The current rendition of the Cincinnati Bengals is unlike any we have seen before in the franchise’s 46-year history. For one thing, the Bengals are coming off three straight playoff appearances, which they have never achieved before, even in the glory days of the 1980s. For another, head coach Marvin Lewis has enjoyed, thus far, an 11-year reign that puts him first on the Bengals all-time list and gives him the second-longest tenure among NFL head coaches, behind only Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. Add to that the fact that the Bengals have a blend of exciting young players and a solid core that have them poised to contend for several years, and these should be pretty happy days on the Riverfront.
Nevertheless, there is always grumbling to do, and most of it surrounding the Bengals has to do with the fact that, not only have they made the playoffs three years in a row, but that they’ve exited in the first round three years in a row. The complaints usually come down to “Andy Dalton can’t win a big game,” but of course no quarterback can singlehandedly win or lose a contest. It takes a team effort.
With the Bengals set to open their training camp at Paul Brown Stadium on July 23, now is the time to start looking ahead to the position battles that will help shape this year’s team and, hopefully, ultimately lead to a happy January in 2015. While much of the Bengals depth-chart is set, there is still plenty of maneuvering to be done between now and the season-opener at Baltimore on September 7.
Let’s see what’s brewing, beginning at running back.