The Cincinnati Bengals, in the eyes of numerous fans, crushed it this offseason. However, in the eyes of most major networks, they faltered, arguably even growing worse than last season.
The most recent network to grade the Bengals offseason, CBS Sports, gave them a C-, the worst grade among any of the four AFC North teams. The only team to receive above a B- was the Browns, who were graded a flat A.
Here’s an excerpt of what columnist Ryan Wilson said about the Queen City’s beloved team.
After 17 seasons Marvin Lewis stepped down as coach. The team had endured three consecutive losing seasons but Lewis deserves credit for the seven postseason appearance, even if the Bengals didn’t win a single playoff game. Now Zac Taylor, the former Sean McVay assistant, is tasked with getting the Bengals back on track and his first order of business was bolstering an offensive line that wasn’t even replacement level a season ago when the team finished with six wins.
Wilson didn’t bash Cincinnati — I’ll give him that. The reasoning for the grade seemed to be the same reason why the Baltimore Ravens were gifted a C+: They didn’t improve enough to truly contend.
The Bengals did, however, make a few big-time moves.
They drafted Jonah Williams to improve a subpar offensive line. They rid themselves of Vontaze Burfict and his declining play. They completely changed their culture with the hiring of Zac Taylor, who has brought a new energy to this team.
But, they still have Andy Dalton and an injury-prone starting tight end in Tyler Eifert. Combined those two with one of the worst rated backup quarterbacks in football (recently ranked in the seventh and lowest tier by SB Nation), and you have a recipe for disaster if Dalton or superstar receiver A.J. Green miss any amount of time.
Ultimately, this team will be judged by what they do on the field, and at the end of the day, they could surprise a good amount of people.
They have size, speed, youth and experience. Can they stay healthy and will Taylor thrive as a rookie head coach are the only real question marks that’ll remain for the long-term future.