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Mike Brown, Bengals owner and GM, sporting a sweater vest during lockout talks.
Ah, Mike Brown. One could make thousands of arguments to why this man is the worst owner in sports history. Well, perhaps not owner, but certainly general manager.
Through years and years of disappointment, embarrassment, ruining careers and ignoring fans, Mike Brown has cemented himself as one of the most hated people to ever travel to this side of the Ohio River. None of these things have ever seemed to bother him, though. After all, he's still rich.
For years, Cincinnati has been the poster child for how a NFL team is not supposed to operate. Unhappy players, losing seasons, poor draft picks, apathetic fans and a laughable scouting department have always been the best ways to describe the Bengals...
I'm sorry, this is about the good in Mike Brown. Let's try again.
The past few years have seemed slightly different. 2010 and '11's draft especially, have found the Bengals some great talent, namely, in Jermaine Gresham, AJ Green and Andy Dalton.
But wait, there's more! Under Brown, we've never been a team to make many, if any, offseason transactions. We all know about T.O., but this year's additions have flown somewhat under the radar.
So, in 2009, we finally built a solid defense, which became the fourth-best in the NFL. Last year, however, we were plagued with injuries and sure enough, we faltered. The biggest questions this year were the pass rush, the depth and who would fill the void left by Jonathon Joseph. Bringing Nate Clements in was probably the best option other than Nnamdi Asomugha, and he's played well so far.
My favorite additions, however, are the two new linebackers in Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard. Howard is finally playing the way the Oakland Raiders always thought their second-rounder would, and Manny Lawson has done a great job filling the SAM position after Maualuga moved to his natural position at middle linebacker. The questions about Dhani Jones retiring and Keith Rivers being hurt were answered well.
Mike Brown also went very un-Bengal-like by locking up big names such as Leon Hall and Andrew Whitworth for the next few years. Brown typically lets players' contracts run out, releases them to free agency, then gives them an ultimatum deal near training camp.
I think re-signing these players finally sets a foundation for the coaches to build on. We finally have a great core of players that can build a contending team together.
I am in no way trying to argue that Mike Brown is suddenly good for the team. A few years of improvement doesn't make up for decades of apathy. Just saying, he's made some nice moves here lately, even if it was only handing over some power to Marvin Lewis.