Even Barack Obama would describe the Cincinnati Bengals as Change You Can‘t Believe In. Since their breakout AFC North division title in 2005, Cincy has posted records of 8-8 (’06), 7-9 (’07) and 4-11-1 (’08). Marvin Lewis arrived in 2003 and pulled this team out of the gutter, but instead of marching down the street, the Bengals have wound up sitting on the curb. America wouldn’t mind if it weren’t for the amount of talent being wasted here.
Fans saw potential in the Bengals, started to care and, like close family of someone with an addiction problem, they have been repeatedly disappointed. The Bengals, like any addict, have become well-versed in saying all the right things and cajoling people into believing in them. But now people are getting wise. Just for fun, let’s personify the Bengals and a fictitious NFL fan (call him Marty). Here’s how a conversation between the two might go:
Bengal: Marty, buddy, we feel real good about where we’re at right now. Lot of excitement around here. You should beat the crowd to the bandwagon.
Marty: Why? You guys won four games last year.
Bengal: Yeah, but we finished on a three-game win streak.
Marty: Two of those games were against the Browns and Chiefs.
Bengal: Hey, wins are wins. And besides, we weren’t ourselves last season. Our defense was banged up. Our O-line had injuries. And our star quarterback sat with a sore elbow.
Marty: How is Carson Palmer’s elbow, by the way?
Bengals: Oh it’s great––Carson’s elbow is great! He skipped Tommy John surgery, let it heal naturally. Says its 100 percent now.
Marty: That’s good.
Bengal: Yeah, yeah––it is good. You know, I’ll admit, between you and me, we really have no shot without him.
Marty: I don’t think that’s much of a secret, Bengal.
Bengal: I know, but….Hey, did you hear what Carson said a while back? Said this was by far the best offseason the team has had since he’s been here.
Marty: Every player says that.
Bengal: Yeah, but this time it’s true. This has been our best offseason! Our offensive coordinator, Bob Bratkowski, has rewritten virtually the entire playbook. Wants to get back to being a run-first club––you know, like we were with Rudi Johnson. That’s why we re-signed Cedric Benson.
Bengal: Yeah! Benson’s finally playing like a No. 4 overall draft pick, too. And we’ve reshaped our offensive line. Four spots up front will have a new starter in 2009. You won’t see us surrendering 51 sacks again.
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