Two postseason appearances, foundation of young players not only becoming productive members of the franchise, but viewed as some of the best at their respective positions. Though there are those with endless complains that could surpass the pages of a George R.R. Martin novel, let's face facts. It's a good time to be a Bengals fan.

Yet if Cincinnati could only take that next step.

"I think we're really close," Mike Zimmer told "NFL AM" on Tuesday while at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "The first year, we got thumped pretty good by Houston. This year was a lot closer. We're right there. But we're going to have to keep grinding and keep adding talent. We have a good nucleus of guys and I think we're exactly where we need to be."

Zimmer also supported the return of linebacker Rey Maualuga and hoped (obviously) that Cincinnati retains soon-to-be free agent defensive end Michael Johnson.