The 2008 Bengals started the season by dropping their first eight games, on pace to becoming the worst team in franchise history.
They would rally to go 4-3-1 over the second half of the year though and avoided the dubious honor of having the worst season in the team’s lowly history.
Let’s take a look at the five teams that did worst than last year’s edition of the Bengals. Of note, four of the five have come with Mike Brown owning the team.
Head coach: Dick LeBeau
This team started 0-7, but they were able to go into Houston and win their eighth game against the then expansion Texans.
Only four teams in the NFL scored fewer points than the Bengals and no team in the league yielded more points.
Jon Kitna started 12 of the team’s 16 games that season as proved a more capable option than the team’s other options Gus Frerotte and Akili Smith.
Corey Dillon and Chad Johnson both were members of the 1000-yard club.
The defense lacked playmakers though, particularly in the secondary that may have been amongst the worst in franchise history.
Head coach: Dave Shula
The ‘93 version of the Bengals started 0-10 before going 3-3 down the stretch.
The David Klinger era began behind one of the worst of the offensive lines in league history. The second-year quarterback was sacked an amazing 40 times in 13 starts (three times per game).
The running game wasn’t much better as starting running back Harold Green totaled just 589 yards on 2.7 yards per carry and failed to score a TD.
The offense was dead last in scoring and the defense wasn’t much better as the unit gave up nearly 19.7 points per game.
Rookie defensive end John Copeland was a bust and veterans cornerback Rod “Toast” Jones earned his nickname on weekly basis, getting burned over and over again.
Head coach: Bruce Coslett
A 2-3 start wasn’t terrible, but a seven-game losing streak would set in and doom the franchise once again.
Bengals’ fans were starting to drink the ‘Bruce Juice’ after a 7-9 finish the year before, but after Boomer Esiason called it quits the team turned to Neil O’Donnell.
The veteran wasn’t terrible, but the team once again struggled to score (27th out of 30) and stop the opponent from scoring (30th).
Rookies Takeo Spikes and Brian Simmons gave hope for the future on defense, but the secondary continued to be the team’s Achilles’ heel.
Head coach: Sam Wyche
Team owner Paul Brown passed away prior to the start of the season, officially beginning the Mike Brown Era.
The team dropped its first eight games and 11 of its first 12 as the wheels began to fall off of the franchise, setting it in a tailspin that it would still be trying to climb out of nearly two decades later.
Just three years removed from a 12-4 Super Bowl season, things were getting ugly quickly in the Queen City.
Boomer Esiason struggled under constant pressure.
James Brooks gave way to a younger Harold Green and Ickey Woods blew out his knee once again and the shuffling would come to an end.
The team got outscored on the year by 172 points (10.8 ppg) and had a -11 give-away/take-away ratio.
Brown would fire Wyche on Christmas Eve in his first of many questionable moves.
Head coach: Homer Rice
It’s hard to imagine what might have happen with the franchise had Paul Brown promoted Bill Walsh to the post when he stepped down after the ‘75 season rather than him naming Bill Johnson the head coach.
Homer Rice took over for Johnson in the ‘78 season and was able to keep the job after a hot finish.
Rice, however, could not carry over the success. The Bengals started 0-6 and the defense gave up more points than any other unit the league.
Fullback Pete Johnson did manage 15 touchdowns and rookies Max Montoya and Dan Ross showed some potential.
The team fired Rice after the season, naming Forrest Gregg as their head coach.