CINCINNATI BENGALS (7-9)
OPEN CAMP: July 26, Paul Brown Stadium
LAST YEAR: Missed playoffs for second straight season. Coach Marvin Lewis got two-year contract extension despite 0-7 playoff mark, worst in NFL history. He’s entering 16th season with Bengals, who have yet to win playoff game since 1990 season, longest active postseason drought in NFL and sixth longest in league history. Bill Lazor was promoted to interim offensive coordinator two games into season and retains role, given freedom to overhaul unit that finished last in yards. Teryl Austin was hired as defensive coordinator, replacing Paul Guenther, who joined Jon Gruden with Raiders.
IMPORTANT ADDITIONS: Lazor, LT Cordy Glenn, C Billy Price, QB Matt Barkley, LB Preston Brown.
IMPORTANT LOSSES: LB Vontaze Burfict (suspended for first four games for violating NFL’s policy on performance enhancers), QB AJ McCarron, C Russell Bodine, CB Adam “Pacman” Jones, RB Jeremy Hill.
CAMP NEEDS: Getting adjusted to Lazor’s overhauled offense and getting new pieces in place on line are overriding concerns. Austin is expected to stay with similar defense, but there will be competition for spots in line rotation. Once again, Bengals will spend preseason planning for Burfict’s absence — third straight season he’s been suspended by league. Bengals took gamble and signed TE Tyler Eifert to one-year deal loaded with incentives, hoping he can add to group that was subpar last season, but he was hurt again for training camp.
EXPECTATIONS: Two straight losing seasons led to significant drop in attendance at Paul Brown Stadium and reduced expectations for a team in decline. Bengals will have slightly different look with new coordinators, but overall direction won’t change much. If offensive line isn’t significantly better, redesigned playbook won’t much matter. By keeping Lewis for 16th season despite lack of playoff win, owner Mike Brown gave fans little reason to think things will be different. Brown would rather stay with coach and coaching philosophy that are familiar.
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