As Organized Team Activities (OTAs) began in NFL cities around the country last week, it would be hard to find a fanbase that is quite as geeked up as Cincinnati’s.
Sure, the Giants are coming off an improbable Super Bowl run, the Packers have the pieces to be a veritable juggernaut and the Redskins added a slew of marginal wide receivers. Bengals fans, though, have as much of a right to celebrate the unofficial beginning of this 2012 offseason as anyone.
Fresh off a rebuilding-turned-surprise playoff season (and like 200 years of sloppy ineptitude before that), the Bengals faithful is riding a high into the 2012 season.
As division bullies in Baltimore and Pittsburgh age (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu) and/or get injured (Terrell Suggs, Phil Taylor), the Bengals welcome the first full offseason for their young, dynamic core. A team that won a surprising nine games and had what most media outlets considered to be the best draft in the league, Cincy just seems poised to unseat fools.
However, key positions look to be manned by youngsters, from quarterback (Andy Dalton) and wide receiver (A.J. Green), to strong safety (Taylor Mays) and middle linebacker (Rey Maualuga). Consistency has to be a question.
Just like every other playoff hopeful, the Bengals have questions to answer and holes to fill. And while the pads don’t come on until later in the summer, it’s not too early to speculate on how things will shake out at Paul Brown Stadium in 2012.
Here are the best/worst case scenarios for some of the Bengals’ most important issues.