They did it, the finally did it. The Bengals finally moved on from the Marvin Lewis after 16 mediocre seasons that didn't result in one playoff victory.
The team brought in Zac Taylor, who served as the QB’s coach for the Rams last season. The Bengals are hoping Taylor can harness some of what he learned from Sean McVay. The big problem is the team is devoid of talent on both sides of the ball.
At quarterback, Andy Dalton returns for his ninth season as the Bengals signal caller. Dalton is the definition of average. He's not good enough to put the Bengals in contention for the division, but he's not bad enough to warrant moving on from him. While at this point, it would be shocking to see him make the leap to the top tier level of quarterback play, but the potential is in there somewhere.
At running back the team has a talented duo in Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. It’s a group with a lot of speed and talent, but also injury concerns. If one or both go down, it will be a long season for the Bengals. The team still has AJ Green too, who is one of the best wide receivers in the game still. He is coming off a disappointing and injury riddled 2018 campaign, and I expect him to bounce back with a monster year.
John Ross finally started to come on in the second half of last season, but will need to show more consistency to live up to the hype that followed the 9th overall pick in 2016 into the league. At TE the team brought back Tyler Eifert, who has the talent to be one of the best but he just hasn't been able to stay healthy. After a devastating leg injury ended his season early last year, it remains to be seen if he can return and be effective.
Along the line the team brought in guard John Miller from the Bills. He will compete with Alex Redmond for the starting right guard position. Rookie tackle Jonah Williams, taken 11th overall, tore his labrum during OTAs and will miss the entire season, which is a devastating blow to the team.
Defensively, the Bengals are in some trouble. They still have studs Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins along the line, but outside of that the unit is barren. Linebacker is the most pressing concern. It's bad when losing Vontaze Burfict is a devastating blow to a group, and that's the exact situation the Bengals are in at linebacker. Preston Brown has shown flashes throughout his career of being a productive player but will need to shoulder the load this season. The team brought in Germaine Pratt from North Carolina State in the draft, and he will need to contribute immediately.
The safety position is headlined by Shawn Williams and Jessie Bates projected to be starters. Williams has been a starter for the team since 2013 and will likely continue in that role. Bates had three interceptions and 73 tackles last season, his rookie year, and he will try to build on that promising campaign. At corner the team will start some combination of Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson and Darqueze Dennard. While it's not the most talented group, it is still a solid rotation to start the season. How good this defense is in 2019 will be determined by how quickly the young guys are able to contribute.
Grade: C | Expected AFC North finish: 4
The Bengals are going to be bad this year, but they finally took a step in the right direction bringing in a new head coach. They didn't really make any moves that drastically improve the team in the offseason, and they lost their first round pick for the entire season before training camp even started. Poor AJ Green, he deserves better.
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