Could the Reds Season be Foreshadowing the Bengals in 2014?

John Grieshop

Drawing a potentially painful parallel between the Reds and the Bengals

Despite the fact that the Reds and Bengals are two different franchises, in two completely different professional leagues, I had this idea hit me.

It sounds like a crazy idea. Actually, it probably is a crazy idea. In saying that, there were two reasons that I stumbled upon this blatantly odd prediction.

First, it's the offseason.

Second, to be completely honest, there are some patterns that I find difficult to ignore.

To start, depth is becoming one of the key points of both Cincinnati teams. With injuries plaguing the Reds, the short-handed bullpen has had trouble closing out games, and they've really haven't had more than one or two truly productive bench players.

Heisey comes to mind, but no one else. In the first two months of the 2014 season, the Reds have lost a lot of close calls. At one point, they led all MLB in one-run losses. It keeps coming down to the inability to close out teams in the late innings, and key starters going in and out of the line-up. Between injuries, the Reds have asked or will continue to ask for the heightened role of players such as Tucker Barnhart, Brayan Pena, Alfredo Simon, Roger Bernadina and others.

For the Bengals, we see much of the same issues that may carry over from 2013 into the 2014 regular season. This time, it is the depth of the defense, rather than the bullpen, that will be tested. The Bengals have relied heavily on becoming a defensive juggernaut in keeping tough opponents down to size on the scoreboard.

However, with the loss of Micheal Johnson and injuries to key players like Geno Atkins and Leon Hall, it will interesting to see if the Bengals can rebound by relying on fill-in players when the time comes. Depth players on the defensive line will likely see starting time, and the cornerback position has the potential to be competitive between Kirkpatrick, Jones, Newman, and Dennard. In short, players that have not seen as much starting time in the past may see their role increase in a crucial way.

Furthermore, what about the coaching situation? The Reds entered the year following their release of former head coach Dusty Baker, and newly hired skipper Bryan Price, the former pitching coach. Price has stepped into the promotion nicely, known as a players' coach. He has filled his role by constructing new line-ups, and has become much more active with the inclusion of replay on the field.

There are times when a team endures a period of adjustment after a major hiring before the chemistry clicks. Sometimes, it's an entire new system that the new coach brings into play for the team. In the case for the Reds, none of their troubles appear to be connected with Price becoming the head coach. Most fans would say he's done a fine job.

On the Bengals side of the ball, the team will be under almost a complete new watch in 2014. Mike Zimmer has been replaced by Paul Guenther and Jay Gruden has been replaced by Hue Jackson. However, like with the Reds, both promotions (and changes to the staff underneath), have come from within the organization.

Guenther is stepping up from his former position as the Bengals LB coach, while Jackson's old job was coordinating the running backs. While these are big changes, there is not necessarily any reason to expect a chemistry problem between the players and coaches in the system change. If anything, the defense will retain the same main scheme, and Dalton will have reduced pressure on him in running the offense.

Another point that was briefly touched upon with the Reds' one-run losses is their inconsistency so far in the 2014 baseball season. The topic of inconsistency has been an issue with the Bengals while Andy Dalton has been their signal-caller, and I don't see any reason for that to stop all at once. It is not to say that it's a problem that can't be fixed, but the solution will take time.

With a tough schedule in 2014, Cincinnati fans may need to expect the roller coaster to continue. Actually, kind of like the Reds season has gone thus far. The team has experienced outbursts of offense and solid pitching at times, but luck and production on both sides never seems to come hand-in-hand. That's a problem that Cincinnati fans have come to know all too well, with both football and baseball, no matter the season.

For now, let's hope the the Reds can heat up in the middle of the season, and that the Bengals do not experience such a slow start.

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