Let’s face it – the AFC North was a hot mess last year! With Le’Veon Bell sitting out, the once-dominant Pittsburgh Steelers had to root for the Cleveland Browns in Week 17 in order to make the playoffs.
The Baltimore Ravens benched quarterback Joe Flacco and began the new era of Lamar Jackson football. Can Jackson keep being the leading rusher for this team and avoid injury?
The Cincinnati Bengals landed at the bottom of a division where the Browns had held that spot for too many years to count. But the once 0-16 Browns, under the leadership of rookie QB Baker Mayfield, are making their case to take over the division.
Let’s take a team-by-team look at the moves they’ve made so far to get ready for the battle to be “Kings of the North.”
With the success that the NFL’s youngest head coach, LA Rams HC Sean McVey, it was no surprise NFL owners wanted to try to find the same needle in a haystack. This offseason brought a fury of hirings of young head coaches. Smartly, those coaches are looking to veteran coordinators to fill out their coaching staff.
While teams like Tampa Bay decided to go with a veteran head coach in Bruce Arians, most other coach-needy teams decided to go young. Arizona, Green Bay, Miami, and Cincinnati have all hired coaches between the ages of 35 – 39.
Not that age has anything to do with coaching, but it does have to do with experience. Bringing in veteran coordinators and specialist not only is savvy, but it allows the HCs to be educated by some of the best.
To look at the NFL today it’s hard to imagine it without the diversity it displays, but there was a time when there wasn’t. In honor of Black History Month, we will look at the changes the NFL has gone through as it pertains to African American players.
African Americans have been a part of the American Football evolution as far back as the 1920s with players like Fitz Pollard and Bobby Marshall leading the way. The position of quarterback had not been a position that was openly offered to African Americans, but in 1968 that all changed with Marlin Briscoe.
It has been a long time coming, but the Cincinnati Bengals have finally parted ways with head Coach Marvin Lewis.
After 16 seasons, Lewis’ tenure is over in “Who Dey” nation. For the past several years there was speculation as to why the Bengals held on to Lewis for so long, but it was simply their trust and respect in how he managed to turn around this team, a team that sat below .500 for several years prior to 2003.
Lewis took over the head coaching job in 2003, when he replaced Dick LeBeau who tanked the Bengals for the worst win percentage in franchise history. Lewis improved the Bengals to winning seasons with a band of young players such as quarterback Carson Palmer and receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh.
He was voted AP Coach of the Year in 2009. His regular season record, 131-122-3, holding just above .500. But it was his postseason record, a sad 0-7, that was always black mark on his coaching record.
Cincinnati Bengals are off to a cool start with a 4-1 record heading into our sixth week. Although the path to victory has not been a smooth one the Bengals have managed to only fall behind the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs, which puts them in second place in the AFC.
Examples of that “rocky path” are their defeat over the Atlanta Falcons by one point, and then having to overcome a 17-point deficit this past Sunday to beat the Miami Dolphins at home. Luckily, due to a couple of wild touchdowns from defensive ends Sam Hubbard and Michael Johnson, they were able to beat a team that was favored to win by six points in another come-from-behind victory.
This style of winning has caused some to be cautiously optimistic and not ready to declare this “the year”. In fact, most believe the Bengals should’ve dominated a team like the Dolphins, but let’s face it even good teams have off weeks. The difference between a legitimate contender and an average team is finding a way to win, even when they aren’t playing their best game. That is what Cincinnati did this week.
As the Miami Dolphins rolled into Cincinnati, hopes were high that they would bounce back after that horrible showing in New England.
The first couple series showed the Dolphins offense poised and ready to take control. Building a 17 point lead by half-time had Dolphins fans rejoicing. Then, as most fans will tell you, came the most frustrating thing about football…a momentum swing.
Going into the third quarter the Dolphins offense seemed to completely fall apart. Protection disappeared. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill made some very questionable decisions while under heavy pressure. Turnovers, penalties, and mostly momentum had clearly swung the Bengals way.
Cincinnati Bengals have started the season off on a positive note, with two games behind them and a win for each. That being said, their next move was a little puzzling as the Bengals release safety George Iloka and now list rookie Jessie Bates as the starter at free safety.
George Iloka was a fifth-round selection by the Bengals in the 2012 NFL Draft. Iloka had become a very important piece to the franchise and a leader on the Bengals defense since starting in 2013. Iloka’s performance included 227 tackles, 32 blocked passes, 9 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles since joining the Bengals. I am sure this will have big ramifications for the team moving forward.
The offensive line will remain a huge question for the Bengals as they get ready to meet up against the Buffalo Bills in their 3rd preseason game. During the Week 2 game against the Dallas Cowboys, the offensive unit seem to struggle throughout the game. Frank Pollack, the new offensive line coach, will have a lot to consider before this next game.
Handle your business and win. Get some help from a couple of teams, and the Lions could get into the playoffs. Easy enough. In their last 4 games, the Lions faced the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Chicago Bears, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Green Bay Packers. They were favored in all of them. They beat both the Buccaneers and the Bears. Today they had to go on the road and face the 5-11 Bengals who were thoroughly beaten by the Vikings and the Bears.
This game should be no problem. Despite a slow start from both teams, tight end Eric Ebron scored on a pass from quarterback Matthew Stafford. Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay was getting calls, breaking up passes. But the game took a slow turn. The Bengals scored a touchdown in the 3rd quarter to make the score 13-10. Lions fans just started to get “That Feeling”. That some way, somehow, this team was going to lose to the Bengals. Continue reading “Week 16: Detroit Lions Pride Report”→
The worlds hottest and longest Hot Seat will finally cool off.
It was announced this morning that Marvin Lewis will be stepping down as the Bengals Head Coach at the end of the season, on his own accord. Coach Lewis has been with the Bengals since 2003. The second longest coaching tenure of current NFL coaches. Only the Patriots Bill Belichick has been with his current team longer. Before then, he was defensive coordinator with the Redskins.