STOP EXPECTING THE POSTSEASON THIS YEAR. Now that the Cincinnati Bengals have successfully bombed expectations for a promising season, it's probably best that you don't wait in line for postseason tickets. We're just as eager to piggy-bank our optimistic bucks in the bank of Any Given Sunday as anyone, but along the way one must turn down Reality Way.
And the reality is that the Cincinnati Bengals are 3-5 with the New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens on the schedule. Departing trends, tendency and this season's history, we could argue for wins against the Chiefs, Raiders and Chargers, with the whole Any Given Sunday attitude against the Eagles and Cowboys.
At the height of our optimistic prognostication, we could see another .500 season. At the core of our pessimistic mind, we're thinking more 6-10.
WELCOME BACK TO THE ODDITY. Most of you know I'm stickler for history, often using it as a source for arguments that sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. Therefore we shouldn't have risen our expectations in the first place. Save for 2007, the Bengals have gone to the playoffs each odd-numbered year since 2005. Cincinnati hasn't had a winning season during an even-numbered year since 1990.
This is especially true following odd-numbered postseasons during the Marvin Lewis era. After winning the division in 2005, the Bengals collapsed after starting 8-5 in 2006, only to lose the remaining three; any of which would have given the Bengals a postseason berth. Following the 2009 division championship (and AFC North sweep), Cincinnati's high-strung prima-donna era with Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens earned the team four wins in 2010.
And now following the wild card season in 2011, the Bengals have followed that up with a 3-5 first-half start in 2012. So put your money on Cincinnati making the playoffs next year.
EQUAL BLAME FOR THE COORDINATORS. The most natural reaction within a season nuclear clouding expectations is an aggressive attitude from fans -- and even the media to a certain degree -- is that the top coach should be the first to go. Cincinnati fans have been dying for the Reds to replace Dusty Baker since the moment he was hired, and Marvin Lewis hasn't been welcomed in Cincinnati since 2008; there's a tolerance of silence during wins and a renewed anger during losses.
Yet where's the beef with the coordinators? Jay Gruden's first season as the offensive coordinator ranked No. 20. But we were cool with that. It was his first season and he was using a collection of rookie, first-year players all during an NFL lockout that offseason. Now, not only are the Bengals a mediocre No. 17 in the league on offense, there's obvious regression arguments being made about Andy Dalton and the recurring "where the hell is the rushing offense" each weekend.
What about Mike Zimmer? Since 2008 Zimmer's defense has ranked inside the top-10 twice in five seasons (including this year), all the while currently establishing his worst ranking in total defense and scoring defense since being hired five years ago.
They're popular and we get that. We like 'em too. But a head coach can only do so much, delegating most of the job to his assistance coaches, who are the one's that develop, train and gameplan for the next game. And yes, we get that it all starts at the top with Lewis -- despite Lewis being not-so-much at the top of this organization.
YET, NO ONE IS GOING ANYWHERE. Zimmer, Gruden and head coach Marvin Lewis all signed extensions within the past year, making it very unlikely that the trifecta coaching staff is dispersed, unless the coordinators receive job offers for promotional head coaching jobs.
We get from the weekly FanPost creations, or the hijacking of our posts that do not even reference the head coach, that firing Marvin Lewis is not unlike the popular backup quarterback replacing the struggling starter (and how has that always worked out?).
However unless Lewis resigns on his accord, there is not going to be any changes at head coach until 2014 at least. And if you need to ask why, call up the file titled "Mike Brown 101".
GIVE JERMAINE GRESHAM HIS DUE. Despite having some rough patches this year, third-year tight end Jermaine Gresham is having a decent year. Let's rephrase that to the ever important and prophetically reactive two-word phrase: career-year.
He's posted at least two receptions of 50 yards or more and half of his games this year, Gresham has at least 60 yards receiving. Against the Denver Broncos on Sunday, the former first round pick generated 108 yards receiving on six receptions -- the former being a career-best.
For as much criticism and antagonism that's been associated to Gresham this year -- and every year since joining the Bengals in 2010 -- at some point Gresham deserves credit for at least putting together his best performance of his career and being one bright spot during a tough Denver loss.
IT COULD BE ALWAYS BE WORSE. How do you like that for confidence-building optimism. Are you buying into it? Me neither. It's about as bad as it could be based on our obviously inflated and rosie preseason expectations. Hey, there's always next year.