to average team age. In a division where a few teams are ascending, I’m not sure we can apply that statement to the Bengals.
Zac Taylor, despite Marvin Lewis’s long leash, may not be able to get too comfy and coming from the historically legendary coaching tree of Sean McVay (insert Ryan Reynolds The Proposal face palm plane GIF), the wonder if Mike Brown and the gang allow him time. I think it’s doomed personally.
4th place finish seems most likely. Main reason being the changes at HC and potentially at QB. You don’t see many teams making the playoffs where those 2 positions changed prior to the start of the season…
Again, don’t @ me.
Andy Dalton – QB2 – will go undrafted in 1QB leagues.
Joe Mixon – RB1 – Late 1st/early 2nd round pick
AJ Green – low WR 1 /high WR 2 – late 2nd/3rd round pick
Tyler Boyd – low WR 2/ high WR 3 – 5th / 6th round pick
John Ross – WR4/WR5 – may go undrafted in most leagues.
Tyler Eifert – Do I have to?