This was originally published in The Athletic.
The next head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals is going to take on some highly difficult tasks. About five minutes after being introduced, he will immediately begin to assume the weight of a franchise’s rather ignominious history, he will have the demands of a fan base that’s long since exhausted its patience and he’ll be instantly given the burden of trying to pull a franchise deeper into the current century than his owner would probably prefer.
The new guy will inherit a roster that has plenty of assets but is still woefully incomplete, headlined by a quarterback whose upside is limited. He’ll be saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that whatever personnel changes the Bengals make translate into more victories than losses, all while working underneath a front office that isn’t exactly known for its aggressiveness in making upgrades.
Oh, and the new head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals will also be in charge of getting a new stadium built.
Aside from finding out if the new head coach can become the first of his predecessors since Sam Wyche to win a playoff game , or if I’m allowed to even go there, be the first Bengals head man to be handed a Lombardi trophy, there are two other big-picture things that loom as the most interesting questions facing this franchise.
One is what they’ll do with Andy Dalton, who has two years remaining on a team-friendly deal that he’ll likely seek a raise from, putting the team at the intersection of two things they value: stability and not overpaying. The Bengals would probably love to have Dalton lead them into the next decade, but only on their terms. What happens across the next two seasons with possible free agency approaching, and the uncertainties that would come with moving on to another quarterback are fascinating.
The other thing is the issue of figuring out where the Bengals will be playing at the end of the next decade.
To read the entire piece, go to The Athletic.