The Cincinnati Bengals have had some awful teams over the years, but is the 2019 team somehow the worst in franchise history?
After being founded as an expansion franchise in the AFL in 1968, the Cincinnati Bengals were at least a competent organization until founder Paul Brown’s death in 1991.
His son Mike Brown took over and the franchise hasn’t won a playoff game since.
Cincinnati was the breeding ground of two NFL offenses: the West Coast Offense under Bill Walsh and the No-Huddle Offense under Sam Wyche. The Bengals went to two Super Bowls in the 1980s, but couldn’t beat Walsh’s San Francisco 49ers on either occasion.
Though the Bengals have made the AFC playoffs seven times this century, Marvin Lewis couldn’t win a single postseason game. Cincinnati parted ways with its long-time head coach last offseason and hired a guy that wasn’t even an offensive coordinator with the Los Angeles Rams in Zac Taylor. Through nine games so far in 2019, Taylor’s team has lost every one of them.
Are we watching the worst team in Bengals franchise history, a football team that has played for over 50 years? Where does whatever Taylor is doing in 2019 fall in the abyss of awful Bengals football seasons? This can’t be the worst year in Bengals franchise history, right?
Since 1968, the Bengals have had 27 losing seasons, including their current 0-9 mark in 2019. However, the Bengals have won at least two games every single season. The only time Cincinnati managed just two wins was during Dick LeBeau’s 2-14 campaign in 2002. He was fired after the season following two years on the job. Cincinnati used the No. 1 overall pick to draft Carson Palmer.
So if a two-win season is a nadir, the ’19 Bengals have to hope they’re not destined to be worse than. Outside of the horrendous 2002 campaign, the Bengals have had five three-win seasons and nine four-win seasons. Talk about awful football.
While Brown, Lewis, Wyche, Forrest Gregg and Bill Johnson at least had good to reasonable success coaching in Cincinnati, Taylor looks to be on the bad list that features LeBeau, Homer Rice, Dave Shula and Bruce Coslet.
Though Rice was only briefly bad in the late 1970s before Gregg came to the Queen City, Shula, Coslet and LeBeau gave the Bengals something close to 11 years from hell from 1992-02. The Bengals did not have a winning season from 1991-05. The best part of 1990s Bengals football was watching Jeff Blake throw bombs to Carl Pickens and Darnay Scott in the mid-’90s.
It’s still early in Taylor’s head-coaching career, as he’ll be getting a franchise quarterback of his choice with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Perhaps either Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert or Tua Tagovailoa will be his version of Ken Anderson or a Boomer Esiason that’ll get him to a Super Bowl. Hell, even Palmer or an Andy Dalton that will at least get him playing in playoff games?
But at this time, Taylor’s team has the stink worse than the Shula, Coslet or LeBeau teams. Outside of Rice, every coach in Bengals history has gotten at least two years. Knowing that Brown is beyond reluctant to eat a cent of any contract, Taylor won’t be one-and-done like many expect he could be.
So is this the worst team in Bengals history? Well, the 2019 team has to lose at least five more times for that to be statistically possible. At 2-14, they’d be right there with that 2002 mess that forced LeBeau back into being a career defensive coordinator. Should this team go 1-15 or even 0-16, yes. Yes, this will be the worst team in Bengals franchise history. Only time will tell.