Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mad At Carson? Maybe...

It's almost impossible to get mad at Carson Palmer.  He's a respectful guy and never gets agitated when dealing with the media.  But as a Cincinnati kind of guy, the more I think about his trade demand, the more I could find myself getting mad at number 9.  While the initial reaction is to blame the Bengals entirely and ask "who wouldn't want out of that organization?", now that the dust is settling I'm a little miffed it's come to this.  The internal argument goes something like this:
The Bengals have paid Carson a lot of money for a lot of years, instead of being part of a continuing problem, Carson should try to be part of the solution.  On the other hand, maybe he has tried hard to be part of the solution, talked with Mike Brown in the past about things that need to change, and it hasn't happened.  Obviously the guy is out of patience.

Carson is a quarterback and with that position comes the responsibility of leadership, and leaders don't walk out on their team.  On the other hand, it's hard to lead when management and coaches allow other issues and personalities to overshadow the team concept.

Carson's game has slipped in recent years so who the heck is he to start demanding a trade when his play clearly cost the Bengals, the final game of the season against the Ravens was a prime example.  On the other hand, Carson has been battered and taken a lot of lumps for this team so maybe the only way to recapture the glory is a fresh start somewhere else.

This is the worst possible time for Carson to pull this stunt because there is no "qb in waiting" on the Bengals roster.  On the other hand, that is not Carson's problem and maybe this is his way to get his younger brother a starting gig in the NFL.  I'm at least half-kidding about this paragraph.

But these are the things that have crept in my mind since the initial "Mike Brown has done it again and this franchise is such a mess it will never get it right" reaction.  I know Carson probably believes it isn't his place, but I would love to see him release a list of things he thinks the team should change to become competitive with the rest of the NFL.  From the number of trainers and equipment guys to practice facilities to the way players can communicate issues to the front office.  Players in the league talk among each other all the time, so the players on the Bengals are aware how things work in Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and New England.  Tedy Bruschi said on ESPN that when he was a player there was no way he would ever consider coming to Cincinnati because the organization is not committed to winning.  He mentioned the lack of an indoor practice facility.  It was disheartening to hear yet a confirmation of what we already knew.  I remember back in the dark ages of the 90's a player told me the same thing.  The Bengals tried to close the gap when they moved into the new stadium, but they didn't go far enough. 

So with all of that as a backdrop, it's almost impossible to get mad at Palmer for his trade demand.  But the Bengals?  Now that's easy.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bengals Waiting For What? Hopefully Fairley!

It's been 10 days since the news conference from hell, and the Bengals coaching staff remains intact.  If they really felt they needed to make changes on the coaching staff, wouldn't bodies have already been flying out the door?  I swear I think they might just stand pat.  That will cause a ticket backlash the likes of which we have never seen.  Since the announcement that Marvin would come back, I haven't talked with one Bengals fan who is pleased.  Not that bringing Marvin back was the problem, but not making other changes on the staff and not changing the way the organization works is a HUGE problem among the base.  Not one season ticket holder said they would be thrilled to renew their seats.  No doubt, some will find it to difficult to give up their seats.  But a lot are going to say adios if something doesn't change.  So be prepared for a lot of local television blackouts next season too.

I hope Nick Fairley is around when the Bengals draft fourth.  I would take that guy in a heartbeat.  The real negative with him is not that he occasionally gets in an extra shot or two, the downside is he only produced at a high level for one season at Auburn.  But he was only there for two seasons.  I think this guy has found what it takes to be successful.  He was almost impossible to block one-on-one in the BCS Championship game.  It's not like a quarterback having just one successful year.  Quarterback is a more complex position and entails a lot of different attributes to be good.  Therefore I would be more than just a little leery of Cam Newton.  But Fairley?  No doubt, I grab him..

Now comes the test for U.C.  Three straight road games in the Big East, the first two against ranked teams.  If they play in any of those games the way they played in the first half of the South Florida game, it will be trouble.  They reverted back to ways of last season, and I didn't like what I was seeing.  At least they are so deep now, Mick has the pleasure of going down the bench and finding someone to spark the offense.  But, Ibrihima Thomas has to make good on his promise not to foul out at Syracuse.  He has given the Bearcats little or nothing the last three games.  And Gates cannot have any more 3 rebound games like he had against South Florida.  

So far, so good for Xavier in the Atlantic 10.  Yeah, the Musketeers took some lumps in the non-conference portion of the schedule, but those lumps have made this team more than ready for the A-10.  They will compete for the regular season title and barring injury, be one of the favorites to win the A-10 tournament.  X fans should be feeling a lot better now about their hopes of making the NCAA again.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Change You Can Believe In?

For those (me) hoping for big time changes with the structure of the Bengals, ain't gonna happen.  Perhaps they will make some change among the offensive assistant coaches, but that's about it.  Mike Brown made it clear his scouting department is just fine, and Marvin is not, and has never been a puppet.  I know Marvin can't say a lot about what is, and what isn't in the contract.  But it sounds like about all he got in this deal was an extension of what already existed.  I agree with Brown that they have made some nice pickups, and they have some good personnel people, but they need more.  He pointed to odell thurman, chris henry, and david pollack as guys who should have worked out but didn't.  Well, there is a reason thurman didn't work out, and it is the same reason other teams took a pass on him.  So we shall see, but I don't think we'll see much difference from the past 20 years.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Marvin and Mike Continue To Dance

I really thought something would happen by 1 p.m. Monday with the Bengals coaching situation.  But it hasn't.  Just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize you're not half as smart as you thought you were.  So there could be a lot of things in play here.
1. Mike Brown is really thinking about changes Marvin wants to implement
2. Marvin has been told here's what I have to offer, think it over
3. They both presented ideas and agreed to let the ideas simmer a while

You have to believe Mike does want Marvin back, or this would have been over quickly.  I thought with some of the things Marvin said over the past few days, he was in the mood to tell Mike what he wanted and if he didn't get what he wanted, game over.  But it is good that they are able to avoid a knee-jerk reaction and realize they have some time to see if this will work.  I still am not convinced Marvin will be back.  None of the players could shed any light on it.  I think if Marvin was close to coming back, they would have some sort of indication.  Same with Mike Zimmer.  The Bengals defensive coordinator recoiled from questions about Marvin's future.  Of course he could find himself in Marvin's office if Lewis decides to go elsewhere. 
So I have no feeling one way or the other.  The longer this goes gives me no clear indication if Marvin will be back, but at least it tells us that Brown is not kicking him to the curb.

Marvin And Mike's Game Won't Last Long

I have a feeling this won't last long.  I could be very wrong, but here's where I see Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown heading:
Marvin knows what he wants, and Mike knows what he's willing to give.  If what Mike is willing to give is enough, then the game would have been over a long time ago.  I think Marvin goes in to Mike's office Monday morning, and a short time later they will part ways.  Apparently someone from the Lewis camp has already leaked information to the national media that Marvin would like changes in the organization in order to stay.  That way Marvin can leave with his head high, even if Mike has already decided to move in another direction.  Marvin can say he needs to move on because the organization isn't at a level that will allow him to win consistently.  Even if Mike had not made up his mind one way or the other, I doubt he appreciates being put in this position.  So if Mike was looking for one more reason to take Marvin out back and pull the trigger, Lewis just loaded the gun for him.  I know there's a large faction of Bengals fans who think it is time for Marvin to move one.  I think Marvin might even feel that way.  But the best case for long-term Bengals success will come if Marvin stays.  That means Mike Brown has decided to make some much-needed changes.  But I think the odds are about the same now as they were 19 years ago.  That's when a guy named Sam Wyche walked into Mike's office and asked for some changes in the organization.  Sam and Mike parted ways on Christmas eve.  It will be even easier for Mike to part with his head coach on January 3.