Originally written on WhoDeyFans  |  Last updated 1/7/13
The unholy stinkfest played by the Bengals’ offense in Houston on Saturday has turned Bengals fans into a far less endearing version of Bob Wiley from one of my favorite comedies, What About Bob: neurotic and intensely needy. Yes, the performance by Gruden’s crew was about as appetizing as a persimmon-flavored sucker chased by a stick of the dirt-flavored gum you passed off on one of your friends when you were 9 years old. This team clearly isn’t where it needs to be yet on offense, and questions aplenty to address as we consider free agency and the draft. But balance is a healthy thing. Perhaps this is a bit early, but as that 17th roll of antacids finally calms your stomach, remind yourself that this team did see some baby steps in growth in 2012. It might not have been quite as much growth as we hoped for, but growth is still movement in the right direction. Double digit wins. Four months ago, most of the football brain trust expected the Bengals to take a step backward and was picking the Bengals to go 7-9 or 8-8 this year. Instead, they turned in their third double-digit win season in the past 8 years. This was made possible largely by a defense that became one of the stingiest in the league over the second half of the season. Dominating defense. It is fair to wonder if the return of Pat Sims didn’t spark this unit’s turn-around. Once they got going, they implemented a scorched earth policy that would have made General Sherman proud. Keeping the group together will begin costing money this year, but it ought to be money that the front office is glad to spend. Youth. Most of the playmakers on this team are still in their rookie contracts. The problem of paying the difference-makers and letting the good-but-replaceable guys walk is far preferable to the problem of overpaying an aging roster while trying to retain young talent, such as is facing the Steelers again this year. Resilience. This team didn’t give up on themselves when we were ready to fold the tents on the season at the end of October. Bengals teams in years past would have imploded upon reaching the 3-5 mark. More than a couple of teams this year did. That this team could fight its way back and make the playoffs at all is a huge departure from the past. All of these are baby steps forward for a franchise that is steadily moving away from the Lost Decade. Again, there is plenty to dissect over what went wrong this season, and I (along with everyone else) will have plenty to say about it in the coming months. The team is not at all there yet, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t making progress. We need to recognize the good as well as the bad.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Giants GM confirms he has spoken with Jason Pierre-Paul

Sam Bradford on target to start season opener for Eagles

NFL official: Footballs known to have leaks 'right out of the box'

Bills suspend assistant coach for first six games of 2015

Trent Richardson has 50-50 chance at making Raiders roster

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Rex Ryan takes subtle jabs at Jets' upper management

Everett Golson responds to Paul Finebaum's criticism

Mark Sanchez says it ‘crazy’ to call Chip Kelly racist

Malcolm Butler daring Brady to throw his way in practice

Geno Smith confident worst is behind him and the Jets

Ronda Rousey knocks out Bethe Correia in 34 seconds

July's best and worst players in Major League Baseball

Why TCU and Baylor will again dominate the Big 12

WATCH: Dez Bryant throws punches at training camp

There's no need for Notre Dame to join a conference

WATCH: Benches clear during Royals-Blue Jays game

Jim Harbaugh gives Nicki Minaj a shoutout on Twitter

The Kardashian sisters still call Caitlyn Jenner 'Bruce'

Tennessee fan recreates Neyland Stadium in backyard

Lolo Jones: I could last at least a minute against Rousey

Bears have very strict rules for media during training camp

Jamaal Charles: I feel like I'm the LeBron James of football

Ronda Rousey: I'll fight Cyborg if she stops taking steroids

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Notre Dame doesn't need a conference

Rex takes jabs at Jets' management

Sanchez: It's 'crazy' to call Chip racist

Ronda Rousey calls out Cyborg

Five most underrated players in the NFL

Five potential NFL salary cap casualties this preseason

Winners and losers of the 2015 MLB trade deadline

Pirates do Pirates at deadline: Neat little moves

Mets acquire Cespedes from Tigers

Ranking the NFL’s 32 head coaches

Five worst baseball trades since 2000

Examining the state of the NFL

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker