Hard Knocks No. 5: Final Cuts

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2009

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 3:  DeDe Dorsey #27 of the Cincinnati Bengals rushes as he is followed by Fili Moala #95 of the Indianapolis Colts during the preseason game on August 3, 2009 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The series finale of Hard Knocks focused on the Bengals organization trying to cut the team down to 53.
 
The opening scene is coach Marvin Lewis talking to all the first and second year players. He tells them how important the final preseason game is, telling them there are jobs still available.
 
After Chad OchoCinco drops a pass, safety Roy William tells him to stop dropping balls. Chad defensively replies by telling him he has only dropped two balls. Williams shows some veteran leadership in his response:
 
“Don’t be so sensitive. You want to be the best. I’ll push you”. Chad respectfully agrees. Williams is new to the Bengals and is willing to stand up to Chad, unlike most of his teammates. This is a good thing.
 
Off the field Chad is once again the star. He looks quite sad while he tells the cameras he no longer does twitter or ustream. Then he unleashes this gem:
 
“Losing twitter and ustream is tough emotional for me, as tough as losing my Johnson”.
 
I give Chad the comedian an A plus for this show. He has had some great one-liners: kiss the baby, child please, it may seem stalkerish but it works, OchcoCinco condoms; catches whatever your Johnson shoots, and now this latest one.
 
Tank Johnson thinks Chad is his own media market. In the segment about OchoCinco being “the NFL’s Twitter king,” Johnson said:
 
 “You’ve got New York, you’ve got Chicago, you’ve got Los Angeles, and you’ve got OchoCinco, the fourth largest media market in the country right here”.
 
The show went into the origin of the “Who-Dey” chant, which started with the first-class Bengal teams of the 1980s. Said rookie linebacker Rey Maualuga, who played for USC and is from California:
 
“It’s a little corny. But, you know, it’s part of the program”.
 
Not too many surprises as far as final cuts were concerned.
 
Safety Tom Nelson beat out Corey Lynch, whom was signed to the practice squad. None of the running backs were cut. DeDe Dorsey didn’t look too thrilled to get the call from Marvin Lewis. I wonder if he had another team ready to snatch him if he got cut.
 
Both fullbacks Chris Pressley and Fui Vakapuna were cut. Pressley was signed to the practice squad, but Vakapuna was released. The look on his face is the sad reality of the life of a player being denied an NFL opportunity.
 
DT turned OT Jason Shirley made the practice squad. But Gus Parrish got the axe.
 
In the final interview with (captain obvious) President Mike Brown said:
 
 “We’ve hit a low spot, and we have to earn our way back. There’s only one-way to do that, and that’s win games on the field…. We’re going to try our best to have the kind of team that’s a winning team, and I hope it’s a playoff team.”
 
Notice how he never says the words “super bowl” or “championship” at all. This show makes it painfully obvious that Brown could care less about winning a championship. He is in it for the dough and everything else is secondary.
 
At the end of the show the team poses for a team picture.
 
Narrator says: "These are the 2009 Cincinnati Bengals. Destination defined, destiny unknown."
 
Carson Palmer says he has never felt better about his team. He expects to have the best year of his career.
 
Marvin tells the team, "Our goal is to win all of our home games, win the AFC North and eventually be World Champions". Now that’s more like it.
 
Who dey think gonna beat them Bengals in the ratings? Nobody! Based on the first three weeks (of five), the Bengals Hard Knocks show is setting a HBO record for the series.
 
This year’s Hard Knocks has averaged three million viewers a week through the third week, slightly ahead of the 2007 Hard Knocks with Kansas City. Ratings for all five weeks will be available by the end of next week, says Ray Stallone, HBO Sports spokesman.
 
Looks like the '09 Bengals are already on a winning streak of sorts. Great season of Hard Knocks, HBO rewrote the story on a team that desperately needed one.