Some people are fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. This 2014 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group.
Your team: Cincinnati Bengals
Your 2013 record: 11-5. And you're not gonna believe this, but they lost their first round playoff game. I know! CRAZY, RIGHT?! You know how any playoff team gets asked, "Hey, what team would you like to face?" and they're all diplomatic and they say, "Aw shucks, we'll play anyone because we're just that gosh darn competitive"? That's a lie. They want the Bengals. Come playoff time, everyone wants a piece of Marvin Lewis. Every time the Bengals make the playoffs, they look like a team that got swapped in at the last second because the REAL playoff team came down with the flu.
Your coach: Marvin Lewis. Still just hanging around, like a shitty teacher who got tenure. While the divisional rival Steelers practice continuity as a matter of sound business, the Bengals never change anything because Mike Brown is both cheap and lazy. The worst part is that, if the Bengals ever fired Marvin, they would go out and immediately hire someone who is even worse. It's not even a question. They would pluck Gregg Williams off the shitheap, or make some other horrible choice. And so rooting for the Bengals means wanting Marvin Lewis fired but kinda also not REALLY wanting him fired because you don't trust Mike Brown at all with any sort of important decision making.
Coordinators Mike Zimmer (whom Bengals fans liked) and Jay Gruden (whom Bengals fans despised) are now gone. Your new offensive coordinator is… HUE!!!!!!!!!!
In retrospect, that video is terrifying. You can actually see Chad Johnson's brain leaking out of his head. Football is not a safe sport. Anyway, I bet at some point, Hue holds a secret meeting with Brown to figure out the best way to plunge a knife into Marvin's back. Call it Week 8 at the latest.
Your quarterback: Andy Dalton. Three playoff games: Six picks, one touchdown. I admire such consistency. It's a measure of how divisive Dalton is that he signed a contract extension and people went batshit, even without knowing any of the real contract parameters. It was just, "Holy shit! I can't believe they gave him ANY money!" Again, this is the problem with the Bengals. Andy Dalton throws MANY MANY interceptions, enough to make you vomit. It's a byproduct of the Bengals' offensive philosophy of, "Throw it deep to AJ Green and hope the other team doesn't catch on." But the Bengals have been so shitty for so long that three straight playoff appearances essentially makes Lewis/Dalton a kind of sad dynasty that the team can't bring itself to dismantle.
Like Lewis, if the Bengals ever got rid of Dalton, they would just end up drafting someone HORRIBLE. Like Jeff Blake III, or a Wyche grandchild. This current iteration of the Bengals is pretty much the best the organization can do. "We've got a good thing going here, making the playoffs and getting our asses kicked every time! WE CAN'T JEOPARDIZE IT!" They got the 16 in blackjack and they're just praying the dealer goes bust. So enjoy Andy Dalton for the next 10 years, Bengals fans. This team avoids risk like a pregnant woman on bed rest.
What's new that sucks: AJ McCarron! At least now when the Bengals lose a playoff game, they can cut to Katherine Webb looking bored in the stands and you can spend an hour arguing over whether or not that couple is a sham.
Also, for perhaps the first time ever, a Bengal was pulled over by the cops and it was the COP who was the belligerent one. So that's a refreshing change of pace.
What has always sucked: You already know that Mike Brown is a cheapskate sleazebag who is robbing Cincinnati blind and smothering this team in his old man farts to keep them from making any kind of notable progress. That's all a given at this point. The Bengals are assembled not unlike a plate of Skyline Chili. They have the right idea, but when they assemble the recipe, it looks like something that shot out of the asshole of a diseased beagle. I mean, look at this…
I'm not sure that's enough cheese. It looks like someone walked into the restaurant and said, "Hey, give me a pile of diarrhea and put Andy Dalton's hair on top of it." Here is it from the NBSEEIT angle:
Why are there crackers there? What purpose do they serve? "Hey, you know what this starch needs? STARCH." This is food for people who miss school food. They can't even finish the pasta IN the sauce. They just dump it on top like a bunch of assholes. The fact that I have to subsidize heart stents for Cincy-area children with my tax money angers me. This is comfort food for people with absolutely no sense of good taste, which is why it's beloved in Cincinnati, the Deep South of Ohio. It's Kentucky trying to disguise itself with a different pair of overalls. Everyone in Cincy is a creationist. They built a museum to honor the Underground Railroad and here's one sterling review of it:
Okay! I guess spending the rest of eternity watching Dalton turn the ball over and seeing Terence Newman get toasted is karma at its finest.
What might not suck: Geno Atkins is back to full health, and Marvin Jones is a beast opposite AJ Green on offense. Once again, the Bengals probably have the best roster in the division, not that it will end up amounting to much.
Hear it from Bengals fans!
I interned at family court when I was in grad school. Some guy showed up for a 9am Child Services hearing wearing a blood-spattered Carl Pickens jersey. The judge was stunned and asked if the guy was on drugs, to which he responded "Yeah, and drunk too." You can imagine where it went from there. This actually happened.
I was in Cincinnati for college. One evening while out with my two friends in Fountain Square (one being an African American male, and one being a ginger-headed male) a woman approached us with her son. The woman had at least five teeth missing and appeared to be high, drunk, or both. She went up to my black friend, assuming he was (Reds Second Baseman) Brandon Phillips. The son then freaked out seeing my red-headed friend, believing him to be Andy Dalton. They left (read: stumbled away) awestruck. And it nearly happened a second time the same night, and I wish I was kidding about that.
I fully expect AJ Green to run screaming out of this city when he gets called out for not playing hard in week 7 when he fails to catch the 59th ball Dalton threw to him in sextuple coverage.
Fuck Joe Montana, fuck Jerry Rice, fuck Bruce Coslet, fuck KiJana Carter, fuck Dick LeBeau, and absolutely fuck Mike Brown in the ass with pineapples wrapped in sandpaper.
Throughout the game, I can't get over the amount of farts I smell all smelling like Cincinnati chili. Everywhere you look at a Bengals game you see overweight toothless midwestern hillbillies sucking down chili and farting the whole game. It's disgusting. I never knew how bad it was until I went to a Colts game and it smelled like Febreeze compared to Paul Brown Stadium.
We just gave our ginger quarterback who wears a rubber wedding ring and listens to "Our God is an Awesome God" to pump himself up for football games 100 million dollars.
I am almost 24 years old. In my entire life I have only owned one jersey of any sort from any team. It is a Terrell Owens Bengals jersey.
Fuck Carson Palmer.
The last memory I have of attending a game was the year right before they moved into Paul Brown Stadium, after Mike Brown skullfucked Hamilton County into agreeing to the most ludicrous stadium deal in history.
We were watching the game and there happened to be a family in front of us with two little kids, a boy and a girl. The parents, particularly the mother, proceeded to get obliterated. This tended to happen at Bengals games in the 1990s because they were usually down by 40 points at half time. Her daughter started crying because she was ignoring her and refused to give her a sip of her soda. The crying child kept getting louder until the mother threw an entire cup of Pepsi into the kid's face. She then reached over her husband and started smacking the shit out of her. The people behind us started hurling hot dogs and sodas at the mom. The family promptly picked up their children and ran away….
There are two kinds of Bengals games:
1) They play like shit but somehow manage to limp into a boring win.
2) They play well but fuck up and lose by a field goal.
Which means that win or lose, they're always unbearable to watch. They've managed to discover some sort of Sisyphean wormhole where they statistically get better year after year, but are still the same disappointing team I remember from my childhood that will never win a playoff game.
Being a Cincy fan also means putting up with Boomer Esiason's commentary. At least once per game, you'll hear his partner start a sentence with "Actually Boomer,..." because Esiason managed to fuck up some fundamental fact about how the game of football is played. Boomer'll be damned if he has to learn any rule changes. Let the nerds explain it.
Can't wait to "enjoy" another 10-6 season, and watch our soulless ginger QB throw five hilariously ill-advised picks in a first-round home loss to, oh, let's say the Chiefs this time. That feels about right. Then sign him to a long-term deal the next day. Fuck this team.
The team should have fired Marvin Lewis and replaced him with Zimmer. The most illuminating part of Hard Knocks was how Lewis does absolutely nothing. He's on the phone constantly, arranging practice times, dividing up practice fields, listening to the Browns, and doing everything that a glorified camp counselor would do. He's zombie with a headset.
The Bengals are the most talented team in the league that is absolutely fucked.
There are a lot of Buckeye fans in southern Ohio. Seems like the team burns a draft pick on some throwaway OSU player (Hi, Dane SANZENBACCCCA) to pull some added interest from college football fans every couple years. None of this translates to a really good football team, and the owner knows it. He also knows he's going to make millions despite all this.
We'll always be known as the bumbling, shitdick ex-con safe haven we once were. When we cock up on national TV, Cris Collinsworth, that freeze-dried Judas in corpse makeup, will say, "they're just the Bengals!" Steelers fans will use their one firing brain cell to mouth-fart "WE OWN UR STADIUM." We'll make the playoffs, Giovani Bernard will drop a pass like it's covered in bacon grease, and home we'll go, still winless in the playoffs, still mired in quarterback questions, still, and forevermore, the fucking Bengals.
Whenever the Bengals do something abhorrent on the field you can count on stone-faced life coach Marvin Lewis affirming them with exaggerated clapping, a muted smile and patting them on the rear ends triumphantly as they trot over to the sidelines. Knock that shit off. Be upset.
A coworker once saw our owner Mike Brown at a grocery store in Cincinnati. He was in the cereal aisle looking at 2 boxes of cereal. Then looking at their prices. Then back at the cereal boxes.
Our multi millionaire owner of an NFL franchise was trying to figure out which box contained more ounces of food per dollar.
Bengals fans are noted for their lack of enthusiasm for their team. Games sellout, thanks to the visiting teams fans buying half the tickets. The Bengals fans that have tickets probably got them because some local company bought a bunch of them at the last minute and gave them away. The fans that do show up just sit there waiting for the offense to fuck up. The past few seasons this means waiting for the defense to make a big stop and then watching Dalton come out and throw a pick and immediately send the defense back out onto the field. However, this is still better than the latter part of the Carson Palmer era.
There's heat between the fans and the players. Dalton got booed last year, and the only people in the league who think he didn't deserve to be booed after throwing 20 picks and tanking yet another playoff game are the Bengals players and coaches. Guys like Andrew Whitworth bitch about how the fans don't really support the team. This is like thinking Charlie Brown should send a "thank you" card to Lucy.
The owner, Mike Brown, is the sports owner equivalent of Ed Wood. The coach has been here 12 seasons now and hasn't won a playoff game yet. He gets upset whenever the media points out this fact, as if no one has any right to expect a team that won 11 games and its division to have any post-season success.
There's no other sports organization on the planet that would keep a coach who hasn't won a playoff game for that long. All the recent success the team has had is due to Mike Zimmer being the defensive coordinator. With him, the defense was top 5 or 10 in the league and could bail out the offense when Dalton tanked. He even made something decent out of Pacman Jones. They could have let Marvin go and promoted Zimmer. Instead they let the Vikings have him and now the defense will be back to being terrible. On the plus side, Dan Dierdorf retired and won't be calling our games anymore.
In closing, fuck anyone who brings up that Marvin was the Ravens D coordinator back when they won their first Super Bowl.
Our 'club' level seating still has the big box TVs (not flat screens) in the concessions area. Why, you ask? Because if the Bengals want to upgrade, they send the county a bill and we pay for it.
We have a top 3 WR in the league, but for some reason in the playoffs, the coaching staff decides to ignore him.
Honestly, I preferred it when the Bengals were immediately awful right from the beginning of the season.
Due to Cincinnati's shitty stadium deal, another municipal building in Hamilton County shuts down while the stadium can't sell out games and on the inside, looks like an Apple Store that just went out of business.
Being a Bengals fan is advisable only if you hate yourself and the Steelers with a dire passion.
Our last playoff win was against the Houston Oilers in 1991. The Oilers franchise would win their last playoff game a year later in 1992. That's right, the artists formally known as the Houston Oilers have more playoff wins in the last 23 years than the Bengals...
Oh and fuck that fat coward of a hitman, Kimo Von Oelhoffen.
What gets me about being a Bengals fan is just how futile the whole exercise feels. In my lifetime (b. 1991), we've run the gamut from being abjectly horrible to passably mediocre, and even in recent years, something resembling good. But at no point in my life have I ever looked at the Bengals and thought to myself, "This team looks like it could win a Super Bowl. We belong in the conversation."
We can play all the great football we want, and it still won't matter, because at best, Andrew Luck will still throw for 400 yards and two TDs against us in the playoffs and beat us 17-13 in the second round.
Being a Bengals fan is painful for any number of reasons. But only now, having watched them crawl inch by inch out of the NFL's gutter, do I truly grasp the sheer meaninglessness of rooting for a team without a star quarterback. I thought my loyal fandom would win me some sort of satisfaction in watching the team grow after all these years. But instead of finding the temple at the top of the mountain, I stand face to face with a locked door, for which I was never given a key anyway. The whole enterprise has been pointless. Even at 11-5, there is nothing left for us to do but to blow it up, to fall all the way back down to the bottom and hope to find our savior in a decade's time. Therein lies the true reason my team sucks: all of their progress reveals the supreme unfairness of the sport itself. The Bengals are one of the only teams in the NFL that can actually ruin the sport itself for you.
It's pretty simple, the Bengals haven't won a playoff game since a month before I was born. I have already went to college, got a degree, and been working in the "real" world for a year and I've never seen a playoff victory. The closest we ever got was when Carson Palmer blew out his knee on the second play of the game and he was never the same after.
The Cincinnati game day experience is horrible, that is unless if you like to see 41,000 drunk people who couldn't get a ride to the Ohio State game the day before. The mood at Paul Brown Stadium at any given point during a game is just like your dad's growing up. The crowd coldly watches the game, as if even being there is above and beyond any expectation you could have had for them, while they choke back their insane, unpredictable rage until even the slightest, most mundane thing makes them just lose their shit and start screaming at you.
"Timeout!?! I don't bust my ass all week so you can take a timeout! Your brother wouldn't have called a timeout!" All of this while the stadium sound system blasts old cassettes that Mike Brown probably bought at a Sharonville garage sale back in 1993. You can hear the tape rewind after every time they play 'Bang the Drum All Day.'
Fans in Cincinnati refuse to buy tickets to games. And if you offer them tickets for free, they still won't go and they just get even more pissy about the team. I once won a charity raffle for tickets. I got a call about winning the tickets a solid four weeks after the raffle ended. Those four weeks saw the Bengals as the losers of three and the tiers of one. Guessing conservatively, those tickets were turned down three times a week until they got to me. Out of the five I won, two were actually used. For a team that has been around for forty some years, the Bengals have all the rich history and tradition of the Jacksonville Jaguars circa 1992.
Cincinnati is a weird place. It's an alternate reality where the South won the Civil War and the city was turned into an orphaned, international buffer zone between the Union and the Confederacy. In the weird alternate reality that is "The Nati", Pete Rose is the supreme all-time mayor. Food rationing during the war led people to create a replacement spaghetti that consisted of canned chili on bagged noodles with government cheese. To this day, they prefer the substitute spaghetti more than the real thing, even though it is wretched. In the city of Cincinnati, NASCAR, baseball, and college basketball are the only three sports that matter. In Cincinnati, restaurants just float away. The local economy is totally based on prescription painkillers and custom built cornhole boards. Opinions are dictated by talk radio trolls. The Emerald Ash Borer and bedbugs have united to ruin all spaces outside and in. Forensics students at the University of Cincinnati have the unique opportunity to hold class outside at a real unsolved crime scene every single day. And all the teachers at the local high schools have to preregister as sex offenders. With all of this, the upstart perpetual expansion team that is the Bengals, with their cheapskate owner and literacy first approach to logos, just can't find a loving audience.
Marvin Lewis is the continental breakfast of NFL coaching.
Bengals fans will slander the Browns at every chance, like we aren't an exact clone of the Browns placed four hours south. Bengals fans also like to revel in this fictional rivalry with the Steelers, when in reality nobody in Pittsburgh really cares about the Bengals.
I was at a game last year where I actually heard a kid turn to his dad and ask if they could go home and watch the rest of the game on TV.
Buying tickets through the team is a complete waste of money because no matter the magnitude of the game, you can pick some up off some vagabond before the game in exchange for a King Cobra and one of your shoelaces. Plus, that money would go to Mike Brown and whatever machine is still keeping him alive.
Last year I woke up the morning of the playoff game against the Chargers with no tickets. I thought to myself that as a 25-year-old native Cincinnatian, this could be the best sports day of my life up to this point, and I couldn't risk missing out on it. So I got on Craigslist and had tickets in under an hour. I wound up paying $50 to see two fumbles, two interceptions, a guy wearing a full X-Men Wolverine costume and an old man shouting "YOU OWE US TRIPLETTE," followed by blacking out at a downtown bar that had the post-game atmosphere of people who had just filed their taxes. You know, that demeanor of "Boy I'm glad that's over with, at least we have an entire year until we go through this exact same shit again."
Fuck Mike Brown with mattress spring.
On the other hand, if your defense can actually step foot one in front of the other and isn't led by whoever-was-coaching-the-Vikings last year, you get a different Dalton. This Dalton resembles a goose that's just been struck on the highway.
This was their video to fire the crowd up right before kickoff at every home game. They replaced it just last year. Also, the Bengals fight song is a polka tune.
Marvin Lewis (aka Black Mark Richt) and the decaying corpse of Mike Brown are still running this franchise. Fuck us, man. Seriously. FUCK. US.
We are the only team to have lost to the Houston Texans in the playoffs.
Fuck Dave Shula.
At least I'm not from Cleveland.
Mike Brown has completely broken the fans of this team. There are three types: First, the die-hards who despite 0 playoff wins in over 20 years shell out a few grand for season tickets, the whole time oblivious to the horrible mismanagement by Mike Brown and his shit organization. Second, the people who believe they're too smart to support a team like theBengals, Mike Brown, and the ludicrous stadium deal the team got so they'll go ahead and support the Pats/Packers/Broncos/Whoever all the while looking down at Bengals fans like Mitt Romney looks down at the help.
Finally, there are the fans in the middle, who hate Mike Brown but have a hard time turning their back on the team like the kid who accepts his deadbeat dad with open arms only to see him run off again with a Hooters waitress. This mix makes any Bengals gathering near intolerable as each type of fan tries to persuade the others that they're idiots. In the meantime, Mike Brown will field a shitty team with the longest tenured coach in the NFL (still 0 playoff wins), and sit back smiling knowing that his pockets are being filled with millions.
Their fanbase is what would happen if Caste Football became a city. There's no greater excitement in the air than when a white player arrives.
- We lose Andrew Hawkins (Bengals management could have tendered him correctly but they were too cheap, which, even before reading your article, I know is rightfully a theme) and now the next great special teams ace/WR4 is Dane Sanzenbacher. He converted 2 third-down plays last year, likely because defenses forgot he was an actual person on the field, and he is the second coming of Wes Welker.
- If you want to see something neat, here's something for you: bring up Jermaine Gresham, our great tight end, to watch someone become furious. Then bring up Tyler Eifert, our other great tight end, and watch an erection appear out of nowhere. Note that Gresham has been with the team for years and done great things for the Bengals, but he's good for a false start penalty once every two games, so the fanbase is counting down the hours until his contract runs out.
- Andre Smith could be the only RT named Super Bowl MVP in history but the statue built honoring his contributions to the city of Cincinnati would be that picture of him running shirtless.
All of this from a city that looks like it's lived in a dome where culture neither enters nor exits. If you see something that isn't a shade of brown or grey, it's because you've leaving Cincinnati.
All NFL owners pillage and loot their cities, but Mike Brown is the standard bearer. He has done things to the city of Cincinnati that you'd be disgusted to see in GIF form in a Jezebel comment thread.
The most exciting part of last year's first round playoff exit was watching two Cincinnati fans fistfight after one of them stumbled out of the stadium drunk and angry and decided to tear up a homeless veteran's "Need help" sign for no reason.
I have been a Bengals fan since I was about 6. That is not a boast, it's a confession. Being a Bengals fan during the playoffs is like trying to make it through a job interview while holding in a massive bout of diarrhea.
It's the kind of team that, when you wear the jersey in public in any other city, people love to tell you suck. Yes, trust me, I know.
Wanna be part of the Deadspin NFL previews? It's simple. Just email me and give me ample evidence of why your team sucks: personal anecdotes, encounters with fans, etc. I'll throw any good material into the post and give you proper credit. Next team up: THE BROWNS.