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It always seems like it’s one step forward, two giant leaps back for the Cincinnati Bengals. In 2015, Cincinnati enjoyed a regular season as strong contenders out of the AFC North, but had their playoff aspirations crushed by undisciplined play in the midst of a chaotic playoff game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, won by Pittsburgh, 18-16. 2015 was just another season in which Cincinnati’s squad held high hopes, but inevitably plummeted. Postseason failure has always been a recurring theme in Bengals franchise history. When written out on paper, they’ve always managed to field an attractive roster, but that’s the issue: it’s on paper, not the football field. Whatever the Football God’s have against the city of Cincinnati, or the whole state of Ohio for that matter, it doesn’t appear to be getting much better this upcoming season.
Andy Dalton seemingly improves with every season, but continually hits a snag in the month of December. Dalton is constantly hyped up, but consistently leads Bengals fans down a road of disappointment. At this point, there’s no reason to believe anybody in that organization will be able to turn things around for the entire team in their 2017 campaign, but the fanbase will continually rely of Dalton to do just that. When Dalton puts up MVP numbers for the first twelve weeks of the season, don’t be surprised when the wheels fall off at the worst possible time.
For Dalton to find any success with any form of longevity, the backfield must step up. That’s easier said than done, as controversial second round pick Joe Mixon headlines the running back position. Putting Mixon’s heinous domestic abuse charge behind him, he was arguably the best running back in a deep running back draft class. His talent, paired with a dominant offensive line, could help carry Dalton and the Bengals through the last quarter of the regular season and into the playoffs. It doesn’t mean they will, but it’s the optimism that keeps the fans engaged.
The Bengals receiving core improved with the addition of rookie speedster John Ross and gets a boost with the return of a healthy Tyler Eifert at the tight end position will also help improve the core’s subpar performance last season.
The Bengals defense lost several key players over the offseason and a few more key defenders have dealt with their fair share of disciplinary issues on and off the field. Until their organization can move past previous mistakes and seasons, they’ll experience difficulty moving forward into the future of Bengals football.
When thinking about the Bengals, the first thing that pops to mind is how talented their roster has looked in the past until they hit the field on game day. Unfortunately, it seems like nothing ever goes right for the Bengals. Maybe this is the year it all changes; don’t hold your breath though.