The Bengals have a lot of good players on their roster. Teams with a lot of good players win football games. However, teams with a lot of great players win championships. Luckily, the Bengals do have some great players. Here is where the line is drawn between the two:
Good players play well most of the time and have great games sometimes. Great players play great more often than not. Michael Johnson is a good football player. He has done some great things since he was drafted and had a fantastic season in 2012. As of right now, he's the team's best pass rusher from the defensive end position. He's a good football player.
What stops me from saying he's great is the fact he has only had one great season. Of course, that one great season happened to come in his contract year (surprise!). He may make the jump from a good player to a great player over the next couple years if he can produce at the same level as a tagged player and under a long-term contract. If he does more good things than great things, though, he'll play his entire career as a good player.
Things could be much worse.
Geno Atkins is a great player. Through three years, Atkins has steadily improved and is now considered one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. He racked up 12.5 sacks in 2012 and was the highest-ranked defensive tackle in the league, according to Pro Football Focus, and it was not a contract year.
A.J. Green is on Atkins' level and there are several players on the Bengals roster that have the potential to be on that level as well. There is a lot of potential on the Bengals roster, and guys like Carlos Dunlap, Vontaze Burfict, Andy Dalton, Leon Hall, Reggie Nelson and others can help take the Bengals to a championship.
It's even more exciting to see what kind of players the Bengals drafted this year and if one or more of them will be the next Geno or A.J. at their position.