It was a tumultuous year from start to finish as the Bengals posted a 7-9 record, dropping from the postseason picture after going 19-6 over the previous two regular seasons. In January, the new United States Football League announced that it would begin play in the spring of 1984, and the USFL roiled the '83 off-season by pursuing contracts with NFL players and coaches, including a number of Bengals. G Dave Lapham and TE Dan Ross signed "future contracts" with the new league for 1984, and they would indeed go there, but they played out their Bengals contracts for Cincinnati in '83. The biggest stunner to Cincinnati fans came June 27, when star WR Cris Collinsworth signed a future contract to begin in 1985 with the USFL Tampa Bay Bandits. But over an extended period of angst in Bengals Nation, extending into February 1985, Collinsworth and Bandits owner John Bassett never fully consummated their deal. Collinsworth wound up playing his full pro football career (through 1988) with the Bengals. In July, offensive coordinator Lindy Infante signed a future deal as head coach of the USFL Jacksonville Bulls, and rather than let him coach in Cincinnati under his '83 contract, the Bengals fired him for breach of contract. On June 2, once highly-touted QB Jack Thompson was traded to the Tampa Bay Bucs for a 1984 first-round draft choice. On July 26, Bengals DE Ross Browner and FB Pete Johnson were among the first four NFL players ever suspended by the NFL for illegal drug activity. They missed all of training camp and Games 1-4 of the regular season. The team lost six of its first seven games, and in Game 6, a Monday night Riverfront Stadium visit by Pittsburgh, Steelers DE Keith Gary inflicted a severe neck sprain on QB Ken Anderson, bringing him down with a visually sickening twist of the face mask. Though Gary would in the end be only fined by the NFL (not suspended), the play proved to be key in raising NFL awareness that QBs were often in vulnerable positions and needed more rules protection. "It's fortunate (the play) was on national television," said Paul Brown. "Maybe now it won't be repeated." Anderson missed the next three games. On Nov. 20 vs. Houston, an obscure rookie drafted in the 10th round made his first NFL start, as an injury replacement. The player was Tim Krumrie, who would take over as full-time starter the next season and become one of the best defensive linemen and most admired players in franchise history. The Bengals rallied to finish 6-3 over their last nine games, and coach Forrest Gregg was under contract through 1984. But on Dec. 24, Gregg resigned with the team's blessing to take the head coaching job in Green Bay, where he had played his way into the Hall of Fame as an offensive tackle. On Dec. 29, the Bengals replaced Gregg with Indiana University head coach Sam Wyche, a former Bengals QB who five years later would join Gregg as the only other Bengal coach to take the team to the Super Bowl. Despite their disappointing season, the Bengals led the NFL in total defense under Gregg and coordinator Hank Bullough, allowing only 270.4 yards per game. The performance stands through 2017 as the club's only No. 1 defensive ranking.