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Cincinnati Bengals

A Year in the Life of the Bengals – 2006

Andrew Dunn

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Following a heart-wrenching ending to the 2005 season that featured a devastating injury to Carson Palmer, hopes were still high in Cincinnati for a 2006 Super Bowl run.  Even with Palmer bouncing back from a major knee injury, he’d burst onto the scene with an MVP-caliber season the year prior.  Sadly for us in the Queen City, 2006 would ultimately mark a return to the dark ages of prior seasons, and also had late-season meltdowns we’ve grown so used to in the last decade.

Fun fact – your friendly writer of this walk down memory lane was named Time Magazine Person of the Year.  True story.  Or, rather, ‘You’ was the winner.  Beyonce topped the music charts with Irreplaceable, and the social media age kicked into full swing.  Users all over the world were using MySpace, but Twitter was created in 2006, and Facebook became open to all individuals over the age of 13.  More fun facts about that Facebook note – Mark Zuckerberg was offered $1 billion by Yahoo for Facebook, which he turned in “LOL nah” fashion.  The man is now worth over $72 billion, so I think he’s okay with his decision.

Yet another solid draft from the Bengals set expectations higher, as the team landed four guys who would be key pieces of the team for the next handful of years.  Johnathan Joseph (24th overall) and Andrew Whitworth (55th) became top five players at their positions in time, while Frostee Rucker (91st) and Domata Peko (123rd) were good additions to a defensive line in need of upgrades, outside of Justin Smith, of course.

We’ll get to the games and season momentarily, but it’s worth mentioning here that 2006 was a year marred by legal troubles in Cincinnati, which has continued to hover around the team as something of a bad reputation.  All told, nine players would be arrested over the course of the offseason and regular season.  Among those, second-year receiver Chris Henry had four separate incidents, Eric Steinbach was arrested for boating under the influence, and veteran cornerback Deltha O’Neal got caught driving while intoxicated.

Odell Thurman, who was incredible during his 2005 rookie campaign, was arrested for a DUI while in the midst of a four-game suspension he was already serving.  He would wind up sitting out 2006 altogether, and the shame of all this is that Thurman’s final NFL game would wind up being that 2005 playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, ultimately making him one of the biggest what-ifs that I can think of.

This slew of legal troubles played one of the big parts in what became the downward spiral of this era in Cincinnati.

Onto the season – the Bengals went 8-8, finishing in 2nd place in the AFC North behind the 13-3 Baltimore Ravens.  Palmer jumped back under center and had a Pro Bowl season to the tune of 4,035 yards, 28 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.  Rudi Johnson also registered another stellar season, finishing with 1,309 yards and 12 touchdowns.

And, of course, with the success of Palmer came success of three Bengals wide outs.  TJ Houshmandzadeh led the team with 90 catches, racking up 1,081 yards and nine scores.  Chad Johnson continued to stand out as a league trash talker and something of a distraction (he would unveil the Chad Ocho Cinco jersey this season), but also as a top-tier receiver, as he totaled 1,369 yards and seven touchdowns.  Finally, the young Henry had nine touchdowns on his own, which came on only 36 receptions.

Robert Geathers was one of the standout defensive performers, pacing the team with 10.5 sacks, with All-Pro defensive end Justin Smith just behind him with 7.5.  Landon Johnson filled in admirably in Thurman’s absence and after the David Pollack injury (more on that in a bit) with 132 tackles and three forced fumbles.  And while Detlha O’Neal and the rookie Joseph stood out in the secondary, it was Kevin Kaesviharn’s four sacks, six picks and forced fumble that topped the list.

The Bengals began the season with a dominating defensive performance against the Kansas City Chiefs, helped by an injury to Chiefs’ quarterback Trent Green (on a hit Robert Geathers would’ve been crucified for in today’s NFL).  The beat rolled on for a couple weeks as the Bengals started 3-0 following wins over the Browns and at Heinz Field over the Steelers (yes, really).

Note about that game two win over the Browns – this was the game that effectively ended David Pollack’s career.  Pollack suffered a C6 vertebra fracture, a non-paralyzing broken neck, which marked the end of his 2006 season.  He would get cleared for some light activity in early 2007 following months of rehab, but would wind up retiring later down the road, not willing to risk his overall health after the injury.

The team was in prime position for another playoff run as a Wild Card team late in the season as they sat at 8-5.  They dropped game 14 on a Monday Night in Indianapolis (shocked?), which led to a key matchup with the Denver Broncos on Christmas Eve 2006.  Late in the game, Palmer connected with Houshmandzadeh on a 10-yard touchdown pass, pulling the Bengals within an extra point of tying the Broncos.

I remember this vividly – family and friends, gathered to celebrate the holidays, began clapping and high-fiving, while my dad and I looked at each other nervously (yep, I was a little pessimist even then).  My 16-year old pessimism piped up loud enough to try to remind everyone of the extra point that was still to come… and sure enough, the beginning of the Cincinnati sports curse was upon us.

The extra point snap sailed through holder Kyle Larson’s hands, the conversion was no good, and the Bengals would lose 24-23 to fall to 8-7.  One week later, the Bengals lost their home finale in overtime against the Steelers, a shame since their entire playoff scenario had played into their favor.  That is to say that had they won, the Bengals would have been playoff-bound again.  But, the Steelers were the spoilers once more, as they finished 8-8 alongside Cincinnati.

It was a disappointing end to what should’ve been a much more enjoyable season for Bengals fans.  There was an expectation that this team could follow up a tremendous 11-5 season and overcome the injury to Palmer.  However, injuries and legal troubles contributed to overall struggles on the field, leading the Bengals back into the depths of…. Non-playoffness.

Next week comes 2007, which was the last season in which the Cleveland Browns had a winning record (just in case Bengals and Reds woes have you down).  Tune in next week to see how our Bengals fared!

Andrew graduated from the University of Kentucky (direct your hate tweets to @atdu222) with a degree in Business Management and minor in Communications. You can find some of his previous works on Bleacher Report. Andrew is a lifelong fan of the Cincinnati Bengals and Reds... he was born in 1990, so his life as a sports fan has been pretty crappy until you extend the boundaries to Lexington. Andrew works full time for Western & Southern Financial Group and is married with a 1 year old daughter.

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Cincinnati Bengals

Three-Wide Set, All My Bengals

Jeffery Carr

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© David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

There was a soap opera that was on television, when I was a kid, that I would see when I stayed home sick from school. Figured the title fits what has happened with the Bengals the last few days, so I tweaked it for this week’s three-wide set, what’d you think?

  1. Teryl Austin out, Marvin Lewis in…again.So the most obvious move, ever, happened Monday with the separation of the Bengals and their defunct defensive director. Austin seemed like a good guy, and all, but his defense was horrendous. In case you’ve lived under a rock and are just now delving into the Bengals 2018 season, they are last in all the NFL in yards allowed. Somehow, they are not last, but second to last in points allowed. In fact, as Jay Morrison remarked on Twitter, the Bengals are 11th in points scored this season, but 28th in point differential. That’s how bad this defense has been. One more oh wow moment with bad defense is I am pretty sure, without looking, that the last two Bengals opponents haven’t punted. (Checks stats) Ok, they forced two punts in the Buccaneers game. That being said, opposing offenses had converted over 50% of their third down attempts against the Cincinnati defense. That’s not great. Oh, and one more, one more, oh wow moment: the Bengals became the first team in NFL history to allow 500+ yards in three-straight games…okay, I am done.
    Enter Marvin to “fix” the defense. Not sure it can be done, at this point, but to be real, it can’t get worse. Like, when you’re last, you can’t be more last. Just like if you’re dead, you can’t die again. Yet, somehow, with the worst defense in the league, the Bengals are not dead.  Lewis can schematically fix the defense (which doesn’t help the tackling) and may be able to up the ante on the pass rush, as this defense has been the most passive I’ve seen since Marvin came aboard, but will it be enough? If they pull out a win this Sunday in Baltimore, it will put them in a nice spot for the 2nd wild card spot, if they don’t get it together and lose to Baltimore then the three-wide set might start looking at three draft prospects for the Bengals, each week.
  1. Hue Jackson is back, again again. Welcome back home Mike Brown’s favorite son not named Marvin. The prodigal son returns as he, once again, tried to take his inheritance and go off to another team to make a name for himself, only to find himself, yet again, an assistant on the Bengals coaching staff. This time it’s very Dwight Schrute-esque as he is the “Special Assistant to the Head Coach.” Read that, “assistant to the head coach,” not “assistant head coach.” Here’s hoping Bill Lazor puts his stapler in jello.
    I really do not know how to feel. The “in the moment” side of me likes it for the simple fact he can provide inside info on the Browns, who the Bengals haven’t played, and he might be able to help out a now double-duty Marvin. But the “big picture” side of me hates this. Now it gives a reason for Mike Brown to let go of Marvin Lewis, after his contract expires, and seamlessly transition to another coach he likes. Brown now doesn’t have to go through the necessary, desperately needed painful process of interviewing new coaches who could possibly provide fresh-thinking to a team that desperately needs it. Instead he can hand over the keys to the coach’s office, without any hullabaloo, to a man who does not deserve it (objectively) but, rather, is someone who Mike Brown sees as a son. Ugh…
  1. John Ross scored! That’s right, much congratulations to the man who has endured a lot of criticism, a lot of vitriol, a lot of unnecessary hate…I am talking, of course, about our fearless podcast host, James Rapien. I thought Ross looked good, I thought Andy was bad. JR15 was getting separation, making some guys miss on their coverage…and the ball fell short. Dalton underthrew him. What was the joke when Ross was drafted? “Great, now we can have the fastest dude in the NFL for Andy to still overthrow.” Well, he wasn’t overthrown, he was underthrown. Seriously, there was a tweet, can’t remember who (probably Joe Goodberry), that showed all of John Ross’ targets. The ones he didn’t catch, were bad throws. Plain and simple. Those who criticize Ross are not looking at the whole picture. I think he gets better and I think Andy can build a rapport with him, maybe even this week at Baltimore. Point is, fans and haters, John Ross is going to be just fine.

This is the biggest game of the year, this Sunday, at M&T Bank stadium. Last year, the Bengals knocked the Ravens out of the playoffs there. Will the Ravens get revenge? Or will the Bengals continue their recent dominance over the Ravens (eight wins in the last 10 games)? Stay tuned!

Follow @jefffcarr and @lockedonBengals for more Cincinnati professional football content

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Cincinnati Bengals

Reacting to Austin’s firing and our film review with Joe Goodberry

James Rapien

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I discuss the Bengals firing defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, Marvin Lewis taking over for him, plus Joe Goodberry joins me for our weekly film review. We talk about the Bengals’ 51-14 loss to the Saints, what can be fixed on defense, their issues on offense and more. Listen and subscribe to the podcast below.

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Cincinnati Bengals

The Saints march all over the Bengals 51-14

James Rapien

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The Saints dismantled the Bengals 51-14 on Sunday afternoon. Cincinnati falls to 5-4 and continues to struggle following a 4-1 start to the season. I recapped them game, discussed the defensive struggles, plus hear from Drew Brees, John Ross and I respond to your voicemails on a postgame edition of the Locked on Bengals podcast. Listen and subscribe below.

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