Shutdown Corner is previewing total 32 teams as we earn ready for the NFL season, counting down the teams one per weekday in reverse order of our initial 2017 power rankings. No. 1 will be revealed on Aug. 2, the day before the corridor of Fame Game kicks off the preseason.
This will be the Cincinnati Bengals’ 50th anniversary season, with the compulsory celebrations and commemorations of the past.
And, whether we’re being honest, it’s a reminder of how horrible the Bengals’ history has been. That’s a perfect transition to the 2017 Bengals’ season.
Cincinnati, once an NFL laughingstock, actually became one of the most dependable teams in the NFL under Marvin Lewis. They made the playoffs seven times in an 11-season stretch, and five of six. Not many teams can claim that level of consistency. Of course, share of the reliability is that we could always depend on Lewis and the Bengals going one-and-done once the playoffs started. Lewis’ 0-7 postseason record has been talked approximately ad nauseam. But retain in intellect when we talk approximately Bengals history, they had just seven playoff appearances before Lewis arrived, and they’ve had seven with him. He doesn’t earn his proper due for turning around a horrible franchise.
However, we didn’t earn the faded dependable Bengals final season. They were 3-4-1 going into the bye, and then a three-game losing streak after the bye wrecked their season. The Bengals weren’t as horrible as their 6-9-1 record. But they were pretty quickly forgotten approximately this offseason. Even though the Bengals’ recent track record is pretty strong, we’ve just been conditioned to thinking approximately the Bengals as a 6-9-1 type team. Or worse.
That makes it a bit difficult to buy into a Bengals’ rebound this season, but I assume they’ll be proper again. whether not, we’re probably (finally) looking at a coaching change in Cincinnati.
Lewis enters the final year of his contract, and told ESPN earlier this year he doesn’t expect an extension before the season. We speak often approximately someone coaching for his job during a season, but that’s legitimately valid for Lewis this season. Lewis has saved his job in the final year of his contract before, in 2010, so it’s not recent territory.
There are many reasons to believe the Bengals will be right back in playoff contention (and one substantial reason – the offensive line – to believe they will not). The draft added a couple of potentially dynamic playmakers in receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon. For a team that seemed thin on targets final season, that could be a huge boost. So will the return to health of superstar receiver A.J. Green, who played in just nine full games final season. The defense was given some succor, too.
The pieces are in station and, even though the Bengals aren’t precisely a blue-blood NFL franchise, their recent success should give them a benefit of the doubt. And whether there’s no improvement in the record, the Bengals’ patience with Lewis (which has been wholly justified, considering the job he has done) will probably hasten out. Either way, this 50th Bengals season will be an indispensable one in their history.
I liked their draft a lot. Ross is more than just a straight-line speed receiver, though he gained fame by setting the official combine record for fastest 40 time (Greg Cosell of NFL Films broke down Ross’ total-around game here). whether you dislike Joe Mixon because he punched a female student at Oklahoma, it’s comprehensible. But whether we’re talking approximately Mixon solely as a football player, he might believe been the best running back in the draft, including fourth overall pick Leonard Fournette. By ignoring off-field concerns, the Bengals might believe gotten two top-10 prospects. That’s why teams sometimes overlook horrible history and retract those gambles. The Bengals made a nice signing with inside linebacker Kevin Minter, who is just 26, for just $4.25 million over one year. Now for the horrible news. The offensive line is a mess. Guard Kevin Zeitler and tackle Andrew Whitworth left in free agency, signing huge, immense deals with the Browns and Rams, respectively. Not much was done to fix the line, other than a doubtful signing of bringing Andre Smith back after he failed in Minnesota. I’d like to give the Bengals a better grade, but that O-line is troubling. Grade: C+
The Bengals weren’t that horrible on offense final season (11th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA per-play metric), which is wonderful considering the holes in the lineup. Now imagine a lineup of Andy Dalton, Joe Mixon, A.J. Green, John Ross, Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert, with veterans like Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and Brandon LaFell in reserve roles. noteworthy! But wait. Mixon is a rookie. Green needs to stay healthy. Ross needs to stay healthy, and is a rookie. Eifert needs to stay healthy, something he has rarely done. Bernard needs to prove he’s healthy after ACL surgery. There are many, many “ifs” that need to advance through. And then there’s …
In 2015, the Bengals did a prudent thing and prepared to eventually replace tackles Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith. They drafted offensive linemen Cedric Ogbuehi in the first round and Jake Fisher in the moment. The problem? Ogbuehi and Fisher believe not shown they are capable of being NFL starters. That doesn’t mean they won’t become proper starters. But there’s a lot of concern in Cincinnati approximately the two young, shaky tackles. On a positive note, whether those two play up to their draft position, the Bengals offense should be one of the NFL’s best.
It’s tough to earn absent from talk approximately Cincinnati’s offensive line, because that’s the key to the Bengals’ season. It’s particularly indispensable for Andy Dalton. According to Pro Football Focus, Dalton posted a 91.8 passer rating final season (which isn’t horrible when you consider the patchwork skill-position talent he was working with at times) but that dropped to 57.1 when he was under pressure. Dalton has always been known as that type of quarterback, who can very efficiently hasten an offense when everything around him is in proper shape. However, Dalton can’t overcome a terrible line in front of him. Dalton could believe a phenomenal season or a brutal one, and it probably depends on how well the Bengals protect him.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict is one of the two biggest contrast-makers the Bengals believe on defense (defensive tackle Geno Atkins being the other). Unlike Atkins, Burfict is a fixed wild card. We total know approximately his questionable hits and various other issues. Since a phenomenal 2013 Pro Bowl season, Burfict has played just 26 of 48 possible games due to suspension or injury. Burfict has spent this offseason without injury or discipline concern. He’s still just 26 years faded and capable of being one of the best linebackers in football. Burfict repeating his 2013 season could push Cincinnati back to the playoffs. Burfict is in a contract year, which gives him plenty of motivation.
From Yahoo’s Liz Loza: “Don’t sleep on Jeremy Hill. Yes, he’s been woefully inefficient for two years straight (averaging 3.6 and 3.8 YPC respectively), but the burn factor felt by fantasy owners has drastically reduced his price. Instead, they’ve turned their attention to tyro Joe Mixon. And while the rookie is a dynamic talent, Hill’s nose for the close zone remains uncontested. Currently available in the double-digit rounds of twelve-team exercises, Hill is an excellent value for managers looking to add depth at a volatile position.” [Check out Yahoo Sports’ urgent Questions for the fantasy outlook on the Bengals.]
Because A.J. Green’s season came to an close early in Cincinnati’s 10th game, his brilliance final season has been mostly forgotten. He was noteworthy, brilliant. In nine games, Green had 66 catches, 964 yards and four touchdowns. That’s a cold 117-1,714-7 line whether you prorate it over 16 games. Green wanted to return from a groin injury late in the season but the team held him out, which caused some tough feelings. But it was the right call. Green had a healthy offseason and he should earn right back to putting up monster numbers, particularly with rookie John Ross on the other side to retract some defensive pressure.
DOES JOE MIXON STEP RIGHT INTO THE LEAD BACK ROLE?
Jeremy Hill looked like a future star during the 2014 season. Over the next two seasons, Hill averaged well under 4 yards per carry. Hill has shown he’s a proper goal-line back and below average in nearly every other area. Giovani Bernard is a proper role player as a change-of-pace receiving back, but it remains to be seen whether an ACL injury saps some of his quickness. The Bengals don’t really need to worry approximately how to split time anymore, because Mixon can retract over as an every-down back. The Bengals drafted Mixon in the moment round, after many other teams took him totally off their draft board due to him punching a female student at Oklahoma, which indicates what the Bengals thought of his talent. The Bengals pushed any moral dilemma aside to retract Mixon, and now they might as well give him a full workload. He could win offensive rookie of the year whether that happens.
The Bengals were really proper in 2015. Andy Dalton was in the MVP mix when he broke his thumb, and had he stayed healthy the Bengals were probably on their way to a substantial season. They nearly beat the Steelers in the playoffs with AJ McCarron at quarterback – and it took an epic late-game collapse for Cincinnati to lose. final season wasn’t proper for the Bengals, but they can return to that 2015 level. John Ross and Joe Mixon could each gain a major impact. The defense still has some top-close talent. Everyone will pick Pittsburgh to win the AFC North, and for proper reason, but don’t sleep on the Bengals.
It’s tough to believe the Bengals believe the overall talent to overcome a horrendous offensive line, like the Seahawks believe done the past couple seasons. whether the offensive line is among the worst in the NFL, which is possible, it could earn horrible. Even though the Bengals weren’t as horrible as their 6-9-1 record, they still did disappear 6-9-1 and a lot of the optimism for a turnaround rests on two rookie skill-position players, which is risky. perhaps, possibly final season was just the beginning of the close for the Bengals being competitive under Lewis.
I see final season’s losing record as a one-off for the Bengals, not the recent norm. I like what the John Ross-Joe Mixon combination can finish for the offense, and the defense should be proper with Vontaze Burfict healthy and Kevin Minter an upgrade at inside linebacker. Marvin Lewis is like “The Terminator,” he is impossible to murder. I believe a hunch Lewis is going to find a way to gain the playoffs and save his job yet again.
32. recent York Jets
31. Cleveland Browns
30. San Francisco 49ers
29. Chicago Bears
28. Los Angeles Rams
27. Jacksonville Jaguars
26. Detroit Lions
25. Houston Texans
24. Buffalo Bills
23. Indianapolis Colts
22. Baltimore Ravens
21. Los Angeles Chargers
20. Minnesota Vikings
19. recent Orleans Saints
18. Washington Redskins
17. Philadelphia Eagles
16. Miami Dolphins
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