The Cincinnati Bengals were one of the biggest surprises in the NFL a season ago. Led by the dynamic rookie duo of Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, the Bengals made great stridesearning a wild card spot in the AFC before getting eliminated by the Houston Texans in what looked like it would be a rebuilding season. As NFL fans, we’ve all seen this before. Cincinnati having a fluke year only to return back to irrelevance shortly after but these seem to be a different group of Bengals. Much of the toxicity seems to have been removed from the locker room, they are coming off what looks to be yet another great draft and unless Andy Dalton goes through a sophomore slump, Cincy looks like they will be in the playoff mix for a second straight year.
Marvin Lewis joined ESPN 101 in St. Louis with Zach and the Coach to talk about how he feels about the season last year, what he thinks the ceiling is for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, why the team decided not to re-sign Jerome Simpson, whether he would like the Bengals to be on Hard Knocks again and whether he thinks kickoffs will be eliminated from the game.
On how he feels about the season last year:
“I don’t think unless you’re holding up that trophy at the end are you totally satisfied but I thought we made some progress and I thought it was a key point for the organization as far as a restart in a lot of ways. A new offense, a new quarterback, a lot of new players and a lot of young players and really a chance for us to refocus as coaches and as I said you don’t get a chance many times to start over in the same spot and we did.”
What the ceiling is for Andy Dalton and A.J. Green:
“Well hopefully there is no ceiling and they keep going. A.J. can burst any seam there is, he continues to get better, I think he has had a very, very good start to the season and I think Andy and he both have really matured as people, they’ll continue to grow as players, and the confidence level I think they have just scratched the surface last year and it got good to them. They like the way it worked, they liked the way it tasted and you can see them even hungrier right now.”
On the decision to not re-sign Jerome Simpson:
“We really kind of felt it was best for Jerome to restart somewhere else and he ended up in Minnesota so you just have to wish him good luck. He had really an unfortunate thing he got involved with last year and he got out of it and he took a hit, he took some water but I hope for his sake and for his career, he’s a wonderful person, and that was really quite a surprise and quite a shock to everyone but lesson well learned and he’s getting a restart now with the Vikings. It’s great, he’s an extremely hard worker so you have to wish nothing but the best for Jerome and that he can reap the benefit of all that athleticism that he has.”
Whether he would like the Bengals to be on Hard Knocks again:
“We’ve done our time for the NFL right now. (Host: So no?) I think it’s a great thing for your fans and I think they get a great perspective behind the scenes, they really get a look at your football team and if we were doing this right now we’d be sitting there and the camera would be on us right now as I’m making this call so it’s really a 24-7 deal. No matter what you do there’s a camera there.”
Whether kickoff returns will be removed from the game completely:
“That’s more scuttlebutt and the special teams overreacting a little bit. There is an injury factor to the kickoff. We’ve tried to revise it a little bit last year and see if we can help some of those collisions and I think it was a positive but we only have one year of data and so the feeling coming out of the competition committee was to let’s play it again this year, see what happens and if we have to make any revisions or changes because I think everybody loves the kickoff. It’s an exciting play, certainly teams that have great returners want to continue with that as part of the game and it’s an exciting play for the fans. We had a lot more touchbacks last year particularly early in the year as the weather begins to change. I think that it all evens out a little bit but we do want, the sense was to have a second year of the study of the change and see its affects”