“Who Dey” Nation Wants Answers
There’s been much speculation throughout the blogosphere regarding who exactly is to blame for the colossal failure that has been the first seven games of the 2010 Bengals campaign. Joe Reedy at Cincinnati.com, Hobson at Bengals.com, our friends at Cincy Jungle, and the various discussion boards have taken up this topic and chewed over it at length over the last several days.
Some say the fault lies with Marvin Lewis. After all, he’s the head coach—he calls the shots. He admitted to calling the third-down pass play that led directly to Tampa Bay’s comeback win. If the Bengals win that game, (which was in the bag) who knows where they’d be now? The roster is supposedly stacked with talent, so it must be Marvin’s fault. Anyone seen any “In Marvin We Trust” T-shirts lately? Me neither.
Others point to Bob Bratkowski and his sometimes overly-predictable and other times ridiculously bone-headed play calling. He was the favorite whipping boy in Bengaldom last year, and frankly he’s done nothing to change perceptions in 2010. I freely admit I was so sick of “Brat” that I openly lobbied for Mike Martz to be hired in Cincinnati. Some say the offense is too complicated, leading to penalties and missed assignments. Others say it’s the same thing that’s been run since 2005 and everyone in the stadium knows what the next play is. Either way, despite a supposedly Pro Bowl caliber QB and two superstar WR’s, not to mention two top draft picks and a former first round running back, this offense struggles mightily.
Then there’s the defense. Less than six months since Mike Zimmer was canonized in Cincinnati as a conquering hero, his charges have failed to repeat 2009’s successes despite having the same starters and better depth. They have shown inconsistency in run defense, and the pass rush has been non-existent—even when blitzing. What’s worse, they couldn’t get a stop when they knew the opposing offense was going to run to try to close out the game twice (Cleveland and Miami). Those failures allowed the opponent to run out the last two minutes and deny the offense one last gasp.
How about Carson Palmer? While flashing some brilliance at times this year, large chunks of the season have looked a lot like 2009 when he was absolutely putrid at critical moments. He looks to have lost zip on his passes, and could have about 7 or 8 more interceptions this year if not for the stone hands of opposing DB’s. Whether you count yourself as pro- or anti-Palmer, no one can argue that he’s just not the same guy he was in 2005 and 2006.
And when all else fails, blame Mike Brown. After all, he’s the man at the top and ultimately responsible for two decades of consistent failure. Restart the “Mike Brown, Step Down” campaign! Look for mikebrownsucks.com to get restarted.
As for me, the official position of Bengals Gab is the blame lies in something more vague and ambiguous. It has nothing to do with 40-yard dash times, playbook schemes, or simple blocking and tackling. If it were something like that, it would easily be fixed.
No, the problem with the 2010 Cincinnati Bengals is something much more difficult to get a handle on.
Looking at the roster, this team should be able to compete with anyone in the league. The offense is stacked. The defense too. A team that won the division last year and swept every home-and-home got only more talented in the offseason. The coaching staff enjoyed another year of relative stability, and the Bengals spent freely—almost recklessly—in free agency to improve the roster. They did well with their nine draft picks, and had the advantage of an extra preseason game.
So what went wrong here?
I humbly submit that the problem with this team is simply a lack of heart.
I stated back in the spring that this team would have no excuses, and I still don’t see any. They have simply failed to deliver. They’ve believed the hype surrounding them in the offseason, and become overly infatuated with the publicity and hoopla surrounding them.
They lost their focus and they lost their resolve. They forgot what the whole point of this exercise is—to win a championship. This is a lack of heart.
Heart, as defined by me, is a desire to succeed at all costs. To put team success above personal notoriety, and to be focused on the end result in all endeavors. This team does not do any of that.
They too often focus on why they “Can’t” instead of why they “Can.” In the immortal words of Yoda, I say to the Bengals, “That is why you fail.”
Cincinnati’s opponent Monday, Pittsburgh, didn’t spend the kind of money Mike Brown did in the spring. They arguably didn’t draft as well. They were coming off a season in which they missed the playoffs, and they had the distraction of Ben Roethlisberger’s rape allegations and subsequent suspension.
They had problems in areas the Bengals did not. They had obstacles to overcome that were non-existant in Cincinnati.
But they are 5-2, and the Bengals are 2-5 for one reason: They have heart.
If the Bengals were somehow able to transplant the heart and desire found in Pittsburgh or Baltimore—or Cleveland for that matter—and put it into the talent on this roster, the Bengals could go 9-0 down the stretch and make the playoffs.
How do you coach that? How do you instill such a thing in your players? I don’t know. And neither does Marvin Lewis.
Maybe Mike Tomlin and Eric Mangini know a thing or two this staff doesn’t. Maybe its more a, “you have it or you don’t” kind of thing. I don’t know.
All I do know is that as long as the Bengals continue to search for “answers” in the tape, and talk to each other about better execution and being more “on the same page”, the more they will struggle. Once they rightfully call B.S. on all of that hogwash and simply “Do Your Job” as Lewis once espoused, they can salvage something meaningful from this dreadful abortion of a season.
Who is to blame? EVERYBODY.
Just my two cents. I could be wrong.