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Why Your Team Sucks 2019: Cincinnati Bengals

Photo: Bryan Woolston (AP)

Some people are fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Cincinnati Bengals. This 2019 Deadspin NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.

Your team: [Terry Bradshaw voice] THE BINGLES

(That joke courtesy of an old chestnut from The Mighty MJD)

Your 2018 record: 6-10. This after a 4-1 start. The Bengals finished behind Cleveland in the division, which no one had done since 2010. Do I even need to tell you which team that finished behind the Browns that year? Reader, I do not. You can sense the truth rustling in your soul. If the Browns can’t fuck something up, the Bengals will step in to finish the job.

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Only the Raiders and Bucs gave up more points than the Bengals last season, but those two don’t count. When it comes to bad defenses, the Bucs and Raiders are the free Wheel of Fortune bonus round letters. They mean nothing. The Bengals, meanwhile, arrived in the septic tank after spending the better part of this decade sporting a talented defense that was prone to making big plays and committing HORRENDOUSLY ill-timed, malicious penalties in equal measure. But those two forces didn’t quite counterbalance one another last season. They gave up a 50-burger to Drew Brees and the Saints. They got burned on a 63-yard pass thrown by … Jarvis Landry. They tried bullying the Steelers again and again only to end up getting swept the same way they always do (they have not beaten Pittsburgh since 2015).

Over on offense, the immortal Jeff Driskel started five games and lost four of them. (Driskel became necessary after the team traded then-backup A.J. McCarron to Oakland for a fifth-rounder, a year after a Browns paperwork snafu caused the Bengals to miss out on getting a second and a third for him instead.) [Correction: The Bengals actually lost McCarron to Buffalo in free agency. So they got nothing for him!] They hired Hue Jackson after he got canned by the Browns, in a cheap Belichickian ploy to get trade secrets out of him. They then proceeded to lose six of seven and canned Hue themselves afterward. A.J. Green missed the final month of the season with an injury and could very well miss the first month of THIS season with a new malady. Tyler Eifert’s leg snapped like a dry wishbone. John Ross ran into a haunted forest and disappeared forever. Just a towering diarrhea fire all the way around.

AH, but perhaps it was worth it? People of Cincinnati, for the first time in 578 years, it’s my pleasure to introduce…

Your coach: NOT MARVIN LEWIS! Holy shit, they really went and did it. I can’t believe it. Marvin Lewis works for Herm Edwards now, so that means ASU won’t ever win a bowl game as long as he’s there. I bet Jeff Fisher’s burned up inside that Marvin Lewis underachieved with the Bengals for 16 years and yet somehow he’s the one who gets all the 7-9 jokes. Regardless of all that, I thought Marvin would be in Cincinnati past the AI uprising. I really did. But no! A year after nearly canning Marvin and then retracting and giving fans a severe case of orangeballs in the process, Mike Brown finally decided to trade in that old lemon in exchange for an off-brand Kliff Kingsbury. BEHOLD!

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when it’s time to crush some White Claws

That’s former Rams QB coach and every CPAC attendee Zac Taylor. Before getting this job, Taylor was only an offensive coordinator once in his career, with the 2015 Dolphins. Miami finished 26th in offense that year. Good thing the Bengals waited until the Rams’ offense was completely undressed in the Super Bowl to get their hands on this hot potato! Taylor staffed up by hiring OL coach Jim Turner, who was formerly run out of the league for knowing about Richie Incognito bullying Jonathan Martin and doing nothing about it. God forbid the COACH do some protecting. Here’s Taylor defending the hire:

I know the man and I know he’s a great person, great human. We talked about culture and bringing the right people in this building and I would never do anything that would tarnish the reputation of the Brown family and the Bengals organization if I didn’t believe in the person and know the person inside and out. And that’s why I’m excited to get Jim in here.

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Christ. All these teams talk endlessly about character, and then they go and hire complete shitbags and then insist that those shitbags have said character. We wanted to build a program everyone can be proud of, which is why we’ve brought in O.J. Simpson. And if Zac Taylor proves to be an empty vessel, you get to watch him founder for another two decades!

Your quarterback: OH YOU KNOW IT, BABY. Andy Dalton is still here, and so is Jeff Driskel too! With the Bengals, you don’t get everything new at once. That would be too weird and scary. Mike Brown is exactly as chintzy and restrained as the British Royal family, only 1/70th as attractive. Thus, like a zillion other NFL franchises, he can’t ever properly get his timing aligned when it comes to coaches, players, and front-office personnel (her name is Cindy and she’s Vice President of Travel Operations, thank you very much). So while beat writers get to ooh and ahh over the new coach’s youth and his whizzbang playbook, you’ve still got the same Ginger Edsel piloting the thing.

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Your only hope for salvation from Dalton is fourth-round pick Ryan Finley, whose name is WAY too close to Ryan Lindley’s for my taste. I can’t believe there’s a QB coming out of NC State who is not already a Promise Keeper freakshow who is already married with 17 children.

What’s new that sucks: Look man, every year all the Bengals can offer the world is a new shade of vomit. That’s true even with Zac Attack now in charge of things (you will surely hear that the new head coach is the second-youngest head coach in the NFL every time you watch the Bengals, but hopefully you won’t be watching the Bengals). Vontaze Burfict is gone, and yet the organizational framework that nurtured his miserable on-field behavior remains very much intact. This team remains about as enjoyable as sex after couples therapy.

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That joke I made about John Ross disappearing? A lie. He’s still here. I’m so sorry. John Ross is a go route that leads directly to a nuclear waste lake. They re-signed Tyler Eifert, even though he’s only caught 19 balls the past two seasons. Joe Mixon is still the RB and still very much on the verge of doing some Tyreek Hill shit at any given moment. They brought back Andre Smith in what I can only assume was an act of charity. They’ll probably bring back Marvin too to hang out in the draft room next spring.

And then there is poor A.J. Green. Green has been so dazzlingly consistent in his time with the Bengals, but that’s over now. The Bengals ran him on a practice field made of ball bearings, so now he’ll have torn ankle ligaments to nurse all season long, as Taylor forces Dalton to throw two-inch hitch routes out of a five-wide formation 78 times a game. Their left guard retired because of a blood clot, their first-round left tackle will probably miss the season with a shoulder injury, and Green got taken out by Dayton’s shitty turf. Honestly, A.J. was overdue to be washed up, given who drafted him. Look at the Bengals’ history of first-round draft picks. They’re all hurt their first season. It’s uncanny. AJ Green simply staved off the virus longer than most.

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What has always sucked: This is all a shoddy penny stock grift. Mike Brown got his billion-dollar stadium and he got cronies planted in the local government to hide all of the organized embezzlement for him:

The county’s lawyer in the negotiations insisted to the Enquirer that making public these public documents would “place the county and its taxpayers at a competitive disadvantage.”

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So true. If we told you how badly taxpayers were getting ripped off, we might lose our leverage to give Mike Brown MORE money he doesn’t deserve! Every NFL team is its own little microcosm of what’s wrong with Americas as a whole, but the Bengals give us perhaps the purest distillation of our current hell, with an obscenely wealthy trust fund crank siphoning millions upon millions of dollars from fellow citizens in need, all for the right to build up cardboard edifices of a failed enterprise. This is the prevailing modus operandi for the United States in 2019, and it’s gleefully enabled by fans and voters who have the collective IQ and compassion of a fucking coyote:

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Great persons. Great humans. Real character folk. There’s a reason MAGA hat teen was spawned nearby. Cincy is like if Kentucky formed an amoeba-like pseudopod that reached out and annexed an entire city across the border: a horrible, downtrodden, racist-as-shit city. Lotta racist bones in a lot of bodies here. Every time I look at the Bengals, I am hit with the realization that things cannot ever be un-fucked, neither for them nor in general. The Bengals are me opening up Twitter every morning and asking myself why I bothered.

What might not suck: With all the line injuries, and with Taylor’s inevitable fixation on passing too much despite that, you’re a lock to see Finley enter a game at some point because all the other quarterbacks have been emptied like a Juicero bag.

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HEAR IT FROM BENGALS FANS!

Alex:

Marvin Lewis was fired and I still feel nothing.

William:

The long-term momentum of this team has always been downward.

Zachary:

All of our fans are dumbasses who smell like shitty weed and river water.

Jon:

If Fred Trump had owned a football team instead of making his living by ignoring the Fair Housing Act, our president would have turned out a lot like Mike Brown.

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Drake:

Marvin is gone, and somehow I know we are even more fucked.

Richard:

Zac Taylor is Dave Shula 2.0.

Garret:

Surely Ryan Finley is the antithesis of Andy Dalton, right? Scouting report says he is a “game manager” with a “below average arm” and “not a dual threat”.

*WALKS RIGHT THE FUCK INTO TRAFFIC*

Byron:

Marvin Lewis is gone. I should feel good, but I don’t.

Nick:

The last time they won a playoff game I was 11. I’m now 40. I remember being excited for David Klingler’s first start in 1992. He was sacked 10 times in that game.

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Eric:

Mike Brown has to die at some point. That’s the only unifying point of hope the city has in the team.

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Andy:

These fuckers have a backdoor deal with the county that’s going to fuck me in the back door for another 25 years. The Bengals are a cancer on this city. Mike Brown must die.

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Michael:

Mike Brown is worth an estimated $925 million. He can go pay for his own goddamn “holographic replay system.”

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Cody:

My dad moved to St. Paul recently and now shamelessly roots for the Vikings and loves Mike Zimmer, the coach we should have kept. Fuck you, dad.

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BuckeyeNative:

Leave it to the Bengals to chase the youth fad despite their owner perennially knocking on death’s door.

Hamilton County taxpayers are still on the hook for whatever technological upgrades the Bengals want for Paul Brown Stadium that might not even exist yet.

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David:

This dump of a city declared February 25th “Zac Taylor Day” and the guy has never even coached a down.

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Cameron:

My top moment as a Bengals fan, and maybe as a sports fan in general, was being in attendance to see Vontaze Burfict intercept Landry Jones in the playoff catastrophe of January 9th, 2016. Since I am a delusional fan of a cursed team, I knew we had this game in the bag. People around me were crying and hugging each other because they are just like me when it comes to Bengals fandom.

You know what happened next. I hate this team.

William:

Mark Twain said that when the world ends, he wants to be in Cincinnati because it’s always twenty years behind the times. The Bengals regularly get frazzled by reverses and flea flickers whenever the Steelers come to town, as if these trick plays are anything new. How does anyone expect this team to suddenly intellectually outfox the rest of the league when we probably won’t know what a jet sweep is until the year 2030?

The coach has the same name as the lousy 12th president of the Untied States, who died in office after drinking a glass of contaminated milk.

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Chris:

We drafted our Quarterback of the future Ryan Finley, who has one of the most permanent second-stringer names I’ve ever heard. Bengal fans are becoming resentful that we wasted Andy Dalton’s prime. Let that sink in.

The Bengals are a deplorable organization. Nobody wants to see them win and everybody else is about to have a great season.

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Chris:

I’ve spent that last several seasons hoping each one would be Marvin Lewis’s last with the team. Now he’s actually gone and I’m now almost immediately wishing he wasn’t.

This is what Bengals fandom has done for me. I am already fondly remembering consistent, practically rock-solid-reliable mediocrity because that’s as good as it will ever be for this team.

I’ve told my son, on several occasions, that he can be a fan of whatever other goddamn team he chooses.

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Eric:

Two years ago my dad got suddenly ill with a blood infection and, as he lay dying, I asked if he wanted to watch the Bengals play the Jags. He nodded yes. One of my last memories with him is watching the Jags beat the shit out of the Bengals. He died the next day. I blame the Bengals and Marvin Lewis for his death.

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Rob:

My ex-wife and her family were Bengals fans so I started rooting for them. Recently divorced, I had an opportunity for a new team. I’m currently dating a Bengals fan. You can get out of a marriage, but you can’t escape the Bengals.

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Michael:

Paul Brown Stadium smells like stale farts. In order to try and boost ticket sales this year they revamped the concessions menu to offer trendy foods like Wagyu beef and street tacos. So now the stadium smells like handcrafted, scratch-made, artisanal farts.

The only reason Cincinnatians really never embraced Marvin Lewis like they do Skyline, OTR or 98 Degrees is because Marvin Lewis is black and Cincinnati is racist.

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Chris:

Our owner dresses like Dwight Schrute. We will never raise the Lombardi Trophy. Very much looking forward to hating myself while watching this team go 6-10. Again.

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Harrison:

I remember being told to sit down and stop cheering as a seven-year-old at Riverfront stadium. “They always find a way to blow it” I was told. The ghost of that beaten down woman with pocket radio haunts my fandom to this day.

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Zach:

I would rather go braindead like you almost did than watch the Bengals finally complete their destiny and become the new Browns.

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Andy:

There was about 30 seconds of playoff enjoyment in Marvin’s time at the helm, when Burfict ran with the interception from Landry Jones all the way to the tunnel on the other end of the field. I should have known that premature celebrations would result in Jeremy Hill fumbling it all away on the next fucking play.

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Paddy:

A.J. Green, an actual top class superstar athlete, will never make the HOF because he plays for a franchise owned by some fat cheap fucker who has robbed an entire city of more than enough money to properly educate their children. I honestly just tried ignoring these useless fuckers the last two seasons, but I still can’t get away from them. It’s just a beige nothingness of disappointment pretending to be interesting by tarting themselves up with jaunty stripes.

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Brian:

The Bengals are notoriously frugal, so Mike Brown grabs bottom-five tackle Bobby Hartand third string TE CJ Uzomah to 3 year deals. It’s the same as asking your dad for an inflatable pool in this heat wave and he fills the garbage can up with a hose.

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Jay:

If it weren’t for AJ Green this team wouldn’t have won more than eight games in any given season the past 10 years.

The year after drafting AJ Green, including this season, the Bengals first round draft picks have played in 67 and started 41 out of 144 games their rookie seasons. That’s a ratio of less than 50% for players just playing in the games much less starting. Fifty-five of the 67 games played in came from four players.

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John:

Last year my brother and I attended our first Deadspin awards. It was fun in a specifically dorky kind of way and we dug it. We were excited told you we were both from Cincinnati. You were nice and chatted with us for a few; you brought up the Bengals and asked us our thoughts on a few things. The next day, your brain went kaput.

Drew, that is just the normal way Bengals fans feel every Sunday, YA BIG BABY!

Richard:

Did Mike Brown hire a highly coveted former head coach or proven, hot assistant? He did not. He hired a clipboard holder from Sean McVay’s staff. I am having a hard time being convinced that the former offensive coordinator of the University of Cincinnati who was canned for running such a shitty offense during the awful Tommy Tuberville days could magically turn his abilities around in two years while contributing next to nothing to the development of the Rams explosive offense.

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John:

The Bengals are the perfect encapsulation of everything that’s wrong with the NFL: amoral ownership with proudly horrific politics, a nepotistic management structure that not only won’t change but can’t, stadium funding agreements with the local community that verge on war crimes, and a governing philosophy of gleeful greed and utter incompetence that can never improve, and which cannot be held in check due to the aforementioned ownership and management situations.

I’m tired of feeling like shit four months out of every year. I quit fantasy, I’m done being a football die-hard. This team and sport are dead to me, and far too late, though I am looking forward to watching Big Ben disintegrate over the next couple decades into a pile of sandy mud with a MAGA hat on top.

Fuck Joey Porter with a rusty nail.

Wesley:

What the fuck kind of deal with the government, Russia, aliens and/or mole people did Mike Brown make with this stadium?? Do the Illuminati hold orgies in the bowels of it? Is the real recipe for Gold Star chili laced into the walls? Are they building a gate to the fucking Upside Down in there?? Whatever it is I’m sure it’s some nightmare built on this owner’s corruption that no doubt generates all manner of bad karma and juju that will fuck this franchise until the end of time.

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Brenton:

It was last September right before the start of the 2018 NFL season. l was in Vegas with my family and l happened to witness the purest exchange of Bengals fandom one could hope to in the wild. My brother and l are in an Uber to heading to White Castle (l live in Texas so l had never had it) and we pass a guy in a Tyler Eifert jersey walking down the street. I said to my brother as we were getting out of the car, “There’s some poor fuck in a Bengals jersey back there. That can’t be easy.” Sure enough, while in line the guy in the Eifert jersey and his girlfriend (also wearing Bengals gear) come in and are standing behind us. As we get closer to the front near the registers, a middle-aged bald man, somewhat inebriated and wearing an Ohio State shirt, turns around after placing his order, stops once he sees the Bengals fans, shrugs, and says, “l think the Bengals are going to fuck it up on Sunday.” To which the guy in the Eifert jersey replies, “Wouldn’t surprise me.” I found that to be a rather poignant display of what it’s like to be a fan of that franchise. Less than 36 away from kickoff of a brand new NFL season and there’s absolutely no reason for hope.

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About the author

Drew Magary

Drew Magary is a Deadspin columnist and columnist for GEN magazine. You can buy Drew's second novel, The Hike, through here.