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Cincinnati Bengals

A Year in the Life of the Bengals – 2007

Andrew Dunn

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With a disappointing 2006 season in the rearview mirror, the city of Cincinnati seemed to be in the same sort of limbo that we find ourselves in 11 years later here in 2018.  It was hard to know what to make of the Bengals for this season – coming off a heartbreaking end to the 2005 season and collapsing as 2006 came to a close, it almost felt as though the tide had shifted, despite some solid talent still dressing in orange and black.

As things changed in the Queen City, a new invention (Time Magazine’s Invention of the Year in 2007, incidentally) was taking the world by storm – the iPhone.  It was initially released this year at a low cost of $599.  Speaking of crazy, 2007 could be considered rock bottom for pop star Britney Spears, as this was the year in which she shaved her head.  And finally, to cap off this week’s fun facts section that apparently has been brought to you by the word “crazy” – Oklahoma declared the watermelon the state vegetable.  I know what you’re thinking, and it’s not a typo…. That is actually a thing.

The 2007 offseason was not really one of the better ones for the Bengals – after several offseasons in a row of good roster moves and drafts, the wheels sort of began to fall off.  The team lost many veterans from the roster without really replacing them – those being safety Kevin Kaesviharn, guard Eric Steinbach, linebacker Brian Simmons, cornerback Tory James, and center Rich Braham retired.  Not all of these guys (or, any of them really) would be considered stars, but they all were effective players that left town without adequate replacements.

Hindsight also tells us that the Bengals really didn’t fare much better in the Draft – their lone pick that really panned out was first-rounder Leon Hall, who would form a top five cornerback duo with Johnathan Joseph in time.  Second-round pick Kenny Irons – a running back from Auburn – had the town buzzing once his name was called, but wound up injuring his knee in the preseason.  Irons would miss the entirety of 2006, and ultimately never played a down of regular season NFL football.

Finally, the team dealt with suspensions and more off the field problems.  Chris Henry continued to land himself in legal trouble, which led to an eight game suspension for him in 2007, taking away one of Carson Palmer’s most elusive weapons.  Linebacker Odell Thurman applied for reinstatement to the league after missing all of 2006 serving a suspension, but due to another run-in with the law, was denied and subsequently suspended for all of 2007.  As I referenced last week, Thurman never did make his way back onto an NFL field.

So, right off the bat, it’s clear that the Bengals are behind the eight ball.  They opened the season with a primetime matchup against the Ravens on ESPN, which they won 27-20.  Unfortunately, the glimmer of hope that Week 1 gave Cincinnati didn’t last.  They went on to lose their next four games, and begin the season 2-6 overall, effectively ending the season by the halfway point.

The Bengals wound up winning three of their final four games to claw their way to a 7-9 record.  For the record – one of those final three wins (Week 16) was a 19-14 home victory over the Cleveland Browns, which would ultimately be a key reason why the Browns missed the playoffs in 2007 (they finished 10-6, finishing behind the Titans for the AFC 6th seed).

The offense wasn’t quite as electric as it had been in prior years, as Palmer appeared to be a bit more human this year.  He racked up 4,131 yards with 26 touchdowns and 20 interceptions.  Those aren’t terrible numbers by any means, but a near 1:1 TD/INT ratio isn’t great.  And, as I mentioned in the 2005 piece, Palmer never quite looked the same following his knee injury… but that’s just this writer’s opinion.

Rudi Johnson’s run (no pun intended) as the Bengals’ lead back came to a screeching halt, as he managed only 497 yards and three scores in 11 games, averaging under three yards per carry.  With the aforementioned Irons and Chris Perry (yep, he’s still around here in 2007) injured on the season, Kenny Watson was tasked with filling in for the struggling Johnson.  He had what would wind up being his career year, collecting 763 yards on 4.3 yards per carry and seven touchdowns.  Not bad for a guy who’d entered the league in 2002 and missed two full seasons because he wasn’t employed.

It wasn’t all bad – Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh became, without debate, a top five receiving tandem in the NFL (probably best overall if not for the crazy 2007 Patriots team).  The two Oregon State products combined for 205 receptions (TJ’s first over 100), an amazing 2,583 yards (more than half of Palmer’s total), and 20 touchdowns.

The downside to this is that it was around this time that the Chad Johnson antics began to wear on a lot of Bengal fans.  His endzone celebrations, media quotes, etc. weren’t everyone’s cups of tea, and from my standpoint, it appeared that most people thought it was all fine in small doses.  But it became a constant thing for Ochocinco.

Unfortunately, the defense struggled much more than the offense – this was a team that allowed 20 or more points in all but four games.  Johnathan Joseph and the rookie Leon Hall combined for nine interceptions, marking the rise of their defensive tandem.  The only other defensive bit of info of significance is this – Justin Smith, an established star defensive end – recorded only two sacks in 2007 despite playing in all 16 games.  It may be worth noting here that Smith was on the team under the franchise tag.  This wound up being his last season in Cincinnati.

Once this team struggled in 2007, this was when the rumbling surrounding Marvin Lewis really began.  No, it wasn’t nearly as loud or prominent as it is in 2018, but the window had basically closed on what appeared to be a top-notch team, and only one playoff appearance was shown for it.

Sadly, next week is much of the same – free agents leave, a so-so Draft, but an abysmal season.  Guess that’s not great advertising is it?

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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