The Cincinnati Bengals won two games in 2019 in their first season under new head coach Zac Taylor. This offseason, the young skipper is looking to change that, writing a letter to season ticket holders laying out his vision for the team in 2020 and beyond.
“It’s a new year and we are focused on building a winning culture that creates excitement for Bengals fans”, it begins. But the Bengals have had four consecutive losing seasons now, and they have by and large been getting progressively worse.
His emphasis in the letter was the fact that the Bengals have the resources to build the team up in the draft, including the first-overall pick, with which they are widely expected to draft LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, coming off one of the great seasons in college football history.
“We’re officially “On the Clock” for the 2020 NFL Draft and have a lot of draft capital that can improve our team”, the letter reads. “It starts with the No. 1 overall pick and we will be looking for a player that can elevate this team and help us win immediately. We will also add key pieces throughout the draft as we pick first in every round”.
The Bengals did have a notable turnaround once before. They finished with the worst record back in 1987, and reached the AFC Championship Game the following year. Of course, it has also been nearly that long since they last won any playoff game.
Cincinnati did qualify for the postseason for five consecutive years between 2011 and 2015, beginning the year that they drafted A.J. Green, the perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver, with the fourth-overall pick, and followed that up with quarterback Andy Dalton in round two.
They lost in the Wildcard Round every year, their best chance of winning coming in 2014 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They held a late lead before an untimely fumble gave Pittsburgh a narrow chance of coming back, despite having battered starters, including quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Dalton’s time in Cincinnati seems to have run its course, and surely they will begin shortly seeking a trading partner to get something in return for the quarterback as he enters the final season of his contract. He holds no dead money charge for the Bengals.
The team has generally turned things around in terms of their drafting over the course of the past decade, which had previously been a major shortcoming, but they have not had luck drafting linemen. First-rounder Cedric Ogbuehi and second-rounder Jake Fisher in the same year were both busts. First-round center Billy Price can’t hold onto a starting job. 2019 first-round tackle Jonah Williams was injured all of his rookie season. And the offensive line just so happens to be their biggest weakness.