Here’s a thought we haven’t really had yet in our in walk down memory lane (or…. Ever) – that this 2000 Bengals team was 4-12 is something they should be proud of. You just wait – the inaugural season at Paul Brown Stadium was an utter disaster.
Much to the dismay of those with pre-ordered headstones dated 19–, the year 2000 was an interesting year. We all survived the chaos that was Y2K (lol), and that meant a few things. People were glued to the television as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire topped the ratings for a good chunk of the year. Weirdly, How the Grinch Stole Christmas was the top movie of the year… while Meet the Parents was further down the list. And my personal favorite – this was the year Blockbuster turned down the opportunity to buy Netflix for $50 million. Netflix is now worth more than $100 billion, while Blockbuster is effectively non-existent.
Unfortunately, back to the topic at hand. 2000 kicked off with whatever the opposite of a bang is. After dropping the PBS opener to the Cleveland Browns, followed by consecutive shutouts, head coach Bruce Coslet mercifully retired, bringing his less-than-stellar reign at the helm to an end. In stepped Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach Dick LeBeau… who lost his first three games.
For those keeping track at home, that means the team started 0-6 before finally picking up a victory Week 8 against the Denver Broncos. In that game, Corey Dillon torched the Broncos’ defense for 278 yards, a franchise record that still stands today. He rushed for 1,435 yards that season (also a franchise record that still stands) and seven touchdowns, being the lone high point on offense.
And then there was the passing game. Akili Smith and Scott Mitchell combined for six passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Again, this offense was horrific outside of Dillon – the team was shut out three times, and scored under 10 points in five other games. So, yes, they scored fewer than 10 points in half of their games in 2000.
Meanwhile, they had used the fourth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft on wide receiver Peter Warrick, who had a nice rookie season to the tune of 592 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Considering the quarterback play of Smith and Mitchell, those are crazy good numbers.
The defense wasn’t tremendous either, as Takeo Spikes was the only real standout, recording over 100 tackles, two sacks and two interceptions. Not to take anything away from Spikes as he was a terrific linebacker, but it makes sense that he had great numbers since the defense seemingly never left the field.
There were even struggles on Special Teams. The Bengals had moved on from Doug Pelfrey, drafting Neil Rackers out of Illinois with the 169th selection in the draft.
Rackers was 12/21 on field goals that season – I’m going to see Rackers’ numbers as a Bengal in the coming weeks, but I remember laughing even back then when he would take the field. No offense, of course, personally to Rackers, but I recall his tenure in Cincinnati being REALLY bad.
This has to be the most painful season we’ve come across this far into our look at history. In the early and mid-1990’s, you could see where guys like Carl Pickens (whose time in Cincinnati ended in 2000, by the way) and early parts of Jeff Blake gave fans optimism. What was there in this era to be hopeful for? Akili Smith was very clearly not going to be the answer, and you had another one man show in Corey Dillon as he took over for the aforementioned Pickens.
A little peak into next week – the arrival of Kitna, Houshmandzadeh, and Ochocinco. The beginning of the good stuff is coming soon!