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Cincinnati Bengals

A Year in the Life of the Bengals – 2008

Andrew Dunn

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Having been born in 1990, I’ve encountered a lot of really bad sports seasons in my Cincinnati fandom – the mid-2000’s Reds seasons were pretty much all painful, 2010 for the Bengals was rough (we’ll get there), and the recent era of the Bengals where everyone loathes Marvin Lewis doesn’t sit well either.  Keeping in mind that I was pretty young in the 90’s, and therefore can’t recall much about the abysmal Bengals of the time (researching it just isn’t the same), the 2008 Bengals were dreadful to watch.

The offense lost the pop it had had for the last few seasons, there was growing impatience with Marvin Lewis and Chad Johnson, and the Bengals simply didn’t win many games.  There had only been one playoff season in the Lewis era at this point, but the team had at least been around the .500 mark, a marked improvement from the doldrums of the 90’s.  What brought this team to such a screeching halt?

We’ll get to that, but first, our fun facts – which, by the way, were slim-pickin’s this week.  The Dark Knight was the year’s top movie, which stunned me that that movie is now that old.  Flo Rida and T-Pain topped music charts with Low, singing about apple-bottom jeans and furry boots.  And one that I had to choose from a personal standpoint – 2008 marked the second season of Kitchen Nightmares, which was Gordon Ramsey’s version of Bar Rescue.  If you don’t know what either of those are, I apologize.  To the point – every restaurant that Chef Ramsey “saved” on season two of the show wound up closing following his trips to each place.

On the positive side, 2008 was the first season Mike Zimmer took over as the team’s defensive coordinator, replacing Chuck Bresnahan whose contract had expired at the end of 2007.  Past that, the offseason was very similar to 2007 for our Bengals – lots of losses to free agency and a Draft that was, overall, a miss.

The Bengals lost four starters, one of which was All-Pro defensive end Justin Smith, who left town for San Francisco.  They also lost safety Madieu Williams, veteran offensive tackle Willie Anderson, and running back Rudi Johnson.  In addition, given wide receiver Chris Henry’s ongoing legal problems, the team wound up cutting him, with Marvin Lewis declaring he would never play for the Bengals again.  It wasn’t long before Henry was brought back, but had to first serve a four-game suspension.

And finally, the Odell Thurman issue was finally put to bed.  He was reinstated to the league before training camp after two full seasons of suspensions, but the Bengals waived him.  He wound up violating the league’s substance abuse policy, and was suspended from the NFL indefinitely.

On the Draft side of things, the 2008 class had some names you probably remember – Keith Rivers, Jerome Simpson, Pat Sims, Andre Caldwell, and Anthony Collins.  Those guys had their moments, especially Collins’ showing in recent years before he left for Tampa Bay and the big money, but it would be hard to consider that draft class any better than ‘okay’.

And here we are, at the start of the season… which ultimately ended with the team going 4-11-1.  They opened the season 0-8 before finally upending the Jacksonville Jaguars as they went into their Week 10 bye.  A 13-13 tie against the Eagles followed, and Cincinnati would close the season with three straight wins to rebound from a really bad 1-11-1 start.

A huge reason for the 2008 struggles had to do with Carson Palmer.  He started the first three games of the season, as well as the fifth game, before it was determined he had a partially torn ligament and tendon in his elbow.  Palmer passed on Tommy John surgery, but his need to rest the injury and not throw ended his season.  Enter Ryan Fitzpatrick, who has managed to find a way into a starting lineup everywhere he’s been…. I have conspiracy theories about the guy.

Fitz was, in a word, bad.  In Palmer’s absence, he threw for 1,905 yards and eight touchdowns, but he threw nine interceptions and fumbled a whopping seven times.  This was still very early in Fitzpatrick’s career, but it stands as one of his worst showings in his storied career.

TJ Houshmandzadeh, Chris Henry, and Chad Johnson suffered mightily due to the quarterback issues.  Chad notched his worst season in a Bengals’ uniform since his rookie year, reeling in 53 passes (on 97 targets) for 540 yards and four touchdowns – it’s also worth noting that he missed three games.  Henry managed 19 catches and two scores in his limited action.  Houshmandzadeh actually wasn’t bad, catching 92 balls for 904 yards and four touchdowns of his own.

A new look running game began to take shape following Rudi Johnson’s departure – former first-round pick Cedric Benson joined the Bengals in 2008, and he racked up 747 yards and two touchdowns.  Those aren’t too impressive, but he only had ten starts.  Chris Perry saw increased workloads as well, but failed to take advantage – he logged 269 yards on a very disappointing 2.6 yards per carry.

While Zimmer had taken over the defensive duties, there wasn’t much to write home about on that side of the ball either.  Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph were okay in coverage (‘okay’ being used since we know how good these two would end up being), and Dhani Jones logged one of his best seasons with hands in three turnovers and 75 tackles.  But, with Smith gone, there were no true playmakers left for the defense to lean on.

And with 2008 (mercifully) behind us, we arrive at 2009, which was another season that featured the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but the lows we experienced as a city and franchise in 2009 stretched far from the football field.  It’s one of the seasons I’ve really been looking forward to talking about, so join me next week as we inch closer towards the beginning of 2018!

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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