The Bengals and their age-old penchant for poor performance are as iconic a pair as America and apple pie, much to the chagrin of their devoted fans across the country. Many of the team’s shortcomings have been attributed to a lackluster front office, and owner Mike Brown’s empire of nepotism has done nothing to help dissuade critics from this stance.
To paint a clearer picture: Mike Brown, son of team founder Paul Brown, is the president and general manager. His daughter, Katie Blackburn, began working for the team in 1991 and is now the team’s executive vice president. Her husband? Troy Blackburn, the team’s vice president. Oh, and Brown’s brother, Pete, is the senior vice president of player personnel.
At the very least, the talent level on the field had been able to occasionally shrug off the laughable performance from the front office to find some degree of success. From 2003 to 2015 (Carson Palmer’s first season through Andy Dalton’s first five years), the Bengals enjoyed 10 seasons with a record of .500 or better, including six with double digit wins.
But in more recent seasons, a rash of coaching turnover and a lack of talent on the offensive line has led to a distinct dropoff in performance on the offensive side of the ball. The early prosperity of the Dalton years has fallen by the wayside as Cincinnati has suffered four straight losing seasons and back-to-back years at the bottom of the division. It all culminated in failing their way to this year’s first overall draft selection.
But as the phrase “any given Sunday” may suggest, improbable things happen constantly in this league, and one change can alter the fortunes of an entire franchise. The Bengals used that top selection on LSU quarterback Joe Burrow, who will be expected to start immediately with the departure of Dalton for Dallas. Coming off the greatest passing season in the history of college football, many expect Burrow and an underrated Bengals offense to make a few headlines in rapid fashion.
Given how low the team is coming from, almost any sizable prediction would be bold. All the same, let’s forecast the fortunes of the offense in 2020.