2015/'16: The Bengals' Season
The Cincinnati Bengals are having their best season in franchise history, but last season's monkey still bears heavy on their backs. However, as a Bengals fan and Cincinnati native, this season feels different, it feels special!
With an incredible 8-0 start that showed off their well rounded roster, with great defensive players like Carlos Dunlap (one of the league leaders in sacks), along with arguably the best defensive tackle in all of football, pro bowler Geno Atkins, and to top it all off, linebacker Vontaze Burfict quarterbacking the defense while returning from a season ending knee injury. The Bengals seem to agree with the typical football philosophy that defense wins championships.
However, despite four straight first round exits, the team has signed their quarterback to a 6-year, $115 million contract. I guess the Bengals must have seen something in Andy Dalton that we all didn’t. Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t.
Dalton is second only to Tom Brady in quarterback passing rating at 111, along with 2,226 yards, passing 18 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Andy is putting these amazing numbers up because of who he has on his team. Tyler Eifert at tight end is their secret weapon, leading the league in touchdown receptions, with an astonishing nine so far. Eifert is arguably the best tight end in the league after Rob Gronkowski.
“He is a wide receiver with a tight end body”, says AJ Green, and Mr. Green himself isn’t too shabby. He has been handling business in this league as a premier wide receiver ever since he entered -- a top 5 receiver on anyone’s list.
By his side are Marvin Jones and Mohamad Sanu, the best wide receiver complement duo in the league. They both could easily be number ones on other rosters. The danger of duos doesn’t stop there for the Bengals, who also possess a two headed running game with Giovanni Bernard -- fast, small and agile and Jeremy Hill -- strong, fast and downhill. The mastermind of this offense is previous Oakland Raiders head coach, now Bengals offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson. In his second year he has really stepped up taking Andy to the next level. Hue’s creativity is second to none, with so many mixed formations, for example lining up tackles out wide, as receivers, with audibles practically every play.
Opposing defenses look confused when they line up, preparing for the inevitable odd looks they get from the Bengals. Their roster has the most talent and balance and all the players listed are all under the age of 28, in their 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th years in the league and coincidently are the faces of the franchise.
The pressure is big and the Bengals haven’t won a playoff game in 23 years. To put that into perspective, Andy Dalton was about 4 years old the last time the Bengals won. Andy and AJ both came to the league together 5 years ago, and have been awarded with huge contract extensions. They’re both relied on heavily as leaders of the team, and Coach Marvin Lewis’s job is on the line. Everyone is just curious to what happens in January; can the Bengals get over the hump?
As a Bengals fan I’ve been through the good, the bad and the ugly. But this is the year I see it finally happening -- the Bengals getting to Santa Clara at Super Bowl 50, lifting that Lombardi Trophy, and as the tough past flashes by our players and the jaws of the haters drop in amazement, because we’ll be the champions!