The pundits had few expectations for the Bengals this season, but it did seem a little harsh at the time.
The Bengals did not make any big splashes in the offseason, but they didn’t suffer any major loses either. In fact adding veterans Cordy Glenn and Preston Brown and drafting Billy Price and Jessie Bates seemed to indicate the team should do a little better in 2018 compared to 2017.
Despite this, it looks like the talking heads were right.
As the season nears its end, the Bengals will need to win two of their last three games to match their 2017 record of 7-9. If they lose one more game, it will mark their third consecutive losing season since tying a franchise record for 12 wins back in 2015.
On paper, the Bengals should’ve been better this season than they were last season, and when they were 3-1 at the end of September, they looked like it.
But then came injuries, usual primetime and familiar opponent meltdowns, more injuries, and a tremendous lack of coaching and self awareness. The collapse has taken the form of five straight losses and just one win in the past seven weeks, and the collapse has shown to be nearly irreversible.
The Bengals are now last place in the AFC North — and just to be clear: the AFC North that has the Cleveland Browns in it. The Bengals are worse than the Browns, and they didn’t have to lose to them at home by multiple scores for that statement to hold weight.
Yes, the Browns have improved. They finally have their trigger man in quarterback Baker Mayfield and a component coach who will at least not impede his talented players from having success. The Bengals being this bad in comparison, however, is inexcusable.
How does an organization with such a head start on their instate rival allow them to claw back out of the gutter and pass them? The usual factors seem to fit. They got complacent — they refused to spend money to keep their free agents or improve at areas that have needed improvement for years. They tried to keep an outdated process alive long after the rest of the league abandoned it.
This is a team and an organization that lacks pride. It lacks even a single leader to push them enough to at least beat the freakin’ Browns. Despite the calls from fans to tank, the Bengals players need to figure out how to compete in the last few weeks. Getting swept by the Steelers would be bad enough, but getting swept by the Browns would be unforgivable.
This organization needs change and it can start with players learning to fight on the field.