For the past three seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals have been doing the same song and dance. The Bengals have made the playoffs the past three seasons, but have yet to win a playoff game. Cincinnati fell to the Houston Texans two straight years before falling to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
There is plenty of blame to go around for why the Bengals can’t succeed in the postseason. Let’s start with the quarterback of the team, Andy Dalton. Here is a guy that can look tremendous in some moments and absolutely horrendous in others. The man can play, but he can never seem to play well when it matters most.
Dalton has had great regular season success in his three years of service. He has passed for 11,363 yards, each year raising his total from the previous year. He has thrown 80 touchdowns to 49 interceptions. In 2013, Dalton showed that he is the right man to lead the Bengals to greater achievements, until the playoffs happened. He threw for career highs in yards (4,296), touchdowns (33) and interceptions (20). Pretty solid season, but unfortunately for Dalton and the Bengals, you can’t win the Super Bowl in the regular season.
In three career playoff games, Dalton has thrown just one touchdown to six interceptions. He has thrown double the picks than games he has started in the postseason. That isn’t good. In fact, that is unacceptable. So what should the Bengals do with Dalton? Let him go and start over? Possible. Keep him and see if he can right the ship? Doubtful. Maybe it won’t be him that goes, but his head coach, perhaps.
Marvin Lewis has been the Head Coach for the Bengals since 2003. He has helped turn this team from the “Bungals” to the Bengals. In his 11 year tenure, Lewis has led Cincinnati to five playoff appearances and three division titles. The team has finished last in the division just once, back in 2010, the year before Dalton was drafted.
Just like Dalton, Lewis can’t get it done when it counts the most, the playoffs. Regular season Lewis has been a .500 coach, with a record of 90-90-1. That’s not terrible, but what is terrible and absolutely inexcusable is not winning one playoff game in 11 years. Five times the Bengals have made the playoffs under Lewis and five times the Bengals have lost in the Wild Card round. So where do the Bengals go next with Lewis? Will he join the list of the head coaches that have already been relinquished of their duties? Very possible. Will the Bengals stick with him due to his .500 record and three division titles in 11 years? Also, very possible.
Here’s what I think the Bengals should actually do: get rid of them both. I’m not for anyone losing their job, but after so long of the same old thing, you have to look to start over. Both of these guys would be able to find work fairly quickly, whether in the NFL or for another company where they can offer their analytic abilities. The Bengals made great strides this year by winning the AFC North in a year they were “supposed” to win it with Pittsburgh and Baltimore being down compared to year’s past. However, that doesn’t mean a thing once the ball is kicked off in the playoffs. You have to show up and get the job done and Cincinnati hasn’t done that.
The Bengals could get rid of Dalton by either releasing him or trying to test the trade market and see if they can get something for him. If the Bengals don’t bring Dalton back, there are plenty of options. The 2014 NFL draft is filled with quality quarterbacks, who could potentially be franchise players. Also, they could look for a new quarterback in free agency. Arguably the most highly touted free agent quarterback is Josh McCown, who looked brilliant at times in relief of an injured Jay Cutler. If Lewis is not retained by the Bengals, someone else will get a chance. There are a plethora of coaches that are ready to be head coaches either for the first time or getting another chance. The team has a ton of talent and potential on both sides of the football. AJ Green is becoming an elite NFL wide receiver and the organization spent a lot of money on defense last offseason.
Something has to happen. One of three things will and probably should happen. One, Andy Dalton will be gone. Two, Marvin Lewis will be gone. Three, both will be gone. What’s next for the Cincinnati Bengals?
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