There has been a lot of chatter about how terrible the Bengals are and will be throughout the 2011 season. Most of that chatter has been from Bengals fans. Some fans are more pessimistic than others and they can't really be blamed for being that way, especially after sitting through the lost decade. The way the team's offseason and first two preseason games went, many Bengals fans were reminded of how things were in the '90s.
Hopefully last night brought some of those fans back to 2011.
Even if it didn't convince you that the Bengals can be somewhat successful this season, though, ESPN's James Walker warns that we shouldn't assume that our team will be in the hunt for Andrew Luck in the 2012 NFL Draft just yet. A Bengals fan emailed him and asked, "if the Bengals are as bad as advertised -- and as they look so far -- would they have to take [Stanford quarterback] Andrew Luck with the first pick, or are they going to give Andy Dalton the benefit of the doubt"
Walker replied by saying:
Chris, I understand the downtrodden mentality of Bengals fans. I've seen it for years in the AFC North blog. But I think Luck's name is starting to come up too much, too soon with Bengals fans. Dalton needs time to show what he can do. Two preseason games is not enough. He may not look good in August, but Dalton will probably be better in November and December. The Luck sweepstakes will go to the team with the No. 1 overall pick. The Bengals will likely struggle this season. But there is no guarantee they will finish as the worst team in the NFL. My advice for Bengals fans is to watch the young players develop this year, including Dalton, and don't worry about Luck. There is plenty of time to cross that bridge, if necessary, in 2012.
If the Bengals do finish the 2011 season with a bad enough record to earn the No. 1 overall pick in 2012, there's no question that they'll take Luck. However, there's no guarantee that they will be that bad. In last night's preseason win against the Panthers, the Bengals looked good, offensively and defensively, for the first time in the preseason. Hopefully they build off of their 24-13 win and continue to improve. If they do, they won't be anywhere close to selecting Luck in the 2012 draft.
For now, though, let's not talk about Luck until we know for sure.