As has been the case with most of the Brown family, Bengals owner Mike Brown has long been seen as a bit aloof and truculent with many outside of his inner circle. Though his public appearances are a bit rare, Brown and the current front office have begun to shed the Ivory Tower image that has been built for them over the years.
At the Bengals' Media Luncheon on Tuesday, Brown spoke with the local media as 2015 Training Camp nears. Brown touched on a variety of subjects, including his fondness for a Super Bowl victory and his observing the team's difficult path to the Super Bowl in 2015 due to the opponents scheduled ahead of them.
I like our chances, but we have to prove it.— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) July 28, 2015
Mike Brown feels #Bengals "have a good shot at things" this yr. But admits the schedule worries him. Considers every team in division strong— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) July 28, 2015
Bernard may return kicks; Alford competing for job
Mario Alford has a long way to go before earning a spot on the 53-man roster, especially if Giovani Bernard is returning kicks.
Though many still currently write off the Browns as non-contenders, it isn't the wisest of notions. The Browns have beat the Bengals once every year since 2012 and shot off to a 7-4 start (including a trouncing of Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium), before imploding to a five-game losing streak to end the year in 2014.
Regardless of perceived personnel losses by the Steelers and Ravens, they rarely dip into a non-winning season, which would equate to monumental disappointment in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. As it always seems, the road to the playoffs will be found while navigating through the bruising AFC North.
For further reference and information on the team's schedule, our own Josh Kirkendall tweeted out a helpful chart, breaking down the strengths of schedules:
Bengals strength of schedule is the second-toughest this year, behind Pittsburgh: pic.twitter.com/89Bvwlyjfe— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) July 28, 2015
In case you're wondering, Brown's sense of humor is still intact and was on full-throttle at the luncheon:
Mike on a Super Bowl title: it would make a nice entry on my gravestone— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) July 28, 2015
Brown: "It's unfinished work." Re: a Super Bowl. Wouldn't wear the ring tho -said he might catch it on the rim when he dunks. #Bengals— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) July 28, 2015
Though the Bengals Super Bowl chatter has cooled a bit more this year, expectations are still high--especially inside the walls of One Paul Brown Stadium Way. While Cincinnati often gets overlooked and under-praised in comparison to their brothers in the division, the four straight one-and-done's in the playoffs fuel the cynicism on their potential 2015 championship run.
Still, the Bengals look to be in a better position in 2015 than they were last season, depending on the perspective. If you were to take the stance of ESPN analyst and former front office guru Bill Polian, then you would be echoing the sentiment of it being "their year". We'll see--at least we know that Brown is eagerly anticipating the onset of the season.