Well, here we are again. I feel like this ledge on the cusp of a Bengals implosion is familiar territory for me now. It’s strangely comforting, knowing that despite all the upheaval our country is facing right now, that the Bengals are still good for a weekly dose of mediocre football and comedy.
The same cast of characters is responsible for this new season of Bengals football on Comedy Central. The star of the show is, of course, head coach Marvin Lewis and his complete inability to manage a game clock and the emotions of his players. Since 2003, Lewis has parlayed a series of first round playoff ousters into a spectacularly unspectacular career. Always coaching JUST well enough to keep his job, Lewis has become a fixture in the lore of Cincinnati sports, holding the fanbase hostage with his complete lack of…. well, any redeeming qualities.
His co-star in the shitshow, hotheaded linebacker Vontaze Burflict, is up to his usual antics of running off the rails faster than a train conducted by Stevie Wonder. A plethora of penalties, a file cabinet of fouls, a foundation of fines, Burflict is consistent and then some- he has all the talent in the world, yet less maturity than your uncle talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner.
The whole point of this is that NOTHING has changed for Ye Ole Bungals. They are consistently inconsistent, always putting together just enough of an appetizer to make the fans salivate, only to drop the entrée on the floor as they’re about to serve it to the table. It is frustrating and then some at this point, knowing EXACTLY what’s going to happen each week. At least the tie game earlier this season was a fresh take on mediocrity.
It is clear that the team is stale and the franchise is in dire need of a new direction. The problem is that the people calling those shots don’t see it that way. They see a money making machine, a team who does JUST well enough to fill the stadium without having to go out and sign marquee free agents to bolster the roster. It is a vicious cycle of fans buying in to their own sadness, a stellar example of the American dream.
Lewis has proven time and time again that he is inept. It’s not up for discussion any more. The statistic of zero playoff wins is frightening, but it falls short of painting the real picture: this team has trotted out fantasy football lineups and STILL consistently shit the bed. The Bengals have consistently fielded some of the most talented teams in the NFL, yet done nothing with them. AJ Green is a generational talent and a surefire hall of famer. The two headed beast of Jeremy Hill and Geo Bernard at running back is a trend setting powerhouse of boom and zoom. Tyler Eifert has the talent to be The Best Tight End Not Named Gronkowski. And the defense. Holy hell, that defense. A truly elite group of athletes with absolutely no ability to get their shit together. For all of the talk of inconsistency, even quarterback Andy Dalton has turned it around and cemented his place among the top 12 NFL QBs. He’s no longer in danger of losing games on his own accord… so why is this team not winning?
It all boils down to stagnancy. Why would Mike Brown care about wins or losses? They do just enough to fill the stadium, thus just enough to fill his pockets. It’s really a situation with no chance of winning. Bengals fans are held hostage by their team. After signing into effect the worst public funded stadium deal in the history of sports, Hamilton County taxpayers have no choice but to support the Bengals- because like it or not, a good cut of their paycheck goes to keeping that bleak, boring, outdated concrete slab’s lights on. So, there’s really nothing anyone can do. The ownership of this team feels no sense of urgency to move on from this ineffective regime, and the fans will keep buying into it, largely because they don’t have a choice in the matter. At this point, the sluggish maintenance of the franchise is once again reflecting on the field, with a horribly ineffective team harkening back to the cess pool that was my childhood growing up a Bengals fan.
If I’m Mike Brown, I blow it up. I make the move that should have been made each of the last two offseasons and fire Marvin Lewis. There are plenty of highly qualified, intelligent, and progressive coaches on the market to take his place- even though the three best candidates for the job left their jobs as Bengals coordinators to take over their own teams as head coaches. If I was Mike Brown, I’d finally open up my purse strings and hire a competent and analytically savvy general manager. I’d remove problem players like Burflict from the team. I’d prioritize bringing in impact free agents to anchor the pathetic offensive line. I’d invest in a better scouting system, to ensure that high draft picks are spent wisely.
I would do a lot of things if I was Mike Brown. But I’m not Mike Brown. I’m a guy with a word processing software on his Apple computer, and I sure as hell could run this team a lot better than Mike Brown has. Bengals fans, jump. Please. There will never be success. They just genuinely don’t care. So why should you?