There are a lot of reasons to dismiss the Cincinnati Bengals after what can only be described as an extremely difficult start 2-4 start. However, with all that we know now compared to what we thought before the season began, I urge the Cincinnati Bengals fans to support your team and believe that there is strong enough locker-room leadership to still turn things around.
It is not fair of me to place blame on other fans, when I myself am guilty of lapses of faith. The past several weeks, I have grimaced as we squandered opportunities against teams (Browns, Tampa) that are still presumably a “few years away.”
I was disappointed in the losses after watching both of those games, as there was never a moment of fear or doubt that we wouldn’t win as we were the dominant team, but couldn’t seem to not repeatedly shoot ourselves in the foot.
Anyway, during the Browns game, I yelled at the TV (I live out of state or else I would be at the game) for us to "finish them,” as if we were in some movie. During the Tampa Bay game, I said out loud that I have ignored everything the media said about Carson and the team for years and I have been more than loyal and I pleaded with Carson to be loyal back.
Some might think I am crazy, and maybe there is some truth to that, as it is not logical to feel so much for something without really knowing a single individual on the team. After the Browns and Tampa losses, the doubt started creeping in heavily that maybe the Bengals are who the media say or maybe we will always have that “Bo Jackson” jinx.
I even took my Carson Palmer bobble head and framed picture from my “Bengals” wall and put them into my closet with the Shayne Graham and TJ Bobble heads.
Upon doing that, I realized how silly I was being and how I was letting the naysayers win by buying in to their “NON-REVOLUTIONARY” thoughts and negative words of “Bengals wisdom.”
I also thought about how I would feel if I was Carson Palmer and I received “Boos” walking off the same field (Buccaneers Game), which he has remained throughout his pro career. Or how the team felt in regards to the struggles to sellout a stadium during all of the 2009 year, which resulted in a division sweep compiled of arguably the best teams in the NFL.
Or even the continued lack of support by fans this year, after our team finally made some moves in the off season to improve, which is best demonstrated by the looming “blackout” with each and every home game minus the home Steelers game, which is unfortunately usually showered with a fair share of yellow/black in the stands.
During the Atlanta game, I knew the Falcons were good before and they showed up to outplay the Bengals today, but I liked the emotion from the Bengals and I liked the resiliency when they faced such a big hole, which had broadcasters using words like “rout before the close of the first half. Roddy White and Turner were great, and they came up with big plays at the end of the game.
However, I didn’t think that the Bengals couldn’t come back, as they were united and driven and forceful throughout the second half. For the first time this year, I think I saw Marvin Lewis boil over with passion while imploring his team to “keep going.”
It’s unfortunate that the Bengals keep allowing themselves to dig a hole before “waking up” and participating in the games, as it is the difference between a 1 loss team vs. a four-loss team.
In regards to Andre Smith’s play, the words “growing pains” comes to mind. He is going to be okay, and needs the playing time to have any shot of becoming the NFL tackle worth a first round pick. I am encouraged by the fact that Willie A. is helping him, as there is no better example than Anderson in regards to how the tackle position is successfully played.
Going forward, if the Bengals want to win a championship, then they will have to figure out how to beat the really good teams, as the schedule doesn’t get easier from here.
I think sometimes as a fan, we set all or nothing expectations, and by doing so, we set ourselves up to fail. This year there is more parity than I have ever seen in the NFL, and I would have laughed at the person who told me preseason that the Chargers, Bengals and Cowboys would have a combined five wins at this point.
With that being said, I am learning that regardless of the reason, the Bengals are going to win or lose based upon what they bring to the table each and every Sunday and not because of some dramatic reason which the media or fans have thought up in their head. A great example of the media distorting the truth was displayed a few weeks back, as a result of the T.O./Irvin interview.
I watched the Irvin interview with T.O. pregame, and I thought his answers were appropriate. However, I grimaced later when I realized the way the media twisted his words, and I laugh that the media waited until after the loss to the Bucs for the T.O. comment “T.O is not happy and is working for free” to display on the ticker for the remainder of the evening.
Point being, nobody picked us to do anything in the media last year, and it was like gritting teeth to get them to admit any of their prediction failures or mistakes. I expect that trend to continue, as it’s not socially acceptable to root for the Cincinnati Bengals, as they are after all, only a group of outcasts and misfits.
In conclusion, the smartest man in history said that if you love something then you stay loyal to it, no matter the cost. It is not difficult to jump on the “haters” bandwagon, nor is it hard to be a Patriots or Colts fan most days, and it is fair to say that one must be very resilient to sometimes survive the challenge of being a Bengals fan.
This year, I am still hopeful that the Cincinnati Bengals have a shot, but more than anything, I hope our Bengals organization knows that there are still many believers among the critics.