Cincinnati Bengals: A Total Makeover Is Coming
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As the Cincinnati Bengals close in on football futility, the Bengals' fan base considers what may be a completely different team next season. Expected by most is a mass exodus of all the key players and personnel that are only the beginning of healing the Bengals from their collective weaknesses.
One only needs to turn on the local mainstay radio station — 700 WLW — post-game and join radio personality Ken Broo for the show "Bengals' Group Therapy," to understand the angst of the Bengals' loyal followers.
What is even more disheartening is listening to the content as Dave Lapham — the voice of the Bengals — called in to confirm that Carson Palmer is not even allowed to call a timeout on his own (and therefore cement the loss that should have been a win. An honorable mention goes to the first third-year rookie-like player Pat Sims of the defensive line, who helped the Saints into the end zone on a fourth and two with less than a minute to go).
So with the lack of cohesion that can only be attributed to a lack of discipline, here are your big name departures that should depart after the 2010 debacle.
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Going into free agency after being paid low amounts behind a pathetic offensive line which has not had the luck it had a year prior in opening holes, Benson will be commanding much interest at least at the $6 to $10 million range.
Being criticized this season as not having the hands of old, the run blocking has been pathetic to compliment the play calling. Benson has tried to force the issue several times, but with everybody missing assignments, it is hard to tell who is at fault.
Say it ain't so TO...
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TO came in a reformed man to a team he believed had re-formed to make a Super Bowl run. Following Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco to the promised land turned out to be a waste land. TO hinted at wanting another season with Carson — but Carson would have to be wanted for TO to stick around...
Bob Bratkowski (Offensive Coordinator)
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Bob Bratkowski has been the most uninspiring, single-minded, and uncreative offensive coordinator to grace the great game of football in many years. Even the bad Bengals teams had an air attack of some potency, yet Bob has effectively nullified the offense as a productive unit and has solidified a predictable strategy for a vast majority of the season.
Ten years too many, the question about Bob that comes to all fans both inside and outside of Paul Brown stadium is, "What about Bob?"
The Ocho No Show
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The aspiring marketing mogul who is searching to be the heart and sole of the body known as the Bengals has a $6 million option hanging over his head which Mike Brown will need to decide if he wants to exercise. Chances are that Brown will take the Ocho back as Mike will have to pay Chad $3.5 million if he chooses to opt-out.
Nevertheless, Ochocinco has hinted at retirement and could find a cheap Mike Brown very receptive to this notion.
Carson The Cardiac QB
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We did not deserve Carson.... Palmer should have been great and would have been great had he been under Paul Brown and the motivated coaching of Sam Wyche. Yet as the clock strikes midnight on the 2010 season (two months early in Bengalville), Carson is looking shattered psychologically and physically under the flat offensive schemes of Bob Bratkowski and Marvin Lewis' defensive mind.
Now with $49 million remaining on four years of Carson's contract (with a $9 million third-year, yes — 2011 — option) Palmer would be up for a $20.5 million collection at the end of 2011. The peak year of Palmer's contract when he is going down slope
Mike Zimmer (Defensive Coordinator)
Zimmer the Great
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Many fans want to see Zimmer as the next head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. A Bill Parcells' prodigy, Zimmer certainly has worked under some of the finest and has shown the emotional fortitude to lead by example. Guts and glory are Zimmer's calling card but with a defensive unit lacking motivation and no longer leading the team but following the train wreck off the tracks, Zimmer appears to be as helpless and lacking motivation as much as the current head coach. Mike Brown would probably offer him the job but the question is if Zim would actually take it.
Marvin Lewis (Head Coach)
Starvin' Marvin the Martian
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From the Associated Press' Coach of the Year in 2009 to Chump of the Year in 2010, Marvin has shown that he has no dimensions, no control, and no motivation to lead the Bengals in his final contract year. Is it his fault? Absolutely not. He came in expecting to be able to control the Bengals and reform the team. This seemed to be the direction the Bengals were going to go and success seemed to be following but then on a faithful day prior to the 2008 season Mike Brown (Owner and team President) undermined Marvin and re-signed Chris Henry. Possibly because of injuries to the receiving core but because Brown had to start taking back control, Lewis limped through another self-imploding season in '08.
2009 brought a Bengals team motivated by a Hard Knocks appearance then finding tragedy to bond together in mutual support with the sudden death of Mike Zimmer's wife. Followed by the un-timely demise of Chris Henry, the team was emotionally spent and the unproductive offense was masked by a defense with purpose.
Lewis' weaknesses were covered up in 2009, but 2010 has exposed his lack of being able to make or want to make a decision under pressure. Lacking clock management skills and trust in his play calling leader (Palmer is not allowed to call timeouts), Lewis has been exposed for bumbling.
Certainly it would be hard to be motivated coming into your final year — right after receiving Coach of the Year — and not getting the extension with the terms desired. So much for vindication...
The Owners: The Brown Family's Inheritance Is Cincinnati's Inherited Curse
Mike Brown and Kate Blackburn (Heir Apparent)
Mike Brown (President and de-facto General Manager), Pete Brown (Senior Vice President of Player Personnel and Mike's brother); Kate Blackburn (Executive Vice President and daughter of Mike); Paul Brown (Vice President - Player Personnel);Troy Blackburn (Vice President, Kate's husband, and Mike's Son-In-Law); and plenty of other suspected family members saturate the unqualified hierarchy Bengals corporate structure — also known as the Bengals' ownership.
This is nepotism at it's finest, with the purse strings and profits of the Bengals being stripped down to the barest to field a stellar stable of colts on the field but with a vast wasteland of nothing behind it.
The Browns and the remaining founders/investors are laughing all the way to the bank as they see no reason to represent the interest of the city whose name they have turned from an honor to a hijacking. The city and the common, working class of the Queen City means nothing to this country club crowd running the milk farm for us lemmings which refuse to let go.
Zane Daniel's recap of 'Mike Brown's Testimony' in the Dutch Knowlton estate lawsuit says it all.
Later, Hamilton County (in which Cincinnati is located) sued the National Football League for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust act after it was revealed that the Bengals had basically withheld information and led the county to believe that the team was struggling financially — which facts would later show was not the case.
As quoted from the Knowlton case in an April 2009 Cincinnati Enquirer article ("Court Case Reveals Bengals' Millions," by Kimball Perry), in which an accountant Edward Vonderbrink revealed the following as quoted in the aforementioned article:
"Among details of the team’s finances that emerged from the case is that from 1994 to 2000 – as Brown campaigned for and got a new publicly funded stadium to remain solvent and stay in Cincinnati – the team paid Brown and his family in excess of $50 million."
"Mike Brown received millions in “general manager” bonuses, even though the team has no such title."
"VonderBrink testified the team paid a “general manager” bonus of $1,237,000 in 1999 and $1,947,695 in 2001. Brown testified in the trial he received a bonus every year since he took over running the team in 1991."
"The $48 million paid to the Brown family came as the team also paid five Brown family members annual average salaries of more than $700,000, court documents note. The family members in addition to Mike Brown are: Brown’s brother, Pete Brown; Brown’s son, Paul Brown; Brown’s daughter, Katie Blackburn; and her husband, Troy Blackburn."
"Those five family members, VonderBrink testified, were paid combined salaries of $3,926,000 in 1999 – an average salary of $785,200 – and $3,613,000 in 2001, an average salary of $722,600."
The County later sued the NFL to try to recover damages, but thanks to an equally inept local government, the expiration date had passed for the county to sue for damages (four years after the deal was made).
Shame on Mike Brown for tarnishing his father's memory and teaching his children that taking advantage of the public makes for good business.
For more, see the following links:
WARNING: The following documents may contain enough information to turn you off to the Bengals forever:
The Verdict: Hire a GM Or Sell The Team
Bengals Saints - My View on December 5th 2010
Maybe the Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals can learn something from the Art Modell and Cleveland Browns situation.
As sad as it is, maybe the best thing happened to Cleveland when Art Modell left for Baltimore. Both Cleveland and Art needed a fresh start. True, the Ravens turned into a successful franchise quite quickly while the Browns are showing life only this season. Yet, the one thing the Lerners (Browns' majority owner) learned was to find an expert to be the team's general manager. With Mike Holmgren at the helm for this off-season and the 2010 season, the Browns are starting to emerge and look as if there is a long and fruitful venture in the works.
The Brown family was all about Paul Brown. The legend whose name still adorns the Cleveland franchises' team single-handly made the Bengals and then handed the team over to a very capable business man in his son — Mike. Problem is, Mike forgot that his team is part of the heart and soul of Cincinnati, not a public institution made to simply rape the tax-paying citizens of Hamilton County of their hard-earned money. Draining the life out of this hard working town has to stop after 2010.
The team needs a real scouting staff (your son and brother are not cutting it in the "Player Personnel" department); a bubble; and most of all — Y-O-U N-E-E-D A G-E-N-E-R-A-L M-A-N-A-G-E-R! A person with the authority and experience to lead the Bengals back to the promised land, the land the present ownership cannot go — the land of the legendary Paul Brown.