Pro Football Teams


Cincinnati Bengals:

Not so bad anymore thanks to Marvin

In the NFL, since the 1991 season, no team has been worse than the Cincinnati Bengals. So bad, in fact, that had people asking if the great University of Miami teams would be able to beat the Bengals in a head to head game. The Bengals accumulated a record of 55-137 from 1991-2002 for a grand total winning percentage of .286, which is a good batting average in Major League Baseball, but not anything to be proud about in the National Football League. The team had slowly gone from a team that won the AFC championship in 1988 to a team that was the doormat of the NFL and one of, if not the, worst franchise in all of sports. Following yet another disappointing 2002 season the Bengals went out and got a new coach in Marvin Lewis who didn’t have any prior head coaching experience. Lewis brought a new feel to the franchise that they could succeed in the NFL. He made a couple of off-season moves and installed his trademark defense, causing some pundits to speculate that the Bengals could become contenders. The team got off to a slow start, going just 1-4 before the bye week. After that the team found its rhythm and started growing together as a team and it was displayed in their record of 6-1 right after the bye week including big wins over the previously undefeated Chiefs, divisional foe Ravens, and playoff bound Seahawks. The last four games is where we all found out that the Bengals were still a year away from getting into the playoffs. They lost three of their last found games including two huge games against divisional rivals Baltimore and Cleveland. The season as a whole was considered a success; the players began to believe they could, win, fans started buying Bengals tickets again, and Lewis had done something with a team that hadn’t been done in over a decade and that was give them high expectations going into the next year.

In the off-season the Bengals made some moves that should help improve their young and raw football squad. They went out and made a few trades like sending running back Cory Dillon to New England for the Patriots 2 nd round pick. The Bengals then turned around and made another move to pick up cornerback Deltha O’Neal, the 26 th pick and the Broncos 4 th round pick in return for the 17 th pick in the draft. They also went out and brought in some more defensive backs to help out a defensive unit that struggled against the pass last year. They brought in safeties Kim Herring and Nate Webster from the Rams and Buccaneers.

In the draft the Bengals had stockpiled 11 picks which is enough for coach Lewis to change the face of the franchise through. With the 26 th pick the Bengals grabbed Michigan running back Chris Perry. Perry is a physical running back that will pound at defenses until they just quit. The Bengals also had two 2 nd round picks and got the most out of them by picking up Florida cornerback Keiwan Ratliff and Maryland safety Madieu Williams. Lewis is obviously trying to bring guys in that will fit his defensive scheme that got him the job as Bengals head coach; of the 11 picks seven of them were defensive players.

On the offensive side of the ball the Bengals are a very formidable opponent. They stumbled upon a great running back in Rudi Johnson who inspires cheers of “RUUUDY RUUUUDY,” every time he touches the ball. Their receiving corps is one of the best in the NFL with guys like Chad Johnson, Peter Warrick and Kelley Washington. The big change on the offense will come under center. Former Heisman Trophy winner and 2002’s number one pick in the draft Carson Palmer will replace veteran Jon Kitna. The team may lose a little by having to suffer through Palmer’s growing pains next season, but it will be the right decision for the future of the Bengals by getting Palmer his snaps now. If Palmer does falter the Bengals can always turn to Kitna to fire the offense up like he did during the 2003 campaign.

The defense wasn’t quite what the league expected it would be since they were coached by the defensive guru Marvin Lewis. The unit finished 28 th overall in total yards given up. With all the new defensive players coming in that Lewis got to hand pick himself expect better things from the Bengals.


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