Friday, September 18, 2009

The Bengals Are The New Raiders, Except They Win Much Less (Like The Raiders Now)

The NFL goes through cycles. The single wing offense (wildcat) is making a comeback. Smaller faster players are more common (Darren Sproles) and defenses are reverting to the base 3-4 or 4-3 system, abandoning the flashy but outdated Cover 2.

Which leads to the title of this article, the quagmire that are the Cincinnati Bengals. But do they have hope that they can win like the Raiders of the 1970s? Maybe, but a lot must come together.

The Bungles have had a tough history to say the least. First, most people pronounce their name wrong. The BANgles were a band, the BENgals an NFL franchise. They had to endure two Super Bowl losses to the legendary 49ers teams of the Eighties. The Ickey shuffle, draft busts and countless arrests. Not horrible, but not as illustrious as Bengal faithful would hope.

The Bengals have much in common with the 1970s Raiders. They have a ton of players with legal trouble (I'm surprised they have not worked out Charles Rogers yet) and even take some players back like Chris Henry, who was run out of the league only to be asked back out of a desperate need. The Raiders used to pick up players of the scrap heap and win with them. Jim Plunkett was an early round bust before coming back and winning a Super Bowl over the Eagles. Rich Gannon was a career backup before having an MVP season with the Raiders leading them to a Super Bowl appearance. Cinncy has since added RB Cedric Benson (1st round draft bust, arrested twice on drunk boating and driving charges, unsigned middle of the season) who looks to be their workhorse back this season. With little depth behind him, the Bengal are putting a lot of stock into him. Chris Henry had been arrested multiple times and suspended by the team only to be welcomed back after changing his stripes. The Bengals even got the Hard Knocks this season leading to "child please" becoming a catch phrase and America getting a look into the Osbournes of the NFL. A family that is dysfunctional and sometimes funny but you know they do not have much of a chance to build on past success.

But now we see the Bengals of today with a lot of hope. They have a rocket arm QB in Carson Palmer, who has a world of potential. They have a Wide Receiver that is a loudmouth and wants to tweet during games and oh, by the way, he changed his last name to OchoCinco. I am sure more arrests and suspension will follow if this team does not look more at character than talent. 1st round pick Andre Smith fell from the top pick to 6th overall amidst rumors of his lack of maturity. Marv Lewis might lose his job after this season if the Bengals do not start winning in a tough AFC North. This is a team on the brink of something big, but it could be something awful.

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