This was originally published in The Athletic.
When the Bengals choked away that playoff game against the Steelers more than three years ago, the most commonly used refrains that didn’t involve loud usage of expletives were that after five consecutive playoff appearances, the franchise’s proverbial window to win something meaningful had been slammed shut.
Turns out, those premonitions were on point. The Bengals haven’t sniffed the postseason since that terrible, rainy night in January 2016. Each subsequent season has been more disastrous and off-putting than the previous one, and all of them have further tarnished a franchise that keeps hitting rock bottom, only to find a better shovel. The window closed the very instant Chris Boswell’s field goal try completed Pittsburgh’s theft of a victory that night, and it’s remained unopened to this day.
It’s not opening anytime soon......
.....The Bengals are not getting better. Even when (if?) they do start bringing guys in from outside, it stretches credibility to suggest that the results will produce a team that’s appreciably better than the one that spent last season’s final month playing out the string. The Steelers are going in an uncertain direction and the Ravens’ roster has limitations, but the Bengals will probably be the odds-on favorite to finish last in the division. The best-case scenarios for the Bengals in 2019 don’t involve competing for a championship.
Problem is, they’re probably not quite bad enough to completely bottom out.
Guys, it’s time to embrace the tank.
To read more, go to The Athletic.