Monday, December 27, 2010

What Was That?

It is only one game, but it makes me think the Bengals rebuilding job on offense isn't as troublesome as I thought it was.  Jerome Simpson, where have they been hiding you?  Andre Caldwell, stay nice and steady.  Jordan Shipley, keep growing, and Jermaine Gresham, gonna be a beast.  Those are some thoughts after yesterday's game.  The other, and perhaps more important thought, I've never seen Carson Palmer look that comfortable in years.  In command, throwing the ball with confidence, and not looking like a hayseed dropped in the middle of Time's Square whistling at all the big buildings around him.  I'm not sure Carson is a little skittish with T.O. and Chad, or just wants to keep them happy so he doesn't have to hear the complaining, but something was different Sunday.  Against the Chargers Carson definitely took what the defense gave him, play after play after play.  Catching the Chargers confused on the bomb to Simpson was the kind of stuff we saw in 2005 when Carson was considered and up and coming elite quarterback.  So it's in there, he still has it.  And the Bengals stuck to the run.  It's probably too late to convince Cedric Benson to stick around, but if he saw what I saw on Sunday, he might give it another thought.

Of course a lot things depend on who will be the head coach next season.  I think change is needed, and that's not a knock on Marvin.  He gave it a good shot.  But if Mike Brown is desperate enough to give the next guy just enough power to name his own staff, then it's another step in the right direction.  I don't expect that to happen, but since it's the holiday season, I'll remain hopeful.   

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Who Will Take The Bengals Job? And U.C., 10-0?

For about 11 months I've felt this would be the final campaign for Marvin Lewis.  The closer to the end of the season, the more apparent it seems.  Some close to the team feel it's a given that in two weeks, January 3, 2011, to be exact, the Bengals will have an announcement.  Marvin and the Bengals will be parting ways.  Since the Bengals didn't make the reported "wish list" of Bill Cowher, who is out there that will take over the team?  My early odds:
Mike Zimmer - even  (it's Mike Brown's cheapest route, but that move won't sell tickets)

Hugh Jackson-5-1 (he was here before so he knows the pitfalls, so he might pass)
Brian Billick - 10-1  (I think he's itching to get back in, but if he has anything else, forget it)
College Coach 20-1 (those good enough like Jim Harbaugh would wait for better situation)
John Gruden 5,000,000-1 (probably takes $5 million a year to land him, ain't happening)

There are still plenty of few dominoes to fall before the whole coaching carousel settles down in college and the NFL.  So there is a chance some viable candidates pop free.  But I'm of the opinion it will be a guy who is desperate to get a head coaching gig in the NFL.
Don't get me wrong, Mike Brown treats his people very well.  But the current structure of the organization does not allow long-term, sustained success.  That has become so apparent after 20 years that capable coaches will prefer to go to places where they feel they can succeed and not constantly fight the uphill battle.  It seems to have worn Coach Lewis out.  When is the last time you heard him say anything about getting a practice bubble?  That was once a battle-cry for Marvin, but he finally realized the Bengals will not build one.  Neither will the taxpayers.  That's just one example of the headaches facing the next guy who takes the Bengals job.  Don't get me started on the structure of the scouting department and how the coaches have to play "catch-up" right after the season.  Good Luck to the next man in.

It's great to see the U.C. basketball team winning.  I don't care about the schedule, 10-0 is a great start.  Sure, there were cupcakes, but this team needed to get it's mojo going.  It paid off against Okalhoma.  The Bearcats could have folded down the stretch against the Sooners, but they calmly took care of the basketball and made free throws.  That's just a couple of good things that come with confidence.  Will it translate into some Big East wins?  I think so.  I think the defense will be there every night.  If you haven't seen this team in person (and who has based on attendance figures?) you are missing a team that gives supreme effort.  It is a fun team to watch and it's the style that made the Bearcats a well known commodity.  Pressing, trapping, getting in the passing lanes, and relentlessly going after the rebounds. They will take some lumps coming up, but who doesn't.  Still, Mick deserves some credit for getting this team to play well, play hard, and do it under some stringent guidelines set forth by the university.  I hear Mick say the other night that the men's basketball team is tops in the athletic department when it comes to the Academic Progress Report.  At least some people from Oklahoma have taken notice.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Argument Against 18 Game NFL Season

The Bengals would still have 5 games left to play. Can you imagine? A 2-11 record and you still have to muddle through five more games. Three is more than enough. In fact, I wish there were a way the Bengals could "opt out", or teams eliminated from playoff contention could just be shaved from the end of the schedule. I've long held the opinion that four preseason games are painful and the preseason schedule should be scaled back to a scrimmage and a couple of games. I still feel that way. The starters play less than half the time in the preseason games anyway, and season ticket holders still get gouged for a full price on tickets. But with the NFL dealing with a new agreement, I hope the 18 game regular season schedule is shelved until the Bengals get things right. Or the year 2055, whichever comes first.

Speaking of awful, the "Legends" division and the "Leaders" division? I laughed out loud when I saw this. The Big Ten is smart enough to make major money off of its own television network, then it botches something as simple as this. It is way too generic. Heck, the "Stars" division and the "Stripes" division would be a lot better than this. Nice logo too.

I was really rooting for Cliff Lee to stay away from the Yankees.  Then I heard about the Phillies being involved.  Dear Lord, if the Phillies land this guy the National League could be locked down for a while.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Back To '93 For Bengals And It Only Gets Worse

Ten losses in a row. Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens, Cedric Benson, Ochocinco, Leon Hall, Johnathan Joseph, Roy Williams, Keith Rivers, Dhani Jones, Keith Rivers, and the rest. Are you telling me those players can't find one win in the past two and a half months? It's beyond hard to believe. What's even more scary is the road ahead. How do you fix this mess? I have to think Benson and T.O. are outta here. Johnathan Joseph too. And what to do about Palmer? He looks as lost as lost gets and it's not getting better. Honestly, it's time to start over. New head coach with his coordinators and his approach. If Carson fits that approach then fine, and if not, find a way to move him and get on with life. Knowing the Bengals, they will remain a slave to his salary cap number and be afraid to bite the bullet. Knowing the Bengals, Chad will be back because he might put butts in the seats. Knowing the Bengals, they will never build this team beginning with the lines and go from there. Nope, not this bunch. Mike Brown will need a shiny new toy to help him sell seats. Something along the lines of a Cam Newton or an Andrew Luck. The rebuilding is going to get uglier before it gets better. How this team is as bad as the Dave Shula team of 1993 is inexcusable, unbelieveable, but so typically Bengals.

Should they decide to build this team the right way and pay attention to the lines, they have a bit of a head start on defense. Atkins, Dunlap, and Michael Johnson appear to be keepers. Too bad they don't have the same type of core on the offensive line, then this rebuilding project wouldn't be so daunting. The apparent whiff on Andre Smith looms large at this stage.

By the way, what other team on the planet would still be waiting for Jerome Simpson to develop? Does that not say it all about the way this franchise is run?

I am happy the Heisman voters did the right thing and awarded Cam Newton in a landslide. He was by far the best player during the collegiate season. Some dolts actually suggested not voting for Newton because of allegations. Hey, if you have proof the guys was on the take or something, then we'll talk. Until then, Newton is eligible to play and played better than anyone in the country.

since the NCAA is all about rules, can I make a suggestion. No more allowing Division 1A football teams to schedule 1AA teams after September 30. If late season losses are going to hurt teams so much, why should some of these schools be able to play what amounts to a freebie in November? On November 20, Alabama played Georgia State while Florida played Appalachian State. Are you kidding me? It's just another reason why the BCS system is a joke. Imagine if baseball has the BCS system this year. The Reds would have won the Central Division and played a meaningless three game series against the Twins or someone. How do we continue to let this system breathe?