They Bengals just finished off their 2017 season, which wasn’t great, but it is always nice to remind ourselves that it could be worse.
I’m not just talking about the Browns either. I’m talking about the years before Marvin Lewis. This by no means a Lewis support post, but it is a nice reminder that things are capable of getting worse.
ESPN put together a list of the worst team ever for each of the 32 teams in the NFL, and it just so happens they chose the team that led to the Bengals hiring Lewis in the first place.
Worst season: 2002 | Record: 2-14
The 2002 Bengals extended a streak of 12 non-winning seasons, resulting in Dick LeBeau's firing and ultimately the hiring of Marvin Lewis. The Bengals had the worst defense in the league, allowing 28.5 points a game. They couldn't figure out their quarterback situation and went through three starters during the season. Ultimately, their futility earned them the No. 1 pick in the draft the next year, when they selected Carson Palmer and kicked off a new era for the franchise. -- Katherine Terrell
Now before we get into just how bad this team was, let's look at the positives. Corey Dillon was 10th in the NFL with 1,311 rushing yards. Chad Johnson was also fourth in the NFL with 16.9 yards per reception in his second season with the Bengals.
John Kitna also threw 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, which trust me is pretty much as good as it gets for this team. The highlight of that season was beating the Saints in Week 16 who went on to finish the season (9-7). The only other team they beat were the Texans in their inaugural season.
The Bengals scored single-digit points seven times that season on there way to winning only two games. The Bengals only scored 30 touchdowns on the season. They also allowed 28.5 points per game.
The Bengals were outscored 279 to 456 on the season. The defense almost let opposing teams score 200 more points than them. This was despite having Takeo Spikes and Justin Smith both on the roster.
The Bengals offense rushed for a little over 1,700 yards, but they allowed their opponents to rush for over 2,000 yards against them. It is shocking to think Dick LeBeau went on to coach such a sophisticated defense with Pittsburgh after what he put on the field in Cincinnati.
That is really the story of this 2002 team. They didn’t have a great quarterback, and their defense didn’t give them a shot in most of their games.
The real bright spot of this season is the change that it led to. Marvin Lewis came in and cleaned this place up. The Bengals were also awarded the first overall pick that led to Carson Palmer.
The thing about the 2002 season is that it was necessary to have that terrible season in order to get the things that eventually led to one of the more successful eras of Bengals football we’ve ever seen.