Rookie minicamp is over for the Bengals, and the truly dead period of the NFL offseason has been thrusted into our lives. With that comes more power rankings that reflect the apparent consensus regarding the state of the Bengals.
Peter King of Football Morning in America capped off his latest power rankings with three franchises he deems are in serious rebuilding stages. The first of those three teams are none other than the Bengals.
30. +CINCINNATI BENGALS (6-10)
No one in Cincinnati wants to hear this, but this is the same kind of season as Arizona and Miami are approaching: new coach, fact-finding mission, a major rebuilding job. But it seems so much more significant after Marvin Lewis had the head-coaching gig for 16 years, and first-year, first-time head coach Zac Taylor emigrates from the wildly successful Rams offense to the humdrum Cincinnati attack. And not only does Taylor have to figure out—this year, preferably—if he’s going to stick with Andy Dalton after this ninth Bengal season, he’s got to do it while reconfiguring his offensive line and making sure rookie defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has the resources to be competitive during a total defensive overhaul. Bengals were a bad defense last year and allowed 28.4 points per game. Good for the Bengals in finally tearing the insular staff apart and looking outward to fix a foundering franchise.
In the month of May, we have little to no idea how good or bad teams will be in four months’ time. Weeks’ worth of untimely injuries, player development or regression and the cohesion of fresh talent meshing with established veterans has yet to occur. Projection is the name of the game right now, and projection is only based off the facts at hand.
Essentially, any team identified as bad at this point of the calendar can very easily prove that to be false. Are the Bengals (and therefore the Cardinals and Dolphins) bad teams? We don’t know. What we do know is that they are unproven in similar periods of massive turnover. Compared to the rest of the NFL, that’s not very flattering at the moment.
Those objective similarities fittingly group the Bengals right in with the supposed worst teams in the league. Not because Cincinnati got noticeably worse this spring, because they didn’t, but a sense of stability has been lost with the Bengals. That stability kept them within striking distance of the consistently elite teams for the last several years, but also held them back simultaneously.
Now, they’re back to square one. Everything we think we know about them is gone with Marvin Lewis. That’s terrifying and exciting at the same time. Before media such as King can crown them, they have to prove they’ve taken the proper steps past removing the problem.
The Bengals hold real estate at the bottom of most power rankings right now, and that’s the price they pay for becoming unpredictable for the first time in a long time.