When Carson Palmer retired and the Bengals shipped Chad Ochocinco to New England and decided not to re-sign Terrell Owens or Dhani Jones in favor of A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson at wide receiver and Rey Maualuga at middle linebacker, they transformed into one of the youngest teams in the NFL. In fact, with a rookie quarterback, all receivers with less than five years of experience, a rookie offensive lineman and a fairly young defense, the Bengals had the youngest Opening Day roster in the AFC.
According to the NFL, the Bengals had the youngest Opening Day roster in the AFC with an average age of 25.74 years, third youngest in the league. They also have the fewest players 30 years old and oder. Cornerback Nate Clements, 32, and safety Chris Crocker, 31, are it.
This is both a good and bad thing, for obvious reasons.
The Bad. Youth directly relates to inexperience and experience can win football games. The Bengals are very inexperienced, especially on offense and the majority of analyst list that as one of the reasons that they don't expect the team to win many games this season.
The Good. Inexperienced players eventually become experienced and having youth and experience is a great thing. With a sport as tough as football, age can really slow players down. Even if a player is a step or two slower than the player they're supposed to block, cover or beat, those two steps can be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful play.
The Bengals' youth may not provide them many wins in 2011, but being a young team could be their edge in the next few years. The Steelers and the Ravens are getting older and slower. Hopefully in the next couple years, the Bengals and maybe even the Browns, the division's two younger teams, will take the lead in the AFC North when Pittsburgh's and Baltimore's age begins to slow them down, if it hasn't slowed them down a little already.