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Cincinnati Bengals

A Year in the Life of the Bengals – 2017

Andrew Dunn

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After months of recapping the last 20-something Bengals seasons, we’ve finally reached the most recent one… and unfortunately it’s far from the most interesting.  Much like 2016, the 2017 season was something of a test for most Bengal fans to get through.  An offense that only two years prior was one of the most talented units in the league was a shell of its former self.  Receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones had departed following the 2015 season, and an already-deteriorating offensive line would lose left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right guard Kevin Zeitler after the 2016 season.  Why do I make that point?  Well, it was the dismal offense that really defined the Bengals in 2017.

Before we dive into that, let’s re-visit the oh so long ago year 2017 and some fun facts about it.  We are all witness to a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and it was the first time it had happened coast-to-coast in 99 years.  Unbelievably, fidget spinners took the world by storm in 2017, and finally, the Star Wars franchise returns to theaters again to be the highest-grossing film of 2017 with Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Again, like 2016, the 2017 Draft didn’t yield much in the way of immediate results, but is going to really shape the 2018 squad.  In their first four picks, the Bengals selected wide receiver John Ross, controversial running back Joe Mixon, and defensive ends Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson.  All stand to have big roles as we approach the 2018 season.

The criticism of this draft was that the team made no real effort to address a mediocre-at-best offensive line.  Their lone move was a fifth-round draft pick named J.J. Dielman, a center out of Utah.  Outside of that, the Bengals re-signed Eric Winston and Andre Smith, veteran tackles whose best days were largely behind them.

The Bengals kicked off at home against a division foe, the Baltimore Ravens in front of an excited Cincinnati crowd, ready to watch some football again.  What they got was not exactly football, at least not from the Bengals – they were dismantled 20-0, complete with five turnovers from Andy Dalton.

Game two wasn’t much different, as a second straight horrible offensive performance saw the Bengals defeated by the Texans, 13-9.  After consecutive horrible performances that yielded zero touchdowns from the offense, offensive coordinator Ken Zampese was fired, with quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor stepping in as his replacement.

There were some immediate results, as the Bengals came out firing at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, taking a 21-7 lead into halftime.  Ultimately, however, the considerably-better culture that was the Packers took over, and in what seems to be vintage Bengals, they coughed up the large lead and lost the game, 27-24 in overtime.  This sent Cincinnati to their first 0-3 start since 2008.

The Bengals would score victories over the Browns and Bills to enter their bye week at 2-3, and at least gave fans some semblance of hope, even sitting a game under .500.  However, the Bengals came out of the bye week flat, dropping three of their next four games, and six of their next nine overall.  Following a Week 15 thumping in Minnesota that sent them to a 5-9 record, it seemed that there could be no doubt that this would be the final season of the Marvin Lewis regime.  The city began to ponder who would be at the helm in 2018.

And then the next two weeks happened.  The Bengals stunned two fringe playoff teams, the Lions and Ravens, respectively, to finish 7-9 behind a strong final two games.  Much to the dismay of probably 75% or better of the fanbase, Marvin Lewis was re-signed following the end of the season.  It’s this writer’s belief that Weeks 16 and 17 of 2017 saved his job.

Despite a rocky start and the overall lower-tier offense in general, Andy Dalton actually didn’t have too bad of a season.  He threw for 3,320 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  A.J. Green, as usual, benefited from Andy’s relative success, posting 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns.

Amidst another injury to Tyler Eifert that ended his season after two games, an unlikely ‘hero’ emerged at the tight end position, that being Tyler Kroft.  Kroft notched only 404 yards, but had a solid seven touchdowns, being one of Dalton’s go-to guys in the red zone.

The big headline – or lack thereof – of the receiving corps was rookie John Ross, who had himself a forgettable first run in the NFL.  Ross did not catch a pass, but did have one rushing attempt… which he fumbled.  He ended up appearing in only three games.

On the rushing side of things, it seemed the loyalty to Jeremy Hill was in full effect at the beginning of the season, as he started seven games, though he only ran the ball 37 times for 116 yards.  He wound up on IR to end the season, handing duties over to Giovani Bernard and rookie Joe Mixon.

Bernard was his usual effective self, as he averaged 4.4 yards per carry, had 458 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and added to those numbers with 43 catches for 389 yards and two scores there.  Mixon was pedestrian overall in 2017 – he ran for 626 yards and four scores, though his yards per carry left a lot to be desired at only 3.5.  He did catch 30 passes for 287 yards on top of the running game.

On defense, this unit was actually pretty good, but is largely overlooked as people remember the offensive struggles.  William Jackson III emerged as a potential star in the NFL, particularly in Week 3 when he picked off Aaron Rodgers and ran it back 75 yards to pay dirt.  It was his only interception of the season, but he did have 13 passes defended and found himself usually containing key wideouts in the league.

Rookie Carl Lawson was very impressive as he stepped into the NFL with an 8.5 sack season.  Veterans Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap (newly extended!) had 9 and 7.5 sacks respectively, and cornerback Darqueze Dennard led the team in tackles with 83.

And there you have it folks!  The NFL season begins this week, which means our journey down memory lane has come to an end!  Thank you all for enjoying the journey with me, re-living the lowest of lows in the 90’s (and the end of 2015), as well as enjoying the highest of highs (Palmer’s 2005).

Don’t worry, you can still catch me on Locked on Bengals, beginning later this week as I give you five bold predictions for the Bengals in 2018.  See you then!

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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