The Bengals are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in the Marvin Lewis era.
Since Lewis became the head coach in 2003, Cincinnati has failed to have a winning record in just seven of his 14 years, and they’ve only suffered one losing season since 2009.
Cincinnati has also managed to have at least a .500 record in all but three seasons since 2003. They’ve also had back-to-back losing seasons just once, in 2007-08, and that was in large part due to Carson Palmer missing most of ‘08 with a shoulder injury.
Despite their playoff shortcomings, that’s a pretty impressive mark for the Bengals. It’s also a good sign that, should they continue their downward slide this season, they’ll bounce back fairly quickly.
Another franchise that’s been good at bouncing back from disappointing seasons and avoiding consecutive losing seasons are the Dallas Cowboys. Since 2003, Dallas has endured just three losing seasons, none of which coming back to back.
Dallas is also sitting at 9-1 currently with the NFL’s best record after 11 weeks. This, after they floundered to a 4-12 record last year thanks to an inconsistent defense, and an injury to their most important offensive player, Tony Romo, as well as their star receiver in Dez Bryant.
Dallas was able to get healthy this offseason, shore up their defense, and find a franchise running back in Ezekiel Elliott.
Could the Bengals follow a similar offseason game plan with their season likely ending with a similar record? FOX Sports’ Mike Lombardi thinks so, at least in the sense that Cincinnati, like Dallas last year, was a good team who just happened to end up with a bad record, which led to a really nice draft pick.
“Cincinnati is going to be the Cowboys of last year,” Lombardi said. “They’re going to be a good team with a lot of good players that are going to get a high pick.”
"I think the Patriots played their best game yesterday... they played their best defense." — @mlombardifoxtv pic.twitter.com/T07Zu2zBNx— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) November 21, 2016
Like Dallas, Cincinnati has a lot of talent that could be primed for a major comeback following a setback season. Just
getting a new head coach getting healthy and adding a few key free agents, as well as a high draft pick, could be enough to get the Bengals back to a winning record and playoff contention next year.
It also happens that, like Dallas, Cincinnati will be in position to land a franchise running back in next year’s draft. Assuming the Bengals end up with 4-6 wins, they should be drafting in the top 8-12 of the 2017 draft. That would put them in position to land Florida State’s Dalvin Cook or LSU’s Leonard Fournette, two elite running back prospects who would immediately upgrade the Bengals’ rushing attack. Though, they could go many directions with a top 10 pick.
It’s easy to see how the Bengals could get right back to their winning ways next year if everything falls into place during the coming offseason, just as it did for the Cowboys this past offseason.