3 issues the Bengals MUST address this offseason
For the fourth straight season, the Cincinnati Bengals are one-and-done in the postseason.
Five second-half possessions leading to three-and-outs never gave the defense a chance to breathe against the Andrew Luck-led Indianapolis Colts.
Quarterback Andy Dalton will shoulder the blame again, but injuries and an anemic pass rush hamstrung this team.
Turning the page to the offseason, FOXSports.com looks at three issues the Bengals must address:
Deciding Marvin Lewis’ fate: The fact that Lewis’ 0-6 postseason record continues to dominate the conversation is concerning for Cincinnati. But don’t expect upheaval despite Lewis’ failures in the playoffs. In 12 seasons, Lewis has won 100 regular season games and three division titles, but most importantly has the backing of ownership. The bigger issue amongst the coaching staff is offensive coordinator Hue Jackson. Jackson, who reportedly has an interview set up with Buffalo Bills, served as the Raiders in head coach in 2011 and has become a hot name on the job market. The Bengals can’t afford to lose their offensive coordinator for the second straight season. It means too much to the development of Dalton.
Improving the pass rush: Both Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston and Texans defensive end J.J. Watt had more sacks individually this season than the entire Bengals’ defense. Cincinnati’s 20 regular-season sacks is the lowest amount in the Marvin Lewis era since 2007. While some of that loss in production can be pointed to defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s conservative scheme, creating a pass rush is always at a premium. With Wallace Gilberry and Carlos Dunlap combining for 9.5 sacks, the team has witnessed a two-year dropoff in that category. After experiencing an injury-riddled second season, there will certainly be big expectations for former second-round pick Margus Hunt. An addition to the front four could also be a good idea.
Upgrading the TE position: One of the most underrated losses of the season was when tight end Tyler Eifert was placed on the injured reserve with an ugly elbow injury. The second-year tight end provides Andy Dalton a reliable intermediate target. Despite tight end Jermaine Gresham’s emergence in the offense, the Bengals will more than likely allow him to hit the open market.