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Bengals Have Glimpse of Hope with Stellar Draft

Posted: May 03, 2009

Marvin Lewis is entering his seventh season as the Bengals head coach, and 2009 could very well be his make-or-break season to get the culture of losing changed in Cincinnati. He led them to the Playoffs in 2005 and looked to have the franchise finally headed in the right direction. But after losing the final three games of ’06 to finish 8-8 and out of the postseason, things have reverted back to the days of the “Bungles”. Whether it’s been on-the-field ineffectiveness or the litany of off-the field issues, that all too familiar culture of losing has reemerged in the Bengals locker room.

One thing that can help any team is a fresh infusion of talent, and it was widely accepted by national pundits that the crop of players Cincy hauled in at this year’s Draft was as good as any in the league. For a squad needing to fill many holes, the Bengals management did a great job of getting big time playmakers for great value. Their first three picks (OT Andre Smith, LB Rey Maualuga, and DE Michael Johnson) all have first-round talent, and their next two (TE Chase Coffman and C Jonathan Luigs) could become starters quickly as well. For a franchise known for making more bad decisions than good, it has to provide some hope to the fan base that the Bengals seemed to finally nail down a solid Draft.

In 2009, Cincinnati must re-establish an offensive identity. Carson Palmer only played four games last year so his return to the lineup will obviously be huge. The controversial Chad Ochocinco, who was almost granted his trade request last year, is still in the Queen City while T.J. Houshmandzadeh has taken his 294 catches over the last three seasons to Seattle. The Bengals signed free agent receiver Laveranues Coles in the offseason, and they hope that he and Cedric Benson can becomes effective weapons for Palmer.

Marvin Lewis said late last year that his club would not have another season like 2008, and he needs to make that happen for both himself and the franchise. The Bengals cannot afford another bad start (0-8 in ’08, 2-6 in ’07), or the cloud of negativity that hangs over this team may linger once again. Three of Cincy’s first five games are on the road, plus they have an early visit from Pittsburgh. While that may be difficult, the Bengals must find a way to get through that stretch in order to compete in the loaded AFC. Hopefully, the super-talented rookie class can provide the spark needed to get things turned around for Lewis and Cincinnati football fans.

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