CINCINNATI OH - AUGUST 15: Carson Palmer #9 and Terrell Owens #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals look on against the Denver Broncos during a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 15 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. The Bengals won 33-24. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
In his most recent edition of "The Morning Line," Paul Daugherty lambastes Bengals owner Mike Brown and his stubborn insistence that the dispute between the Bengals and QB Carson Palmer is just a misunderstanding and that Palmer will "come around." While Palmer has chosen a course of passive resistance, Brown continues to go medieval on his ass, mustering his troops around Carsonville in the hopes of starving its citizens into surrender, saying "I’ve seen any number of players who at one point did not want to re-enlist come back and be quite happy about it."
Daugherty's vociferous summation of this tactic (and we know he really means it 'cause it's in bold font) is that "Brown is delusional. His delusions are killing your football team." And here's where we can all chime in with our "in other news..." bit.
Although it's easy and fun to lampoon Mike Brown (I did it earlier today), the most immediate threat to the Bengals right now may not be Brown's misplaced stoicism, but the lockout's effect on the Bengals' rebuilding effort.
Despite Brown's cockeyed perception, it's clear that Palmer's days as a Bengal are over. I think most fans are reconciled to that. And regardless of Brown's assertions or Daugherty's hyperbolic fears that "Brown is willing to gamble a season or two on the notion that Palmer will fold before he does," the team appears to be pressing on without Palmer and coach Marvin Lewis is optimistic about that. Maybe there's reason to be. But if there is a truncated offseason due to labor negotiations, the future of the Bengals might be intrinsically compromised well beyond Brown's more overt machinations.
In a recent interview Packers head coach Mike McCarthy suggested that the lockout might actually benefit his Super Bowl-winning Packers, allowing a team that stands to change little about their philosophy some extra rest after a long postseason run. The NFL prides itself on being a league with tremendous parity, much of which comes through offseason retooling, but with the current lockout handicapping the rebuilding efforts of weaker teams -- by suspending free agency, barring players from organizational facilities, and threatening OTAs, etc. -- how much change should we anticipate in the hierarchy of the final standings from last season to next? And how much improvement can we reasonably expect from a Bengals team poised to rejigger or replace a lot of moving parts? Rebuilding is a painful process, but the Bengals might have to learn what it feels like to rebuild on the fly, which could have a trickle down effect for years to come as the team works to make up today's lost ground.