Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals Will Give Fans the Best Season in Years

J.P. WainscottContributor IJuly 31, 2011

CINCINNATI - DECEMBER 26: Jermaine Gresham #84 of the Cincinnati Bengals celebrates with Andrew Whitworth #77 and Anthony Collins #73 after scoring a touchdown during the NFL game against the San Diego Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals 34-20.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

I’m one of the few that chose to reinvest in Mike Brown’s Lil’ Football Team for the 2011 season. I renewed my season tickets for the third year in a row. You can call me a fool, idiot, moron and even more colorful names.

I know my money is supporting the worst, and I mean WORST, professional sports owner in the history of sport.

I just don’t care.

Bengals games give me an excuse to come into town, visit with family and friends and watch some pro football (the visiting team always looks professional). Thanks to Ickey, Boomer and Brooks, I’m hopelessly stuck with rooting for those tiger-striped helmets no matter how bad it gets.

Besides, the NFL revenue sharing system ensures Brown will remain the owner no matter how many empty seats fill his dad’s stadium. Staying away to put Brown out of business is not going to work. All your boycott can do is change his status from "Millionaire" to "millionaire."

But this year won’t be too bad. In fact, I think this will be the best Bengal-rooting season since 2005.

No T.O. No Ocho. No J-Jo. No Quit-O? No problem.

The Bengals won’t win a bunch of games, but they finally have a refreshing group of young guys that just might be fun to watch.

Think back to 2003. The Bengals had just drafted the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Carson Palmer. Chad Johnson was just coming off of his first 1,000-yard receiving season.

Marvin Lewis was the hottest coordinator on the market and brought a fresh, new attitude to Cincinnati from the Baltimore Ravens. (Note: All three have been worn to nubs of their former selves due to years under Brown, Supreme Chancellor of Suck.)

However, 2003 was a great year. No one expected them to make the playoffs, but we did expect to see an improvement over the 2-14 season in 2002. It’s easy to improve from 14 losses.

It was fun to sit back and see what the kids could do. They even managed to stay in the playoff race until the last week of the season.

The 2011 season is a lot like 2003. They’re sure to have a new QB, a young and tantalizing group of receivers led by rookie A.J. Green and a defense that has some young talent. Throw in a new, Bratkowski-free offensive scheme and you have a team that should at least be intriguing.

Rey Maualuga is taking over the middle linebacker spot and he is fun to watch run around whether he makes tackles or not. Carlos Dunlap racked up 9.5 sacks in limited starts last year, so he’s likely to throw a few more quarterbacks to the ground. Green and Jerome Simpson provide Big Red with some tall, speedy deep threats.

Did I mention Bob Bratkowski is no longer running the offense?

Additionally, the Bengals have one of the weakest schedules in years, which could somewhat mask their likely ineffective, new offense led by a rookie QB.

Maybe they’ll win seven games. Maybe they will only win two. If they do, then Andrew Luck will arrive in 2012 to breathe some life into the franchise—and then subsequently retire in his prime.  

For 2011, do as I do. Crack open a beer, lower your expectations and enjoy the show.

Take the year off from thinking they should have beaten the Steelers.

Let the 2012 season make you miserable again.