Hearing NFL analysts tear apart the Bengals is nothing new for Bengals fans.
It seems like whenever they get tired of piling on the Browns, they take a shot at Cincinnati. Still, when Adam Rank of NFL.com said the Bengals wouldn’t win a playoff game again this season, he did so with a little bit more creativity than normal. He compared bringing back Marvin Lewis to ordering Taco Bell and hoping for a box full of money.
I have to tip my hat for thinking outside the bun on that one Mr. Rank. Now, he is changing his tune a little bit in listing reasons why the Bengals should make the playoffs in 2018. I can appreciate the tune change, but he starts off by completely ruining his Taco Bell metaphor. He even goes as far as to say, “I don’t hate the decision [to bring back Lewis].”
Saying that is his honest opinion. So what was the Taco Bell burn? Just a passing fancy? I can’t say I’m not hurt...
Back to the post, though. Rank seems to have gotten on the Andy Dalton hype train as a reason for the Bengals to get to the playoffs as well.
The Bengals play 14 games in the 1 p.m. window, so that’s great news! I know, I know: That was a cheap shot. But a narrative -- like, say “Andy Dalton crumbles in prime time” -- is at least somewhat rooted in truth, right?
All kidding aside, I like Dalton as a quarterback. He’s developed into a typically-efficient passer who doesn’t turn the ball over a lot. Yes, he had 12 interceptions last year, but that was uncharacteristic, considering he had 15 total over the previous two years. I mean, he’s a good quarterback. And if his dad had been a middling quarterback in the NFL in the 1970s, people would overlook certain shortcomings.
And as an aside, I’m glad the Bengals have decided to go for it, resisting the temptation to spend a high pick on a quarterback and start over. Dalton is just 30 years old. He’s led his team to the playoffs five times. What exactly are you looking for?
As far as reviews of Dalton after last season, that is about as good as it gets from a national analyst. People were far too quick to bury him after the season where he had the worst protection of his career, worst offensive game plan, and pretty much no one to throw the ball to outside of A.J. Green. I’m not here to say Dalton is a great quarterback, but he is good enough to go on a run in the playoffs with the right talent around him.
Rank offers some more reasons for optimism that we have already touched on here including the improvements to the offensive line, Teryl Austin changing it up as the defensive coordinator and even William Jackson securing his place as a shutdown corner. Another reason the Bengals should reach the payoffs includes “delayed” returns on the 2017 draft.
He talks about how John Ross and Joe Mixon didn’t contribute as much as they expected to, and that is a fair assessment, but rookies don’t always come into the league and have huge rookie seasons.
I think guys like Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara really made Mixon look bad because they had insane rookie seasons. That isn’t the norm, though. Some guys just need a season to really understand how the NFL works and wait for their team to figure out their offensive line and scheme issues.
To call it delayed returns on a draft that only took place a year ago is pushing it a little. How much of an instant satisfaction league have we become that if it takes a season for rookies to produce we called it delayed returns?
Rank’s words of confidence are appreciated though. He seems to be playing the fence a bit, but I’m afraid if I don’t give him a pass I’ll be the target of his next fast food based attack.