With success marked by strong influxes of talent in the draft, a formidable defense, and one of the most dangerous groups of players in the NFL, the Bengals have been to the playoffs the last three seasons.
Their record: 0-3, with the postseason marred by inconsistent quarterback play, poor coaching decisions on offense, and at times, what can only be described as communication meltdowns and lack of motivation. The truth can be painful when it comes time to address it.
In 2014 and going forward, that seems to be what Cincinnati plans to do. After coaching changes on both sides of the ball, and contract talks in motion for a few of their most significant players, Marvin Lewis has found himself in a situation where the expectations in the Queen City have taken on a very outspoken “here and now” attitude. The talent is there. The pieces seem to be in place. So what’s the hold up?
Andy Dalton and Marvin Lewis’ futures do not seem to follow very different paths. Both have been through hard times of inconsistency and although one’s tenure is far shorter than the other in their respective positions, both are tied together by what the teams does from now on. Lewis has already publicly thrown his support behind Dalton, and his belief in his quarterback is there.
But while actions speak louder than words, Cincinnati fans are finally starting to hear some of the words that they’ve been waiting for.
In light of the fact that both are literally playing and coaching for their future in 2014 and the short term thereafter, Lewis had the following to say.
“He and I both, we know what we’re up against. We’ve set a high standard and now the expectations are to win everything. That’s the good thing. Winning is just not good enough any longer. Winning the division is no longer good enough. The opportunity to win enough to get to the playoffs and become world champions is the goal. Otherwise people will feel this has been a failure.”
The Bengals are one of just five teams to make the playoffs in each of the last three seasons. Outside of Cincinnati, there’s the Patriots, Packers, 49ers and the Broncos.
At this point, each of these teams has also had a lot more success on the postseason stage. Perhaps it’s time for the Cincinnati Bengals to create a household name for itself not only in the regular season, but when it really matters.