Hope springs etermal is a phrase commonly used as the frost gives way to the smell of freshly cut grass, hot dogs, peanuts and every baseball team is 0-0 and every fan has dreams of playing deep into October. This is one year that Bengals fans are tossing the word hope about here and there, but cautiously. Very cautiously. One thing can be said for fans of the Cincinnati Bengals: they are a loyal lot. Given a twenty four hour extension to produce a full Paul Brown Stadium and avoid the first blacked out home game since November of 2003, the fans rose to the occasion and in the end the game will indeed be on local television. The fans hope that loyalty will be rewarded with a successful home opener followed by a season which yields a playoff run.
Every year fans can hang their hats on a thing or two that will allow them to hope for a successful campaign through the treacherous adventure that is an NFL season. Sometimes it’s the schedule, often it’s being healthy, on rare occasions it’s a big free agent pickup and more often than not it’s just plain old hope and loyalty. This year however there are several legitimate reasons for the ever optimistic, loyal to a fault fanatics of the men in orange and black.
One: Carson Palmer is back. He has rebounded nicely from the elbow issues which put him on the shelf for all but four games of the 2008-2009 tour and is said to be one hundred percent after suffering an ankle injury early on in the preseason. There is no doubt that as Palmer goes, so goes the offense. Heaven forbid he goes down, J.T. O’Sullivan has shown that he is a tremendous upgrade from Ryan Fitzpatrick who did the best he could last year, but just doesn’t have the tools to be an every week NFL quarterback.
Two: Mike Zimmer seems to be the real deal. He is perhaps one of the best D-coordinator’s the club has ever employed. He used last year to install his scheme and took a defense off the junk pile and drug them to number twelve in the league last year. This accomplishment is tantamount to a miracle as the defense was almost literally on the field during the entirety of most contests last year. In addition to over exertion, they could have sued for lack of support in terms of points scored by the offense and were often put in the less than advantageous situation of poor starting field position. That ranking is surely to go up this year with the addition of several key defensive cogs such as the return of linebacker Keith Rivers, the drafting of Rey Maualuga and Michael Johnson along with the free agent addition safety Roy Williams while the line gets an upgrade with Tank Johnson. Throw in the re-signing of heat seeking missile safety Chris Crocker who emerged last season as a solid last line of defense who can bring the punishment to opposing ball carriers.
Three: One winning season in eighteen years…we’re due!
Along with hope comes sizing up some areas of concern. The offensive line has been shuffled with the result being nice pass protection but subpar run blocking which stymied a rejuvenated Cedric Benson and a host of quality backs to use along with him. The tight end position was completely destroyed in training camp as every other day a man went down for one reason or another. Number one draft pick Andre Smith has a weight clause in his contract and depending upon who one wants to listen to, he was at the limit or over it when he ended his hold out and promptly broke his foot during a non contact drill after two practices, thus putting his development on hold and most likely moving his chance at being fully productive into next season. Point being, if the protection goes south, it’s 2008 all over again.
Being hopeful and realistic is the life of a Bengals fan. That being said…Who Dey!
On Tap: Bengals vs Broncos Preview
About the Author
Written by Daryl Miller
I'm a lifelong sports fan. From short track auto racing, hockey, baseball, football and everything else...I love it.