The Cincinnati Bengals ended the 2009 campaign respectably and now are a team that needs to hold the line and improve upon an emerging team in 2010.
Here are some of the immediate key areas (assuming the Bengals are able to stay at the current "status quo"):
1. Tight End
The Bengals lost their top two options in Reggie Kelly and Ben Utecht early in the season.
The Bengals will need to see where Kelly is at when he returns for 2010 as well as develop a solid backup—likely to be J.P. Foschi and Chase Coffman. Daniel Coats' status remains to be seen.
2. Offensive Coordination and Offensive Line
The Bengals' one-dimensional offense showed in that the o-line had much success in opening up opportunities for the re- emergent Cedric Benson however did not protect Carson Palmer enough to allow the passing game to develop.
Top pick Andre Smith should start contributing solidly in his second year (without a contract hold-out and early injury) as long as his off season regimen is well tended to.
For the second year in a row, the passing game struggled—and the loss of Carson Palmer excuse from 2008 could not be used. The offensive coordination was non-existent—especially late in the season.
3. Passing Game
With the loss of Chris Henry and a solid tight end, along with poor protection for Carson Palmer, the Bengals have a lot of work to do. Quan Cosby is an up-and-coming receiver but lacks the height that Henry brought to the offense.
The defense was solid but will need to work on pass protection more. The return of Maualuga at linebacker should also help. The line may need some tweaking, but a solid unit has been put together.
Two field goals missed at pivotal points in the playoff game by Shayne Graham. Enough said.