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Cincinnati Bengals: It’s time for change

The Bengals have gotten progressively worse over the past couple of years and currently sit at 2-4 and third in the AFC North. Now is the time to make some major changes.

The Bengals have been a fountain of mediocrity for the past season and a half, following a string of five straight playoff appearances from 2011 to 2015. Marvin Lewis has coached the Bengals since 2003 and the Bengals have made seven playoff appearances during that period of time.

However, the Bengals have failed to win a single playoff game with Lewis at the helm. Marvin Lewis’ results have steadily declined over the past couple of years, as the team finished 6-9-1 last season, and is currently 2-4 this season. 

Between Lewis’ lack of results as head coach and the front office’s failure to retain key players once they hit free agency, the Bengals surely are in for a very bumpy road ahead. There is no better time than now to blow up the Bengals, and that starts with heading in a new direction at head coach, revamping the front office, and bringing in a new infusion of talent to replace the key players who left the team in free agency over the past few years.

Coaching change

The fact that Marvin Lewis has lasted 15 years and counting so far is shocking, especially given his lack of postseason results. Just in the past couple of weeks, the Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals, and New York Yankees all decided to terminate their managers despite lots of success and postseason results.

John Farrell was let go just four years after leading the Red Sox to a World Series victory, Dusty Baker was axed after two consecutive NL East titles, and Joe Girardi will not be returning to the Bronx even though he led the Yankees to the American League Championship Series this season. 

This trend is no stranger to the NFL as well. Mike Smith was fired by the Atlanta Falcons in 2014 after seven seasons as head coach, despite two 13-win seasons and a postseason victory. Rex Ryan was fired by the New York Jets as well, even though he was 4-2 in the postseason and made two consecutive appearances in the AFC Championship game. Additionally, Jim Harbaugh was forced out of San Francisco despite a 5-3 record in postseason play and a Super Bowl appearance.

Why is it that Marvin Lewis is exempt from producing results in the postseason? Sure the Bengals have had their fair share of regular season success, but that does not mean a thing when the team fails to win even a single playoff game. It is flat-out preposterous that Marvin Lewis still has a job after 15 years of absolutely zero postseason success. After a terrible season last year and all signs pointing to another one this year, it is finally time to bring some new leadership into Cincinnati.

Lost talent with no replacement

The Bengals’ struggles over the past couple seasons should be no surprise, given the mass exodus of talent in the past two offseasons. The Bengals have taken massive hits on both sides of the ball, with the biggest losses coming at wide receiver, offensive line, and in the secondary.

Cincinnati’s receiving depth behind A.J. Green has massively declined since the departures of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, following the 2015 season. Sanu left for the Atlanta Falcons and has been very productive for them, finishing 2016 with 59 catches for 653 yards and four touchdowns, and helped lead them to a Super Bowl appearance. Jones had a monster season for the Lions in 2016, recording 55 receptions for 930 yards and four touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Bengals have failed to find adequate replacements for these two wideouts. Brandon LaFell has been solid, while Tyler Boyd has underwhelmed, and 2017 first round pick John Ross has struggled to stay healthy.

Many are quick to blame Andy Dalton, but it is the Bengals’ front office who deserves the blame, as they have failed to keep their top offensive linemen in town, and have failed to find serviceable replacements for them. Offensive tackle Andre Smith left town following the 2015 season, but returned following the 2016 season, after a year with the Minnesota Vikings.

However, the Bengals lost two standout linemen after last season, as Kevin Zeitler signed with the Cleveland Browns and Andrew Whitworth bolted for the Los Angeles Rams. As a result, Dalton has been sacked 19 times through just six games and is on pace to be sacked 51 times this season. No wonder Dalton has genuinely struggled this season, throwing a whopping eight interceptions and just nine touchdowns.

Another huge mistake made by Cincinnati’s front office was allowing star safety Reggie Nelson to take his talents to Oakland following his stellar 2015 campaign. Nelson was very impressive in 2015, finishing with 77 tackles, 14 passes defensed, eight interceptions, and two fumble recoveries.

His excellent play landed him selections to the Pro Bowl and the Second-team All Pro. Last season with the Raiders, Nelson was named to his second consecutive Pro Bowl after recording 65 tackles, 12 passes defensed, five interceptions, and two fumble recoveries. 

Blaming Andy Dalton for the Bengals’ lack of success is extremely misguided. Dalton simply cannot play at his best when he has terrible protection from his offensive line and no support from all the Bengals’ pass catchers not named A.J. Green.

The only people who deserve the blame for the Bengals’ downward turn are Marvin Lewis and the front office. After fifteen long years of Marvin Lewis and zero postseason victories, it is finally time to bring some new leadership and new talent to Cincinnati, as the Bengals are still searching for their first playoff win since 1991.

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Justin Boguslavsky

Columbia University student, NFL and NCAAF writer, die hard Philly sports fan #FlyEaglesFly

Hot takes are my specialty

Cincinnati Bengals: It’s time for change

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