The Bengals have probably securely landed themselves on the naughty list, and I don’t even need to check the list twice.
Cincinnati started the year off 4-1, but then they got comfortable, and now they sit at 6-9, which is not nice. Even though the Bengals have been terribly bad to their fans down the stretch, everyone should be allowed to get presents.
Here are some that may actually help them out next season.
1. A brand new (not re-gifted) head coach
The Bengals are like that parent who hasn’t gotten hip with technology since DVD players came out as the hot new tech, but then they finally get a new iPhone on Christmas. Then they spend the rest of the day setting it up while dumbfounded by what they have.
That is what Cincinnati needs to do at the head coaching position. Marvin Lewis was a great hire at the time, and he has given us some really memorable years (even if they weren’t always for the best reasons).
However, this isn’t the time to get stingy by picking up an old smartphone. Sure it is different, but you’ll still end up seeing them watch everyone else doing all the things they can’t do with their old phone.
Hue Jackson and Vance Joseph aren’t change. They also have both proved to not be great hires on a few occasions. The Bengals need to be ripped away from their old flip phone and introduced to the 21st century. They’ll be better for it in the end.
It has been a position of need for too long now, and part of that probably has to do with the team’s philosophy of how to attack the position. Too often, we see the team opting for non-athletic, sure-tackling linebackers instead of the more modern model of fast guys who can fly around the field, as well as cover.
Injuries helped decimate the position this year, but even if no injuries occurred, the Bengals still would’ve struggled to compete at the position. Preston Brown had some nice games, but he is just too much of a throwback player, and he can’t be on the field for all three downs.
Vontaze Burfict looked like he needed to save a few more cookies for Santa this year, as he looked sluggish when he was actually able to play. Nick Vigil was easily the best at the position, but even he showed signs of not being able to keep up with backs like Nick Chubb bouncing it outside.
Cincinnati is going to have a hard time actually deciding which position to address with their high first-round pick, but linebacker has to be in serious consideration. They are probably in a position that they should be asking for a few new ones.
Even if they got one blue-chip guy at linebacker, they are still going to be pretty behind the eight-ball at the position unless they finally let Malik Jefferson play and he proves to be a capable defender.
3. An offense designed around doing what its players do best
This one is mostly designed around this offense finally unleashing its young talent that could be so much better than it currently is. The main guys most people will think of is John Ross, which is absolutely true.
Ross has showed he is a problem for opposing defenses in the red zone, but you have to wonder why he isn’t that same threat when he actually has the entire field to work with. The offense needs to get creative with how they get the ball to Ross.
How many times have we seen quick screens at him when the defender is 10 yards off? Almost never, which is a crime. Even just a quick screen in that situation would be hard for defenders to stop. I mean, just look at any other fast receiver and the routes they run to take advantage of how defenders try and take away the deep threat.
Joe Mixon is another young guy who the Bengals need to figure out how to use. It is almost criminal how often they bunch up the offensive formation with two tight ends and a receiver in tight and try to run with an offensive line that is struggling to gel together.
The defense might as well triple dog dare Cincinnati to pass the ball every play with the way they attack the offense. Also, there are more ways to get the running back involved in the passing game asides from swing passes.
4. An actual indoor practice field
In case you were unaware, the Bengals only have a outdoor practice field. That puts them in the minority of NFL teams, and it is especially bad when you consider just how bad the weather can get in Ohio during the season. It appears this one will have to be from Santa, as Mike Brown is obviously too cheap to front the bill.
5. Some fresh pieces of coal
This is something the Bengals actually deserve. Marvin Lewis and his staff have pretty frequently said players just need to play better this season. They keep saying they know what they are doing, but the record after their 4-1 start doesn’t reflect that.
There have been excuses that have flown out regarding injuries the team has had to deal with, but even when healthy, they weren’t even close to competing with teams like the Chiefs or Saints, which pretty much shows off where they are as far as the pecking order in the NFL.
There is plenty of coal to spread around to Lewis’ staff, who all should be feeling their seats getting pretty hot after the team has landed at the bottom of the AFC North. Mike Brown also deserves to have a bag reserved for when he ultimately gives Lewis another season.