2017 NFL Season Preview- Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals took a step back in 2016 after making the playoffs for five straight seasons.
With free agent departures from last year and a rash of injuries to key players, the team was almost destined to fail. Aside from that, Cincinnati went over five weeks without a fourth quarter touchdown.
Quarterback Andy Dalton had his best season despite all of the adversity. He passed for 4,206 yards and 18 touchdowns with just eight interceptions despite being sacked 41 times. The running game was inconsistent all year. Running back Giovanni Bernard missed the final six games wit a torn ACL and Jeremy Hill lead the team in rushing, but up and down play and injuries plagued him all year. Tight end Tyler Eifert's season was a waste, dealing with an ankle injury from last season and a back injury that limited him to eight games. Wide receiver AJ Green missed the final six games with a hamstring injury. Brandon LaFell was brought in to be the number two and finished with 60 receptions and 800 yards receiving. The offensive line was a mess as Cedric Ogbuehi struggled wherever he lined up.
The defensive line was solid but is getting old. Defensive tackle Domata Peko is a fan favorite but at age 32, his playing days are limited. Linebacker Karlos Dansby lead the team with 114 tackles and Vontaze Burfict was second despite missing the first three games due to suspension. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was solid but Adam Jones' arrest days after the regular season ended has to make the coaching staff question his reliability. This will be Jones seventh arrest and third off field incident since joining Cincinnati.
Journeyman kicker Randy Bullock was signed when Mike Nugent was released for missing six extra points. Kick returner Alex Erickson lead the NFL with 810 kick return yards.
Despite the below .500 record, the team produced five Pro Bowlers in quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver AJ Green, left tackle Andrew Whitworth, defensive end Carlos Dunlap, and defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Whitworth was the team leader in his 11th season in Cincinnati. Dunlap and Atkins were a great pass rush duo with 17 combined sacks.
Injuries hampered this years rookie class. Cornerback William Jackson suffered a torn pectoral muscle in training camp and missed the whole season. Wide receiver Tyler Boyd made the most of his opportunity when AJ Green got injured. Defensive tackle Andrew Billings missed the entire season after suffering a knee injury in training camp.
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 15th
NFL Rank- 13th
NFL Rank- 11th
NFL Rank- 21st
NFL Rank- 13th
NFL Rank- 17th
Going 6-9-1 in his 14th season, head coach Marvin Lewis has to make some serious strides in the playoffs if he expects to keep his job. Lewis is 0-7 in the postseason and owner Mike Brown's patience has to be waning.
On June 21, cornerback Adam Jones received a one game suspension from the NFL after he was arrested for obstructing official business, disorderly conduct, assault, and a felony charge of harassment with a bodily substance on January 3.
Notable Additions- T Andre Smith, LB Kevin Minter
Notable Departures- T Andrew Whitworth, DE Margus Hunt, DT Domata Peko, LB Rey Maualuga, LB Karlos Dansby
Bengals 2016 Highlights
2017 NFL Draft
With the ninth overall pick going into the draft, Cincinnati had to reload their roster. Primarily at running back, offensive line, and kicker.
Jeremy Hill hasn't been able to recapture the production of his rookie season and with Rex Burkhead now in New England, depth is needed.
With Andrew Whitworth signing with the Rams and Kevin Zeitler now in Cleveland, the offensive line needs more bodies.
Mike Nugent was cut midseason and Randy Bullock was solid but the position needs consistency as its cost them several games over the past few seasons.
On draft day, Cincinnati wound up selecting Washington wide receiver John Ross with the ninth pick. Ross was to have the best release of any receiver in the draft and his draft stock rose when he broke Chris Johnson's 4.24 record time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine with 4.22. Ross was mainly criticized for his below average height and lean body.
The Bengals also notably drafted Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in the second round, Kansas State defensive end Jordan Willis in the third, and Michigan defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow in the fourth. Mixon looks the part of a professional athlete with muscle packed frame but fell in the due to his criminal history. He was suspended for the 2014 season for punching a woman and the video of the incident was released this past December. Willis was viewed as the strongest defensive end in the draft, but is often too stiff when rushing. Glasgow has a great reputation for being tough and a leader but is smaller than ideal defensive tackles.
John Ross Highlights
What to Expect
I believe I've said it for the last few years, but this has to be the make or break year for Marvin Lewis.
Andy Dalton is coming off his best season and looks to be taking the right steps to be a top tier quarterback. With as much depth as they have at running back, one of them has to be able to make plays consistently. With AJ Green and Tyler Eifert back healthy, they'll rejoin Tyler Boyd and Brandon LaFell to form a solid receiving corps. The main concern is still the offensive line. The team brought back Andre Smith, but losing Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler is going to hurt this team for awhile.
The defense should remain solid despite losing some talented players. Andrew Billings should be an ideal replacement for Domata Peko. Losing Rey Maualuga and Karlos Dansby hurts, but there is enough depth at linebacker to compensate. Even with Adam Jones being suspended for the first game, William Jackson should push for a starting job next to Dre Kirkpatrick.
This team is loaded, especially on defense, and given the added pressure on Marvin Lewis, the Bengals have to be a favorite for a wildcard spot and a warhorse candidate to take the AFC North crown.
Best record they can hope for: 10-6