From 2009-2015, the Cincinnati Bengals made the National Football League Playoffs six times, but they failed to win a postseason game. And overall you have to go back to the 1990 NFL season to find the last time in which the Bengals won a playoff game. 2016 was an injury plagued year for the Bengals as they limped to a 6-9-1 finish for their first losing season since 2010. There was some optimism for the Bengals heading into a new season as players such as wide receiver A.J. Green who was limited due to a hamstring injury in 2016 were now healthy, but that positive vibe has left the Queen City.
The Bengals started off to a start of 0-3 this season, and it has never got better for them after that. The Bengals were the only team in the National Football League that didn’t score an offensive touchdown in their first two games as they were limited to a paltry nine points.
For Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, he attempted to kick start his struggling offense as following the Bengals loss to the Houston Texans in Week 2, Ken Zampese was fired as the team’s offensive coordinator. Zampese was replaced by Bill Lazor who joined the Bengals last season as the team’s quarterbacks coach. And following Zampese’s departure, Lazor was expected to jumpstart an offense in Cincinnati that was 24th in the National Football League in total offense when he took over. But although that Zampese became the first casualty in Cincinnati this year, there is plenty of blame to go around for this organization.
Following the death of longtime Bengals owner Paul Brown in 1991, his son Mike began to run the team. Following that year the Bengals would only have one non-losing season for the remainder of the 1990’s as they were done in by poor draft decisions. That era for Bengals would see them use a pair of first-round draft picks on quarterbacks David Klingler and Akili Smith who combined to go 7-34 during their respective tenures as Cincinnati’s starting quarterback. But Brown then appeared to finally strike gold in 2003 when he hired Lewis to be the Bengals head coach.
In each of Lewis’ first four seasons with the Bengals, the team never had a losing season and in 2005, they won the AFC North for the first time in franchise history. Including this season Lewis’ record as the head coach of the Bengals in 121-111-3. Lewis had led the Bengals to seven playoff appearances, but he has yet to win a playoff game, and it appears that he won’t get another opportunity.
Following the home loss this past Sunday to the Chicago Bears in which the Bengals were dominated 33-7, all signs point to Cincy missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. And once you factor in that Lewis is in the final year of contract while Brown has been known to be a cheap owner, the Bengals will more than likely be looking for a new head coach heading into next season, but will it really matter?
With Brown leading the way the Bengals have a culture that is not what you want to see out of a championship team. In recent years the stripes on the Bengals uniform can also represent the consistent run-ins with law enforcement that some of the team’s players have had. The Bengals have lacked accountability which has translated over to the football field where at times they’ve gone out of their way to lose games.
Even after Cincinnati’s slow start of 0-3, they entered play two weeks ago controlling their own destiny in order to make the playoffs. The Bengals were 5-6 and were set to host the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. But in typical Bengals fashion they went out of their way to lose the game.
The Bengals squandered a 17-point lead to the Steelers which was followed up by their drubbing at the hands of the Bears. And things won’t get any better on Sunday for the Bengals when they’ll travel to face the Minnesota Vikings who are a victory away from clinching the NFC North.
Lewis is more than likely out the door once the season ends ,but Cincinnati still has a huge question mark which surrounds starting quarterback Andy Dalton. Dalton has been the Bengals starting quarterback since 2011 and he has compiled a record of 61-43-2. Dalton has a career completion percentage of 62.5%, but his 0-4 record in the playoffs is something that he cannot escape. In 2014, Brown gave Dalton a six-year, $96 million extension. And assuming that the Bengals will have a new head coach in 2018, the new person will have to work with Dalton because Brown is not going to allow him to part with the franchise’s starting quarterback who is still owed $47.2 million over the next three seasons.
The last ten years have seen a mild uprising in Cincinnati as the Bengals became competitive. But when the postseason rolls around, all of a team’s flaws are magnified. The Bengals lack of leadership which begins and ends with Brown always rises to the surface at the most inopportune which is something that you can ask cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones and linebacker Vontaze Burfict all about. Lewis attempted to make the Bengals a winner, but to no avail as he could not overcome the losing culture that the organization has. And regardless of who the next head coach in Cincinnati will be, his chances of bringing that elusive first Super Bowl Championship to Southern Ohio will be slim to none as well.
Sources: Pro-football-reference.com, Spotrac.com