Cincinnati Bengals: 5 players who must improve

Cincinnati Bengals, NFL Offseason

Marvin Lewis’ team has posted two straight losing seasons after five straight playoff appearances. So which five Cincinnati Bengals need to improve in 2018?

It’s a team that gets more attention for what it hasn’t done than what it has. And after two consecutive losing seasons, there are those looking for the Cincinnati Bengals to make some major changes – in particular at the top.

While it looked shaky late last season, the fact remains that Marvin Lewis is preparing for his 16th season in the Queen City. Only New England’s Bill Belichick has been at the helm of the same team longer these days. But the club is now reeling a bit after finishing 6-9-1 in 2016 and 7-9 a year ago. This after the Bengals had made a franchise-record five straight trips to the postseason.

Of course, each of those playoff tilts ended in defeat. The franchise hasn’t won a postseason contest since 1990 – the longest current drought of that nature in the NFL.

Still, after a 0-3 start in ’17, the club won seven of its final 13 games. They closed the year by eliminating first the Detroit Lions and then the Baltimore Ravens from the playoffs. That’s all well and good. But which five players need to be better this season if Lewis’ club is return to the playoff party?

5. John Ross

When you are the ninth overall pick in the NFL draft and you finish your rookie campaign with zero receptions, there will be questions. All told, it proved to be a lost 2017 for Bengals’ wide receiver John Ross. But the former University of Washington blur is determined to change all that.

“Last year I let everything get to me.” said the young performer to Geoff Hobson of “I let my injury get to me. I was trying to do more than I could. I was out of shape. I’m not trying to make excuses, but its real life things. You can’t just come in the NFL and be that guy. You have to come in and prepare. I’ve learned that. It’s growth and progression from here on.”

Progress is essential. Ross played in only three games and had more fumbles (1) than catches. And he’s not the first rookie receiver to fall on his face, hence he’s not a little further down on the list. Yes, anything would be better than what we saw from him in ’17. But anything needs to be pretty significant.

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