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2014 NFL Season Preview- Cincinnati Bengals
After a 27-10 wild card playoff loss to San Diego, the Cincinnati Bengals became the first team in almost 20 years to go one and done in the playoffs in three straight seasons. That's a statistic fans want to change.
Quarterback Andy Dalton set single season records for passing yards and passing touchdowns but was heavily scrutinized during the year. Dalton struggled against division foes and playoff teams. He is the fifth quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs in his first three seasons but the first one to go winless in those games. The running back duo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard proved to be great complements to each other. A.J. Green established himself as one of the best wide receivers.
Despite losing stars like cornerback Leon Hall and defensive tackle Geno Atkins to injury, the defense finished in the top five of every major defensive stat. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict became the leader of the defense and led the team in tackles. Despite poor play from Andy Dalton, the defense helped the team beat four Super Bowl winning quarterbacks.
There will be a lot of expectations for the 2013 rookie class in their second season. Tight end Tyler Eifert was used in the way many expected and his rookie year was a waste. Running back Giovani Bernard was the star of the class and amassed over 1,200 yards of total offense. Defensive end Margus Hunt will be expected to step up and be the starter in 2014.
Bengals 2013 Rankings
Opponent Passing yds
Opponent Rushing yds
NFL Rank- 8th
NFL Rank- 18th
NFL Rank- 5th
NFL Rank- 5th
NFL Rank- 10th
NFL Rank- 3rd
2014 marks head coach Marvin Lewis' 12th season with the team. In his prior 11 years he has failed to win a playoff game. If Lewis isn't on the hot seat now, I don't know if or when he'll ever be.
The offseason also saw the team lose both of their coordinators. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden left to become the head coach in Washington and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer left to be the head coach in Minnesota. The team then promoted their running backs coach Hue Jackson to offensive coordinator and promoted assistant Paul Guenther to defensive coordinator.
Notable additions- QB Jason Campbell, DE Sam Montgomery
Notable departures- WR Andrew Hawkins, DE Michael Johnson
A.J. Green Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
Having the 24th pick in the draft, the team needed to address their position concerns. Primarily at cornerback, linebacker, and quarterback.
Leon Hall is coming off an Achilles injury and Terrance Newman and Adam Jones are on the wrong side of 30. The team needs to add young depth at the cornerback position in case of one of the starters go down with injury.
James Harrison was signed during free agency in 2013 and didn't live up to expectations. Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga aren't capable of being great pass rusher so the linebacker corps needs one in order to make an impact in the AFC North.
Josh Johnson and Jason Campbell have proven nothing to be more than journey men at this stage in their careers. The team needs a quality back up to step in if Andy Dalton proves not to be the guy in the long term.
With pick number 24, the team select Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Dennard was seen as the best run support corner in the draft but wasn't the best athlete and didn't play against the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten.
The team also selected LSU running back Jeremy Hill in the second round and Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron in the fifth. Hill was a great downhill runner at LSU but there were many red flags surrounding his off the field issues. McCarron won two National Championships as Alabama's starter and possessed all of the intangibles to be a good NFL quarterback. There are a lot of questions surrounding his arm strength and durability because he rarely had to play a full game in college.
Darqueze Dennard Highlights
What to Expect
The offense will give the same level of production as long as A.J. Green gives the same high numbers and Giovani Bernard is used the way he is. Whether or not Andy Dalton is the long term answer will have to be determined this year.
With Leon Hall and Geno Atkins coming back from injuries, the defense will only get better. When he's healthy, Atkins can be argued to be the best defensive tackle in the league. Even with the departure of Mike Zimmer, the talent is there and the production will still be there. The just have to hope their offense can be as elite as they are
With the increased depth added to the rest of the teams in the AFC North it will be harder for the Bengals to repeat as division champs. But as long as they play the way they have Benn over the past few years, the still have the ability to make the playoffs at least as a wild card team.
Best record they can hope for- 10-6