Though the Bengals have had disappointing finishes to their 2011-2015 seasons, they still had positive takeaways from each of their five one-and-done postseason exits in the last six years, and at least they made it to the postseason. When you’re playing playoff football, there are lessons to learn.
The team’s biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, have moved onto the Divisional round of this year’s playoffs, while many other familiar faces are again playing football deep into January.
While watching the Wild Card round at home last weekend, are there takeaways the team should have grabbed even though they weren’t playing football in the first round of the playoffs for the first time on six years?
On this week’s Orange and Black Insider, Scott Schultze and I discussed our belief that there were lessons to be learned after the first week of the postseason. Whether it was looking at the Green Bay Packers demolishing the Giants, the Texans’ handling of the Raiders, the Seahawks taking care of business against the Lions, or the Steelers dominating the Dolphins, Cincinnati’s staff should be taking notes.
The obvious areas to note are quarterback play and coaching. Andy Dalton has been a solid NFL signal-caller, but there is no denying the constant appearances of top quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in the postseason. The latter two won in the Wild Card round, adding to their Hall of Fame credentials. Brady got to sit at home to watch on a bye and will make his playoff debut for the season this weekend.
On the coaching front, head men like Mike Tomlin and Pete Carroll continued to show the savviness and animated fire that seem to pump up their respective squads. The even-keeled Marvin Lewis rarely shows the same kind of animated sideline behavior, making some wonder if that’s a missing key in his deplorable 0-7 postseason record as a head coach.
Keeping an eye on all things Steelers is something the Bengals should be doing this January. Being that the NFL is a copycat league, Cincinnati’s 2017 goals should not only be based on how Pittsburgh continually operates, but the team should almost singularly hone in on the Steelers as the route to another AFC North crown.
Whatever routes the Bengals take this offseason, rebuilding the roster in a way that gets them through their tough division and past the perennial NFL powerhouses that frequent the playoff bracket is a must. Whether it’s a more focused approach among the coaching ranks, re-creating a stacked roster, or a combination of both, Cincinnati needs a razor-sharp focus and realignment of approach this offseason if they want to return to the postseason in 2017.
What are your takeaways from the first round of the playoffs that the Bengals should employ?
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