It is a lousy day to be a Bengals fan. The Bengals disappointed the hometown crowd again on Sunday losing their rival the Cleveland Browns 20-12. The Bengals fall to 0-4 and it appears the season is already over.
I don't believe I have ever felt more disappointed after a Bengals loss than how I felt yesterday, and that is saying something.
I am so disappointed that I honestly don't think I can write a recap on what happened yesterday, so instead I am going to look at the future of this franchise and what I believe needs to be done to turn this around.
1. Fire Marvin Lewis
Marvin Lewis was hired as head coach in 2003, taking over for Dick LeBeau that went 2-14 the previous season. The hiring of Marvin Lewis brought new hope to the city of Cincinnati. He lead the Bengals to an 8-8 record in his first season at the helm.
Two seasons later the Bengals claimed the AFC North title and made its first playoff appearance in 15 years, the first in owner Mike Brown's tenure as owner of the Bengals.
Since the Bengals playoff appearance in 2005, things have dramatically changed for Marvin Lewis and the overall state of the franchise. There has been NUMEROUS players arrested for off the field issues, poor draft picks and turmoil in the locker room.
There is absolutely NO sense of accountability and Marvin Lewis has lost this team. If Mike Brown is serious about winning, which has yet to be seen, he should start by firing Marvin Lewis.
Although I appreciate the fact that Marvin Lewis has brought this team back to respectability, it appears he taken the Bengals as far as he can.
2. Hire a General Manager
During the offseason the Bengals attempted to acquire Lions DT Shaun Rodgers and Jets DT Dwayne Robertson to sure up the struggling defensive line, however, neither player was signed to a contract heading into the season.
Though it appeared the deal for Shaun Rodgers was complete, the NFL rejected the deal due to some issues with the contract. Rodgers later signed a contract with division rival Cleveland Browns.
It is obvious the Bengals are in DESPERATE need of a GM. The Bengals and the Oakland Raiders, with a combined record of 1-7, are the only two teams in the NFL that currently don't have a General Manager on the payroll.
On top of that, the Bengals have one of the smallest college scouting departments in the NFL and have made some questionable personnel moves in recent years.
The most questionable move came a few years ago when the Bengals decided to put the franchise tag on DE Justin Smith, re-signed the aging Willie Anderson and decided to let G Eric Steinbach walk.
Since then, Justin Smith signed with the 49ers in the offseason, Willie Anderson was cut and Eric Steinbach continues to play at a Pro Bowl level with the Browns. If I were General Manager, Eric Steinbach would still be in Cincinnati and both Justin Smith and Willie Anderson would have either been traded or released.
3. Fire Bob Bratkowski
The is absolutely NO excuse for the way this offense has performed up to this point. With a Pro Bowl QB and two Pro Bowl WRs there is NO reason why this team should be 31st in the league in total offense. NO EXCUSE!
The offense has been predictable, conservative and it isn't playing to its strength, the passing game.
I am aware of the theory that the running game opens up the passing game, but does it? With Carson Palmer, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chad Johnson, Chris Henry and Ben Utecht, do the Bengals REALLY need to establish a running game to set up the pass or is it the other way around?
Do you think teams line up thinking to themselves "We need to contain Chris Perry?" NO! Teams line up scared to death that Chad, T.J. and Chris will make them look foolish, in return, opening up the run. Why aren't the Bengals doing what made them one of the most feared offenses in the NFL for the last 4 years?
If the problem is up front with the offensive line, then address the problem. Don't completely change your entire offensive philosophy because you line can't give Carson enough time in the pocket to throw, make changes on the line.
Carson gets paid big money to throw the football and he should be given the opportunity to do that even if that means taking a hit or two.
4. Rebuild, Rebuild, Rebuild
I can name numerous players on this team that simply haven't been productive and need to go. One of the biggest problems with the Cincinnati Bengals is the loyalty they have for "nice" guys and hard workers even if they put up the numbers to justify signed them. The biggest example of this is DT John Thornton.
Thornton hasn't done anything, in my opinion, to justify paying him close to 4 million dollars this year. Play the players that produce and cut the players that aren't. There are plenty of players out there that are looking for their opportunity to compete and win. The better a player plays, the more he gets paid. It's as simple as that.
Players that I believe should either be cut or released after this season: Levi Jones, Dexter Jackson, John Thornton, Jeremi Johnson, Eric Ghiacuic and Antonio Chatman.
The Bengals drafted 2 DTs back in April, give them the opportunity to play and show what they can do. The Bengals drafted 3 WRs in the draft, give them the opportunity to play and show what they can do!
Who knows, one of them may be good enough a player to justify trading Chad Johnson to help other areas of this team that need attention. THAT is the concept of "building through the draft!"
The Bengals have a history of drafting him a player, signing him to a rookie contract and releasing him when his rookie contract is up. If this continues to happen the team is constantly rebuilding and never establishes their identity.
It is obvious that things need to change for the Bengals to be competitive in this league. Regardless of what happens, change absolutely must start from the top.
If the Bengals are going to be competitive, then Mike Brown's top priority has to be winning and except nothing less. He has to be willing to put his pride on the shelf for a while and do the things necessary to win. HE has to set the example, and frankly, he has yet to do that.
At this point, a good place to start would be hiring someone to figure out who the Bengals should draft with the number 1 pick in April. We'll see!