Hey, I'm a realist.
Looking back at the miserable 2017 season. The record was bad, 7-9, but the losses were worse.
And the hardest losses didn't even come on the field. Allowing Kevin Zeitler and, most importantly, Andrew Whitworth to leave via free agency left the offensive line a shell. Even with Zeitler and Whitworth, the line in 2016 was bad. What chance did they stand without them? None. And that's why the scored a whopping 0 touchdowns in their first two games.
It was miracle the Bengals even made it to 7 wins given how bad their offensive line was. And had they not lost Vontaze Burfict against the Titans and lost in OT to the Pack and blew a huge first half lead to the hateful Steelers, the Bengals would have logged 10 wins and made the damn playoffs! Where they would have been one and done yet again. Make no mistake about that.
Still, here were the highlights from last season.
Why Marvin Lewis kept giving Jeremy Hill the first series every game and then benching him for Mixon, I will never know. Dumbest thing ever. Just put Mixon in and let him be your bell cow, which is the plan for next year with Gio Bernard working as an excellent third down back and change of pace back. Mixon should log the first 1,000 season for a Bengals back since Hill's rookie year of 2014.
Even Green admits he had a 'down' year. But when you're a first ballot hall of famer, even a 'down' year is pretty great.
I think his 189 yard, 1 touchdown game illustrates Green's year. While he helped them win it with his stellar performance, he did have a hand in them almost losing (having a hand in 3 turnovers). But his talent is undeniable.
He is still the best DT in the league, sorry Aaron Donald. Yes, Donald plays for a sexier team (the LA Rams), but just watch Atkins destroy a team sometime and you'll see what I mean.
Here he is on the list of top 100 players for 2018.
They have never had a defensive lineman like this man. Yes, Tim Krumrie was great, but he is no Geno. I have seen Geno take so many guards and walk them back and knock the quarterback over for a sack that I've lost count. Who else does that?
The emergence of Darquez Dennard and William Jackson III in the secondary for the Bengals.
I hope they lock Dennard up before the season begins. He is a great nickel corner and could supplement Dre Kirkpatrick before the season is done.
William Jackson III has the makings of a mega-star. Let's hope he builds upon his epic first season as a starter. Best of all, he is the perfect opponent to limit Antonio Brown's big plays. Jackson's only huge error was failing to knock Bell out of bounds on a long touchdown catch. That play signaled the turn in momentum for the Bengals in that key late season match up.
And the play that ended their season and, best of all, the Raven's playoff hopes.
Facing fourth and forever, Dalton hits Tyler Boyd perfectly for not just a first down, but a TD! And it ends the Ravens shot at a post season birth (no big deal. They had to beat the Bengals and the Bengals kicked their ass most of this game anyway). Best of all, it sent the Bills to the post season for the first time since they lost the "Musical City Miracle" game to the Titans.