I suggest today that this should be the focus for the 2010 Bengals. It addresses the ultimate goal, which is of course is winning. Stress, well, we see that every week on our flat screen TVs and delayed streams on our computers, and for a few hardy souls, from their seats at PB stadium. You can see the stress on the player’s faces, the coaches, and everyone else associated with this team on a day to day basis. Look at their faces right before the game starts, you see it in their eyes. If we, as fans feel it, imagine what it must feel like to them. This stress is what prevents flawless execution of plays for the most part. So how do we overcome it?
We have all seen perfection out of these guys this year. The incredible way Chad can go limp with the speeding ball glued to his fingertips as he taps his toes just inside the end zone. The perfect pass from the god of the golden arms that zips through the air just millimeters away from defenders outstretched hands to hit T.O. perfectly in stride running free down the sideline as he races to the score. The punishing way that Whit puts his defensive opponent to the ground, over and over. And of course, Peko, playing fullback as he knocks hair boy backwards into a Kentucky zip code.
We can understand the goal of winning and the stress of not living up to expectations, but what about the poise? Webster says it means ‘to hold or carry in equilibrium, to balance and put into readiness". Now that’s deep. My fourth grade teacher, whose name I can’t remember, (although to this day I can remember how mean she was!!!) said that poise was defined as inner strength. Ahhhh, now this, my friends, is where we are lacking.
So how do we get it? I can tell you this much, you aren’t going to get it with a first round draft pick or an ex pro-bowl player who may or may not have already peaked. No, what we need is to channel some Paul Brown into the locker room. But how are we going to do that. Genetically, Mike Brown should be able to supply some DNA, however we have been down this road for quite some time and I am sorry to say that this particular gene may have skipped a generation, or two. So we must take this on ourselves as Bengal fans, how can they do this?
Marvin Lewis contract expiration actually presents the team with an opportunity. In all fairness, I like what Marvin has done, bringing us halfway back to respectability, and making it a reality that good players actually wanted to come to Cincy and play for a change. I do however question his inner strength, his poise, if you will. It rears its ugly head with poor time management at critical moments in a game, and with not being more proactive dealing with players that overstep their pay grade. They are his employees, and he not only needs their respect (which I believe he has), he needs their fear. Paul Brown had it with his players. Another thing he could learn from PB is to be innovative. And for god’s sake, he needs a fullback…...sorry……that just slipped out.
The last half of this lost season is the perfect proving ground for Lewis, his coaches, and all the players. Prove to us that coaches can become innovative, passionate, and fearsome. Show us time management that is prepared and well thought-out….in the blink of a referee whistle. And the players can truly look in their mirrors and face their inner demons, prove to themselves that there is no fear of failure to execute a play as long as you execute to the best of your ability with every step and drop of sweat on the field. Let Marvin show us that he can truly be the General of this army by placing the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of every person under him. If they cannot find their inner strength, then their usefulness is diminished, and another solder that is more hungry and more determined, needs to be given the chance to succeed.
Part of anybody’s success is driven by the fear of being replaced. For instance, at my work there is this red headed college kid down the hall always trying to outdo me, the ‘old’ guy, so he can take over my position. Fat chance, because I have no fear (and I play golf with the boss, so I have it covered just in case).
The Bengals opponent this week is not the Buffalo Bills, their opponent is themselves. They need to resurrect their inner strength, ignore the talking heads in the media, and come to grips with how much actual effort and intensity they want to give when the clock starts ticking Sunday. Because, in the end, the battle is only with themselves, and fear of failure will only result in failure itself. Inner strength can get that extra yard, make that pivotal block, and prove that success is not only possible with this group of professionals, it is in fact a given.
Did I mention that I missed Paul Brown?