In 1985 I was a young Bengals fan. The 80's so far were not terrible. The Bengals had already been to one Super Bowl a few years prior and then made a return trip to the playoffs a few seasons later. Quarterback Ken Anderson was struggling with the Bengals but there was a young kid behind him in Boomer Esiason who would take over in the third game of the season and set scoring records for the team.
Anderson held capital with many Bengals fans as he played great football to put the Bengals in the position to play in a Super Bowl. But, he was struggling and there was talk of replacing him in the 1985 season before it actually happened.
In honor of Back to the Future day, let's compare the 1985 Bengals squad to the current Bengals team of 2015.
The 2015 edition of the Cincinnati Bengals also features a quarterback who played well enough to keep the team in the playoffs every season, yet was often targeted by fans to be replaced by a young backup. The similarities at the QB position end there. The calls to replace Dalton have been quieted for reasonable Bengals fans at this point in the season.
In 1985, the Bengals also boasted a dynamic running back duo. James Brooks and Larry Kinnebrew combined for 1,643 yards and 16 touchdowns for the season. James Brooks was considered a smaller running back but was shifty and found yards in space. Compare this to what the Bengals have in Giovani Bernard. Kinnebrew was a big back at 6'1'' and close to 250 pounds. These are almost identical numbers to Jeremy Hill's. One very interesting note for the 1985 running game was that Brooks carried the lead in yards for the team, but Kinnebrew held the edge in touchdowns. Currently Giovani Bernard has almost 200 more rushing yards than Hill, but Hill has three more touchdowns than Gio.
The 1985 Bengals did have receiver talent in Eddie Brown, Cris Collinsworth and tight end Rodney Holman, but the receiving crew the Bengals have now is far superior. The 1985 Bengals boasted the greatest Bengals lineman of all time in Anthony Munoz.
Defensive back James Griffin had a career season in 1985 where he was responsible for seven interceptions and one returned for a touchdown. The defensive line in 1985 was also pretty strong. The Bengals had 40 sacks on the season, led by Ross Browner and Eddie Edwards from each end of the defensive line.
These numbers should be squashed by this year's squad as Carlos Dunlap currently has 6.5 sacks and Geno Atkins boasts 4.
The 1985 season ended poorly. With a record of 7-9 the Bengals finished second in the division and missed out on the playoffs. They did however find their quarterback of the future and would push for a second Super Bowl appearance in the near future.
The 2015 Bengals are arguably the NFL's best team to date. The quarterback controversy should be over and the team looks poised for a return trip to the postseason. They already have only one win less than the 1985 team had all season. This time, if and when they make it to the playoffs, they hope to do some damage.