Reports are surfacing that the Bengals head coach ripped into his players after the game Monday Night. The quote:
A dysfunctional Bengals locker room could be near its breaking point. Standing outside the locker room following the Patriots' dominating victory at Paul Brown Stadium, reporters could hear coach Marvin Lewis ripping into his team. Lewis used the word "selfishness" in his public comments when asked what the Bengals would see if they looked into a mirror.
Earlier, quarterback Carson Palmer clashed with receiver Chad Johnson on the sideline following an apparent miscommunication that led to an interception right before halftime. Palmer's reaction, coupled with the blatantly errant nature of what should have been a relatively simple pass play, suggested there might have been a miscommunication on the route. After the game, Palmer stood up and took responsibility for the miscue, saying he forced the ball into the wrong spot. This seemed like an incomplete, if not dubious explanation, and suspicions grew as Palmer refused to elaborate.
Palmer's comments were consistent with a quarterback who regretted losing his cool and decided to take the fall for the good of the team. Johnson was not available for comment after the game. He suffered a sprained ankle, but could not be found in the training room after the locker room cleared out.
In a game labeled as the home game of the year, drawing a home attendance record of 66,113, the Bengals did basically what we expected -- stumble on offense, play little defense and, in the end, self-destructed nearly like Wild Card game #1 in 2005.
It's not Lewis that's drawing the headline. It's the team's maturity. Again.
Geoff Hobson's opening paragraph to his recap reads: The Bengals chemistry and maturity is again being questioned more than their talent in the wake of Monday night's treadmill loss.
Marvin Lewis is saying all the right things. But talking the walk is hardly convincing of the walk's first step being taken. Lewis pointed out that the team may need to make personnel changes. What's the deal with this team? Selfishness. There is a glimmer of hope with Marvin -- not sure if he's just saying the right thing or if he believes it when asked if the bye week came at a good time: "It comes at a great time for us. We have 12 important games after the bye." If that fluff? Or belief?
The Palmer and Chad Johnson fighting story isn't really a story. Not after Palmer explained everything resting blame solely on his shoulders.
"I made a mistake. I threw a ball into where I shouldn't have thrown to. I got on Chad, but I made a mistake. We're both passionate players, and in the heat of things, sometimes you lose your cool, and I lost my cool. Like I said, I made a mistake and threw a ball I shouldn't have thrown. I should've taken a check-down there. But I got on Chad and I shouldn't have."
But we've heard and seen Chad over-react. So I don't put much prospect in Palmer taking blame other than deflecting the issue and resting it before it gets rolling. He's just doing what leaders do. Keep it in-house as much as possible.
If there was one player that brought some positive light to the whole situation, it was Justin Smith.
"It's frustrating. But, we can't let the frustration get to us. That will kill your football team We lost three games in a row, but we have a lot of football left. We have to come back prepared and get that win. That is all there is to it. We have to go back to fundamentals. We can't have mental errors. The old slogan we had, 'do your job' ... I think we really need to get back to that. Don't over compensate and do too much. Don't try to create anything out there. We should all go back to that. If we play sound, basic, fundamental football, I think we will be all right."
T.J. not much of a team leader. T.J., during his initial comments in the lockerroom, said problems need to be fixed. Asked what the problems are, he said that he doesn't know. He's not the coach. Coaches coach, players play. The leadership attribute doesn't attach to T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Chad Johnson completely avoids the media all-together.
Leadership right now is what this team lacks. And it starts at the top.