Boos can be heard for miles when the Cincinnati Bengals take the field in Paul Brown Stadium. Team President Mike Brown continues to hear nasty chants directed at him that ring throughout the $455 million facility. Disappointment has lurked in “The Jungle” for nearly two decades and the 2008 season followed the same formula. The off-season offers little hope to Bengal fans that are bold enough to stick around for 2009.
Cincinnati has more holes to fill then Interstate 75. Here is a breakdown of how both sides of the ball might look next season.
Quarterback Carson Palmer missed the majority of last season due to a sore throwing elbow. His return will bring much-needed life to an anemic offense.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh looks to receive a lot of attention from other clubs as he hits free agency for the first time in his career. He is not expected to re-sign with Cincinnati and Chad Ocho-Cinco’s return is in question.
The Bengals have no ground game to complement Palmer, an offensive line that can’t block or stay healthy and the possibility of losing their top two receivers.
If there is a glimmer of hope for Cincinnati, then it shines with their defense. New defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer seems to have brought toughness to a once fragile unit. The Bengals have a young, promising secondary with cornerback Johnathan Joseph and safety Chinedum Ndukwe.
Linebacker Keith Rivers was the ninth overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Though his rookie season was cut short due to a broken jaw, Rivers proved that he is a player worth building around.
If the Bengals are serious about upgrading their defense immediately, Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth hits free agency and should be at the top of Mike Brown’s list.
Marvin Lewis has to go. Remember when Lewis was tagged as a “defensive genius” after coordinating that amazing Baltimore Ravens defense during their 2000 Super Bowl season? Lewis should have been let go two years ago but Brown is too cheap to buy-out his contract.
Again, Cincinnati has dug itself a deep, dark hole. Grab the shovels and a warm beverage because it could be a while.