With the Bengals mired in a two win, seven loss season it would be hard to justify what is a good reason to cheer for a team consumed by a lack of the basic qualities that are attributed to a winner.
Shortly before the present season, Mike Brown made an admirable effort to assuage Bengals' fan's fears that his only motivation is to make his family money (in as much a Hamilton County lawsuit revealed that Brown had taken revenue sharing to mean that being GM would give him the unilateral ability to make more money than most of his players would ever see). Antonio Bryant came in with a questionable knee — which apparently lacked those basic qualities that makes a knee an anatomically-sound knee. Adam 'Pacman' Jones joined the team — still one of the best choices of the off-season for any NFL team and Mike Nugent came on with a fifty-plus yard cannon producing leg.
Forward to the present time period and we all wonder, what was the goal with the Bengals? Simple, fill the gaps and win a Super Bowl. That was the problem: gaps can be filled but when you only fill gaps, nothing else improves.
The Bengals had a good defense last year, not a great defense, but a schedule-friendly defense which was able to tow the line into week 17. Trust me, if you would have been sitting there on week 17 in the old Meadowlands Stadium (i.e. Giants' Stadium) you would have been as afraid as I was. Even for a gimme, the backups looked backwards to a decent college level program. Week 18 (wild-card) spelled disaster and the season ended — but not because of the defense.
The offense was the cause of 2009 and is the cause of 2010. Andre Smith is like a bad first date. He screwed up the first impression and has more problems trying to redeem himself not because of his actual ability but because when you look like Jared from Subway and then look like Kirstey Alley from the TV show Cheers (Rebbecca Howe to some of you) and Jenny Craig, it is hardly an improvement and you start to wonder. Sure, Smith probably sat on his rear-end on his couch — no less laden with Twinkies — for his 'rehab' but without a proper general manager and off-season training program, could you blame a 21 to 22 year old who just discovered that he can drink legally? (After Odell Thurman it has become a known fact that Cincinnati does not care about their celebrities after they play). Maybe Bengals' fans should be thankful that Smith loves food more than the vices of drugs and alcohol, because the support system available to newly anointed millionaires with — generally — degrees worth less than the paper they are printed on, have little to no support beyond Forrest Gump's 'Run Forrest Run' mantra.
The defense here is not Ray Lewis' Ravens that won the Super Bowl (and what we thought would compensate for the Bengals' offensive issues (a statement meant more than one way) — after all, nobody actually circumstantially killed anybody to the point that the Ravens' other defensive team members were likely more scared of Ray's talent and perceived proclivity for guns to win a Super Bowl on a kicker that made Shayne Graham look like the second coming. The problem is the offensive, the offensive line, and an outside contender is the defensive line.
Carson Palmer is a talented physical specimen. He could have been Eli Manning, Steve Young, or any other almost legendary quarterback up until this season. Now, he is a burned-out, worn-out NFL quarterback that is like that guy in accounting that wants to be fired. Motivation is the biggest and least of Carson's issues. Only the Bengals (i.e. Mike Brown) could turn a starter into a backup quarterback. Brown did it to Boomer Esiason and he has officially done it to Carson. If you are going to end up being pummeled every week (look at the last three plays against Indianapolis alone for Carson) then your quarterback is going to be not only gun-shy but just...well...shy. Carson was injured on a freak injury in THAT playoff game years ago. The Giant game two seasons ago was the product of the current line and this lack of confidence this year resembles a repeat of the past two seasons (this year, the mask is off the defense because the other team can usually score more than 24 points per game regardless of the opponent).
I thought — being a young father myself of twins like Carson no less — that Palmer had lost his football mojo to real life. Sadly, he has lost his motivation to the Cincinnati Bengals. USC would have protected Carson, Mike Brown wants to protect Carson but only wants to solve the three most glaring problems or perfect the three most glaring problems to the public media.
What is Brown's issue? He believes he has something to prove to the ghost of his father — Paul Brown. We all live in the shadow of our predecessors. I wish I could say I am better than those that came before me but when I look around myself, I wonder what I have really contributed. Mike is in too deep. His daughter, his son, and a myriad of other children, in-laws, and possibly cousins feed from the trough of Hamilton County's tax dollars and lemming fans (myself included) who pay for tickets to help justify the Prozac prescriptions (or Zoloft depending on your chemistry.... just joking...) that our doctors write. He means well, he wants success, and yes, he really wants to make money and support his family. Mike Brown is the PERFECT example of the broken revenue sharing system which sadly is better than the free-for-all system of baseball. Brown, though, has found a way around the system by being an inept family business.
So what is the solution: balance. Paul Brown was a coach and this is why he understood this. Balancing acts are the key to sports. Why are the Colts, Patriots, and Steelers always in the mix or close to the top — balance. Improving every place and not simply addressing weaknesses is the goal. Oh, Mike, stop looking for the deal. Keep hiring ex-criminals because this is America and everyone deserves a second chance in our society but PLEASE stop drafting the diamond in the rough in the first round! Take a chance in the third or fourth round of the draft. So far, I think you are too confused to actually look at Bengals' fans as your paycheck (though that Hamilton County lawsuit makes me wonder if you might be the biggest thief to own a professional franchise, and if so, your father would slap you clean across the face for that). Mike, prove that you are not simply an investor. Cincinnati, Ohio needs more than an 'aww shucks' owner.
Bengals' fans get ready: as much as I will likely vomit after this statement — the Browns are going to be the better team very shortly and the days of Bernie Kosar's dominance over Cincinnati are going to return with a Longhorn called McCoy.