Will The Bengals Be Prepared For The Playoffs?
As the 2016 season nears, the Cincinnati Bengals have a few questions to answer. Last year’s implosion, during the AFC Wild Card game, caused Bengals faithful to question their team. Yet, the regular season was filled with the dominance that Cincinnati fans have come to expect. If the mythical playoff win is to be had in the Queen City, Marvin Lewis will have to get them prepared.
Lewis and the Bengals have been in seven postseason skirmishes. Unfortunately, the Bengals have nothing to show for their efforts. The goose eggs in the win columns have helped define the Bengals as loveable losers. The 16 games leading to playoff contention are always great games. The fire and competitive juices are equal to any elite team the NFL has to offer. But, it’s the week after that has many people baffled.
Lewis has recently discussed the Bengals preparation for the season and beyond. He referred to the January 9 aberration as something his Bengals team has to absorb. The bad taste of the game has turned many fans sour towards the Orange and Black. Twenty-five years is a long time to cheer in vain.
“We’ve moved on from that,” Lewis explained, via Cincy Jungle.
“Our preparation now is for this 2016 football season. Those adverse moments that you get into in a football game, in a football season, you learn from each and every one of those.”
Bengals fans have heard the words before. For five straight years, the Bengals have been a playoff staple and failed to move beyond the first round. Each time the losses occur, Cincinnati seems to be lost. The same team that played dominant football–during their jaunt through the season–looks dazed and confused. It’s become a tradition, for fans to hear speeches about being ready and then get a huge letdown.
“You don’t make excuses about them,” Lewis said of the losses. “But, you learn from them and you move forward from them, and they become a part of your identity, part of your history, and you don’t want to tread that water anymore. You know how to do better and handle yourself in different situations. There’s gonna be situations arise all the time.”
The Bengals players seem to understand what’s at stake. The focus must be on the present year. Leaving the Pittsburgh loss in the past has been the focus since the team came together earlier in the year.
Jeremy Hill has made peace with his “fumble” and is using that as motivation.
“There is no running from it,” Hill acknowledged, per the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I embrace it. I embrace the challenge. I embrace the doubters, the negative, all that stuff. It’s great. It’s part of football. The great competitors, the great athletes all embrace it. I see myself as no different. I’m going to continue to embrace it every day, face it every day and wait for my opportunity to overcome that.”
That seems to be the consensus. Use the game as motivation for something bigger. But, will it help the Bengals prepare for the playoffs? Is it enough to get them over the hump?
Lewis has expressed that it’s time for the Bengals to forget the past. At this point, they have a crucial stretch of games, to open the season. Vontaze Burfict will be serving his suspension during the Week 2 Pittsburgh battle. There’s also a battle against the defending Super Bowl champs. The Denver Broncos may be without Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler, but they still have the D. Von Miller and Co. can win a game without much offense.
In seven days, the Bengals will be asked to forget the past again and prepare for the future. Hopefully, this time, they’ll get it right.
[Photo by John Minchillo/AP]