Madden Challenge: Cincinnati Bengals – Episode One – Preseason. We’re on to 2020

The goal: Win the Cincinnati Bengals the Super Bowl for the first time in their history

So you selected the Cincinnati Bengals for me to try and lead to glory, or more likely failure. It was a close run thing with the Bills coming very close.

The preseason had some success, but overall it was a disaster. More on that shortly.

I am sure we are all aware of the limitations on the Bengals roster. There is not a lot of depth throughout and we have a few stars, and unfortunately some ageing stars, but we will get on to that later.

Things got off to a tough start with a trip to Kansas City. It is the preseason but I wanted to see what we had from some of the young players. The two rookie running backs in particular. There are some spots open on this team and the chance for players to step up and make them their own.

Whisper it… BUT WE ARE HEADING TO MIAMI FOR THE SUPER BOWL!

Ok, I need to stay calm. But what a win. We went to Kansas City and we dominated. Rodney Anderson had just five carries, but converted them into two touchdowns. They got a late touchdown to get some points on the board but a 24-7 win was more than I could have expected.

Jeff Driskel wasn’t great and is an area we will be looking at. With an unreliable starter in Andy Dalton, having an unreliable back up is not ideal. We need to get a look at Ryan Finley over these next three games because I don’t think Jeff is going to be hanging around in Cincy.

Remember earlier when I mentioned we have a few stars. Well…

Of course. If we were going to do anything in 2019 then it was probably going to be on the back of Joe Mixon. The rookies performed well in the game but they can’t carry the load. There isn’t much out there that is worth signing. So even though we have won, this injury has completely changed things.

Which brings me to A.J. Green. He is getting older, doesn’t have long to run on his deal, and frankly we aren’t winning the Super Bowl this year. It is sad but I think it is perhaps time to move on and start the rebuild. Green has been added to the trade block to see what sort of value we can get. It is a shame but I think our goal will be reached quicker with the picks and/or players that he can bring in.

We got plenty of offers, and the Patriots had the best one. But we needed a little more from it. Green is a star, but he isn’t what we need right now. We pick up a 2021 first, and some deeper picks this year. We are rebuilding this team and now Tyler Boyd is the main man.

Week two and three of preseason might as well be grouped together. They were a disaster. Both games saw running backs leave the game with injuries. Rodney Anderson will miss the rest of preseason.

We lose to the Redskins 17-10, and it probably should have been more, and then Daniel Jones and the Giants tore the defence apart to crush us 24-7.

The defence just isn’t very good. There is so little there in terms of difference makers. We don’t have a single interception and can barely even get past a tackle, let alone get any sacks. It is something we really need to address but that is probably for next offseason.

There really isn’t much else to say about it. Driskel is gone. We signed Brian Hoyer after his release from the Patriots but I would still like to go with the rookie if possible. I do not want to tie up too much cash in this team so I looked to add a little depth. There isn’t much out there but Brandon Marshall comes in for the final week of presason. He is fairly cheap but it could well be a short stay in Cincinnati.

So we head to week four of preseason against the Colts. Another tough test. The goals for this week is once again see what we have with Trayveon Williams and find out if Ryan Finley can be the back up or if we need to sign somebody.

Here we go. A painfully familiar site – a running back laying on the ground hurt. It isn’t too serious, although he will miss the rest of the game, but I don’t know if Gio Bernard and a couple of rookies is going to be good enough. I need to sign somebody to at least share the load.

So we ended up losing 24-21, but I think we may have found something. A.J. Green leaving opens up a spot for somebody and Alex Erickson certainly put forward a case for him to be the WR3 behind Boyd and John Ross. Only three catches but he looked like he could go all the way on each of them. We are going to need these big plays this season.

Finley’s stats look a little better for those plays, but he just isn’t good enough. Hoyer will back up Dalton.

I have signed Spencer Ware but like Marshall, he probably isn’t going to be here for too long. Anderson showed enough to start the season as the RB2 and we will have to wait and see what we have in Williams, but that is the least of my worries.

Tyler Eifert made it through the preseason without a season-ending injury though so every cloud.

So the preseason ends at 1-3. It started so positively but it could not have gone much worse since that win in KC. We have lost Joe Mixon for half the season, we have traded away A.J. Green and we don’t have much talent on the defence. This is going to be a long season.

The 2020 draft can’t come soon enough. The shopping list is already looking like a quarterback, wide receiver or two, offensive line and a whole new defence. So should be easy.

Next week we host the Seahawks as we look to kick off the season with a bang. That win against the Chiefs feels like a distant memory right now…

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