Can the Bengals Go From Worst to First?

During the 2019 season, the Cincinnati Bengals were able to claim the title of Worst Team in the League with their 2-14 record. A new coaching staff and injuries paired with general incompetency sealed the Bengals’ fate early on. Here’s a friendly reminder that the Bengals were favored over the 49ers in their week two contest (the Bengals lost 41-17). The bright side of being absolutely dreadful? You get the number one pick in the NFL Draft and that is a great way to get started on a rebuild.

The Bengals, while not having the record to show for it, were not that bad of a team in 2019. They lost eight games by one possession, and while it is very unlikely to win all of a team’s one-possession games, if they went the other way the Bengals would have been 10-6 and in the playoffs. The basis of the roster is not poor, but injuries and an inexperienced coaching staff can kill a season.

Before we even consider the upcoming draft and free agency, let’s talk about the Bengals’ current weapons: A.J. Green, Joe Mixon, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, William Jackson, Jessie Bates, and Brandon Wilson. These players form the nucleus of this Bengals squad. All of them except for Jessie Bates were injured and missed substantial time at one point or another. Just without A.J. Green, the Bengals’ record is 7-21-1.

The Bengals have a ton of raw talent. The main variable is if the coaching staff becomes better after a full year together. With the basis established, the Bengals are able to look to the NFL Draft and free agency to fill the other holes. These holes are primarily at QB, LB, and OL, along with depth at WR and CB.

The QB situation is an easy fix: Joe Burrow. LB will most likely come in the form of one of the better free-agent options. OL will be a combination fix through the mid-late draft and cheaper options in free agency. There has been talk about the Bengals using their 2nd round pick on a WR to take advantage of this year’s great selection. Finally, CB has been talked about as a top priority in free agency along with LB.

Based on rumor, there seems to be a plan. If those rumors come to fruition is a different story. The Bengals have talent, it just comes down to if they can fill in some holes and develop chemistry between coaches and players. It is not unheard of for a team to go from the bottom to the top in one offseason, as the 49ers did it just last year. Although it is unlikely for the Bengals to be able to pull off that feat this upcoming season, stranger things have happened.