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Three straight playoff appearances is a good thing.
Three straight playoff losses? Not so much.
The question is, what can the Cincinnati Bengals do this offseason to change that?
Well, first things first—they’ve had to replace both their offensive and defensive coordinators. Jay Gruden departed for a head coaching job with the Washington Redskins and has been replaced by Hue Jackson, former head coach of the Oakland Raiders.
Meanwhile, former defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer finally nabbed a head coaching job—in Minnesota with the Vikings—and linebackers coach Paul Guenther will replace him.
Not only does the team have to deal with coaching changes, it stands to potentially lose one of the best defensive ends in the game, Michael Johnson. Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer wrote this week that when the Bengals and Johnson couldn’t come to terms last season, they essentially gave his money to Carlos Dunlap.
Simply put, Dehner thinks the Bengals will not be able to match any offer Johnson gets, and barring placing the franchise tag on him again, he will leave.
While one can argue that losing a single player won’t kill this defense, losing one player and the defensive coordinator who did so much with sometimes marginal talent could prove an issue.
How the coordinators settle in and the solution Guenther comes up with to replace Johnson will be huge in determining how this offseason goes.
That, in turn, could be crucial to the long-term employment health of everyone involved.
Especially if the Bengals lose a fourth straight Wild Card Game.