I remember it as if it were yesterday. The Bengals just completed their 2002 season with a 2-14 season. Former head coach Dick LeBeau was replaced by well known defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis, who was being courted by other teams before accepting the job in Cincinnati. The team drafted Carson Palmer to be the eventual franchise quarterback, luck enough to have a bridge in Jon Kitna (something we don't have this year). Aside from Rudi Johnson replacing Corey Dillon and the rookie Eric Steinbach becoming the left guard, the offense was already installed and the personnel was largely implemented.
The difference this year is that several areas on offense could be in for a complete overhaul, ranging from quarterback to wide receiver to even the team's core of running backs and the offensive line. There's a lot to work on. Obviously fans are worried with little confidence that the team can make the right decisions going forward (evident by Mike Brown's stubbornness with Carson Palmer). But is the team worried about rebuilding?
Marvin Lewis isn't. He's actually excited.
"I think attitudinally we're different than '03," Lewis said. "They were putting the toe in the water. They didn't know if it was going to hurt or not. Guys like the Willie (Anderson)s, the Artrell Hawkinses, Kevin (Hardy), some of the guys we brought in helped us get through that and helped us get to where we were and brought other guys with them. I'm excited. It's an exciting time."
The Bengals are without question in "rebuilding" mode this offseason, looking to rebuild from scratch several positions on offense while filling gaps on defense. That means while the team could win games, we're not expecting a winning seasons and definitely not a championship. So in a sense I suppose it is exciting, without having any idea how everything will turn out. But knowing this team and who runs it, it's also what scares us.