The Cincinnati Bengals are at a crossroad. In 2005 they were a team with a lot of upside. They went 11-5 and were the talk of most analysts as being the next great team.
Unfortunately for the Bengals and their fans, things didn’t go as planned. Now in 2009 the Bengals can either continue losing and become the cellar-dweller-joke-of-the-league as they were for the 1990s and early 2000s, or they can rise back into national prominence.
Do great coaches make great players, or the other way around? That is a classic argument that will continue to be argued long after I am around. Here is my list of the Bengals four most important coaches for the upcoming season.
1) Marvin Lewis - It all starts with the head coach. He sets the attitude for the team and gives them a direction. Lewis came to the Bengals with a no-nonsense attitude. Lately some people have wondered if Lewis has lost that edge. If the Bengals want to be successful, Lewis needs to let all the players know who is in charge and not let attitudes (cough Chad Ocho Cinco cough) get in the way of the success of the team. Lewis is going into his seventh season as coach. His career record is 46-49-1. My guess is if the Bengals fail to reach the playoffs, he will be fired.
2) Mike Zimme r- Going into his second season as defensive coordinator. Zimmer drastically transformed the defense last year as they finished 12 overall in defense, much improved from 27 in 2007. Zimmer also helped bring in Tank Williams and Roy Williams both of whom played for Zimmer in Dallas. Look for the Bengals defense to be just as good if not better.
3) Chip Morton - WHO? You might be asking this. Morton is going into his seventh season as Bengals strength and conditioning coach. He is the third most important coach on the team because the Bengals were one injury away from going downtown Cincinnati and signing homeless men up to play on the team.
Not sure if the players are soft or if Morton’s strength plan isn’t working but one thing is for sure, the Bengals can’t afford to have so many injuries next season. If they are banged up again all season long, look for the Bengals to replace Morton.
4) Bob Bratkowski - Bratkowski is going into his ninth season as offensive coordinator. He has seen the highs and the lows. Bratkowski is a good play caller, as proved by the high flying offenses the Bengals had a few years ago. Fans can’t blame him for last year’s horrid offense. The greatest offensive minds in the history of the game couldn’t have called plays successfully for a team quarterbacked by Ryan Fitzpatrick with no offensive line. If the Bengals line is successful look for Bratkowski to have the Bengals offense high flying once again.
These are the four men who are most important to the Bengals success on the coaching side. If the Bengals have another bad year, don't be surprised to see three of the four not return.