1. Giovani Bernard
With over 1200 total yards and 8 total TDs in his rookie season, Giovani Bernard leapt into our hearts.
Expect him to have an even better year with him getting the majority of the carries.
2. Bengals Play a Weak AFC South
Aside from the Colts, will any of these teams be formidable against the Bengals this upcoming season?
Texans got a new coach and still have a solid defense, but they lack a QB and this time the Bengals won’t be playing them in the playoffs.
Jags and Titans…meh
3. Paul Guenther and Hue Jackson
Hue Jackson takes over for Jay Gruden as the Bengals’ Offensive Coordinator and Paul Guenther takes over for Mike Zimmer as the Defensive Coordinator.
Many analysts and misinformed fans believe that since the Bengals lost both coordinators (miss you Zim!) that they will struggle to have the same numbers, offensively and defensively.
What those analysts and fans don’t realize is that, Hue isn’t going to veer from the type of offense the Bengals run, but rather adjust the playcalling and focus more on the running game. Jay Gruden frequently would call plays that would make everyone confused as to why he called them.
Guenther is a Zimmer acolyte so expect the same defensive intensity and tenacity.
4. AJ Green + Marvin Jones
AJ Green warrants his own spot, but I figured I would put him and Marvin Jones together considering they were a fantastic duo last year. Mohammed Sanu will likely be a bigger factor this year as well.
Many Bengals fans have called for Marvin Lewis’s head over the past decade plus, but since Mike Brown has relinquished control over to Marvin Lewis the Bengals have been consistent in almost all phases of the game. The continuity of Marvin Lewis being at the Bengals’ helm means less changes in overall strategy which also means that returning players do not have to learn an entirely new system and ‘way to play’ as they would if Lewis had been fired sometime during the past decade plus.
Marvin does some peculiar things as a coach, but I am happy to have him as the consistent figure at the head of the Bengals.
6. Another Great Draft Class
My only worry is Jeremy Hill’s off the field problems; still wish Carlos Hyde would have been picked over him, though.
7. Andy Dalton
He hasn’t signed a new deal to extend him past this upcoming season, so the heat will be on Dalton to excel and win a playoff games!
He’s done better every single year he’s been in the league (just under Marino’s and Manning’s first three years) and yet he gets consistently crapped on by analysts and fans alike. He does make some boneheaded players every so often, but I attribute a majority of those mistakes to Gruden’s playcalling and Dalton never having a true veteran QB presence in his NFL career.
Plus, who else would the Bengals have come in and play QB? The free agent QBs are rarely worth signing, and it would be highly unlikely that a FA QB would come in and succeed as Dalton has the past few seasons.
He will never be “Great” but Andy Dalton will always be good and many teams would kill to have a QB like him.
8. Veteran Leadership
Domata Peko, Leon Hall, Reggie Nelson, Terrance Newman, Adam Jones and so forth on the defense!
Then the Bengals have Whitworth, BJGE and now Jason Campbell on the offense. I believe Campbell being there to help Dalton during practice and games will be tremendous.
10. The Fans
Nobody loves their team like Bengals fans do. We aren’t delusional like Browns fans, we aren’t obsessed with the past like Steelers fans, and we don’t smell like Ravens fans do.
Now lets make sure that we sell out every home game and make PBS loud!
11. Did the other AFC North teams even get better?
Sure the Browns got better, but will all those fancy free agent purchases and mini Manziel be enough to take over the AFC North? I’m not too sure yet, and they likely will not have Josh Gordon for the season. They’re also the Browns.
Steelers get another year older and their cap situation gets worse and worse. They lost another good WR in Emmanuel Sanders (though added Lance Moore), and drafted OLB Ryan Shazier and DE Stephon Tuitt, but will those replacements be able to get enough scores to keep the Steelers in games? The Steelers defense is always formidable (and dirty) under Dick LeBeau, so anything can happen with Pittsburgh.
For the Ravens: Joe Flacco got overpaid and they will suffer for it over the next few years.
12. No Drama (So Far)
In previous years, the Bengals were flush with drama from arrests and internal bickering, but the Bengals have transformed into a quiet, tight-knit group of guys that understands the importance of their jobs.
We all loved the trash talking of Chad Johnson when he was putting up huge numbers, but I’d rather have the humble greatness of AJ Green and company.